Philippe's last role before his death from cancer, playing a small-time government administrator - the setting is a South American dictator-state - whose time comes when the governor is assassinated and he temporarily takes over until a successor is appointed. The film is a study in the futility of liberal sentimentality when it refuses to acknowledge the fascist mechanism for what it is: Philippe's few attempts to improve the lot of political prisoners prove useless in face of a stronger rival and his own desire for security and power. It's hardly major Buñuel - he himself blamed its shortcomings on the inevitable compromises of a co-production - but his view of greed, hypocrisy and cruelty is as lucidly sardonic as ever, and the portrait of the dangers of trying to improve a totalitarian regime from the inside remains as relevant today as when the film was made.
Cast and crew
Louis Sapin, Luis Buñuel, Luis Alcoriza, CharlesDorat
Gérard Philipe Jean Servais Miguel Angel Ferriz Domingo Soler Maria Félix Raúl Dantés