Three interlocking stories set in the legendary New York City dance palace Roseland make up this charming film, the third to be shot by Merchant Ivory Productions in America. In the first segment, “The Waltz,” Teresa Wright is a widow who comes to Roseland in order to sustain the memory of her late husband, and meets Stan (Lou Jacobi), a man who offers her an opportunity for happiness in the present. In “The Hustle,” Christopher Walken stars as a gigolo with three women in his life, all of whom depend on him for different degrees of romance and companionship. In the final segment, “The Peabody,” an older Viennese woman (Lilia Skala) sets out to win a dance competition despite warnings that it could imperil her health. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s understated screenplay received many accolades, and delivers an uncharacteristic bit of sentiment not present in other Merchant Ivory efforts. —The Criterion Collection
Thanks to the content of his films, American director James Ivory has spent much of his long career being mistaken for an Englishman. Few filmmakers have been more closely associated with a particular type of genre than Ivory and his longtime collaborator, producer Ismail Merchant. The very mention of the hyphenate Merchant-Ivory effortlessly conjures up heavily stylized images of Edwardian England, replete with stiff upper lips, effete aristocrats, and young women confined by both corsets and repressed desire. However, although much of Ivory’s reputation has been built on his E.M. Forster-adapted period dramas, he has also earned considerable respect for the insightful examinations on the interplay of different cultures inherent in almost all of his work — particularly his earlier films about India — and his and Merchant’s ability to make quality films on a minimal budget.
Born in Berkeley, California, on June 7, 1928, Ivory grew up in Klamath Falls, Oregon, where his father… read more
Chris Walken at possibly his sexiest redeeming a slightly tired story alternately given too much or too little attention and nuance. He brings out something in his co-stars, a naturalistic charm. He floats when he's onscreen and the others stop their preciousness cold to float with him.