You will go wherever I tell you.
Kurt Neumann directs Carnival Story, starring Anne Baxter, Steve Cochran, Lyle Bettger, George Nader and Jay C. Flippen. Music is by Willy Schmidt-Gentner and cinematography by Ernest Haller.
Set in Munich, Germany, plot centres on the workings of Grayson’s travelling carnival. The perils of love, infatuation and high diving acts come crashing together.
Filmed in Agfacolor/Technicolor and unfurling its narrative in a carnival atmosphere, Carnival Story is pleasing enough on the eyes and ears. That is once you get used to Baxter’s German accent that is! Willi (Baxter) is the fulcrum for everything that happens, caught picking the pocket of carnival worker Joe Hammond (Cochran), she ends up getting employed by the owner Charley Grayson (Flippen). From there she starts to literally rise up the ladder of success whilst indulging in a torrid love triangle with Joe and Frank Collini (Bettger).
The temperature never gets above lukewarm settings, the narrative getting bogged down by a repetitiveness that grates entering the last third of film. There’s much swooning and sexual discord, but it never steams the screen up, this in spite of Cochran’s animal magnetism and Baxter’s natural sexuality. While Flippen is under used and Bettger unsuited to the role of a swim trunk wearing high diver. It’s all a bit flat in story telling terms, even the ending fails to close pic down with thrilling wonder. A missed opportunity here, but fans of Cochran doing bad boy are well served, as are those of us who have lusty lustations for Annie Baxter. 5/10