The Comedians

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Drama, USA/France, 1967, 150 min.

Tagline They lie, they cheat, they destroy...they even try to love.

Synopsis Under the dictatorship of "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his secret police (the Tontons Macoute), Haiti has become a land of violence and terror, with only a handful of rebels daring to oppose the reign of tyranny. Because of this situation, a ship arriving at Port-au-Prince brings with it only four passengers. One of them, Brown, is a politically uncommitted cynic who has returned to the island to reopen his deserted hotel and to resume his love affair with Martha Pineda, the bored wife of a Latin American ambassador. The other three new arrivals are Mr. and Mrs. Smith, an American couple who have made the trip in the hope of establishing a vegetarian center, and the somewhat mysterious Jones, a British "major" who delights in boasting of his military experiences in Burma. Upon stepping ashore, Jones is immediately arrested and thrown into jail; and, a short time later, Brown finds the murdered body of a former government minister lying at the bottom of his empty swimming pool. The Smiths attend the dead minister's funeral and witness the brutal abuse of his widow at the hands of the Tontons. Indignant, they persuade Brown to assist in arranging for Jones's release. Although their efforts are successful, they are unaware that Jones has made a bargain with the Tontons to provide them with arms and ammunition from Miami. After the Smiths have accepted the futility of their mission and returned to the United States, Jones discovers that he is unable to put through his armaments deal, and he seeks sanctuary at the Pinedas' embassy home. As a warm relationship develops between Martha and Jones, the jealous Brown tricks Jones into volunteering to organize the rebels being banded together by Henri Philipot, the artist nephew of the murdered minister. At a meeting at the Pineda home, Dr. Magiot, a distinguished Haitian patriot, arranges for Jones to be smuggled into the hills and also makes an attempt to appeal to Brown for assistance. Although Dr. Magiot has his throat slashed by the Tontons, Jones, disguised as a native woman and accompanied by Brown, makes his way to the rebel rendezvous in a cemetery. During their all-night vigil, Jones confesses to Brown that his whole military background is a fraud but that he is resolved to go through with his mission in an attempt to do one worthwhile thing with his life. At dawn the two men are discovered by the Tontons, and Jones is shot and killed. But the rebels arrive in time to rescue Brown and gun down Jones's killers. Brown, no longer able to remain indifferent to the Haitian cause, allows Henri to persuade him to take Jones's place in the desperate chance it will bolster the rebels' morale in their almost hopeless fight for freedom. As the Pinedas also leave the island, Martha looks down from the plane that is taking her away from Haiti and speculates on the destiny of her lost lover fighting in the hills below.

Directed by Peter Glenville  

Starring Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Alec Guinness, Peter Ustinov, Paul Ford, more...

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