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Film / The Golden Coach

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The Golden Coach is a 1952 film by Jean Renoir.

The film, which unlike most of Renoir's films is in English, is set in 18th century Peru during the Spanish colonial period. Ferdinand, the viceroy of the colony, has just ordered an ornate golden coach from Europe. The nobles of the colony are rather put out at Ferdinand using state funds for such extravagance, but Ferdinand somewhat disingenuously claims that the coach is for the office of the viceroy to build imperial prestige.

Also on the same boat to Peru is an Italian theater troupe. The theater troupe builds a stage and starts giving performances. Starring in the troupe is Camilla (Anna Magnani), a fiery, hot tempered actress and near-literal Drama Queen. She is accompanied by Felipe, who seemingly only came with the troupe because he wants Camilla to marry him. That's complicated however when Ferdinand, who himself has a mistress, falls in love with Camilla and tries to win her. And that's further complicated when Ramon, a bullfighter and the local celebrity, also falls in love with Camilla. Meanwhile, the nobles of the colony, who aren't thrilled with their viceroy cavorting with a low-class actress, plot a palace coup.


  • Beastly Bloodsports: We don't actually see any, just gasps and then applause from the audience as Ramon kills his bull.
  • Commedia dell'Arte: This time-honored comic theater is what the Italians play. Camilla plays the stock role of Columbine. The film itself gradually becomes more like a Commedia dell'Arte production after Camilla takes the coach and then finds herself having to keep her three suitors from seeing each other when they all visit her on the same evening, with everything being resolved by the Bishop the next morning.
  • Dances and Balls: The rich folks of the colony are scandalized when Ferdinand invites Camilla to his fancy dress ball.
  • Flynning: Felipe and Ramon have a sword-clashing duel when the latter meets the former outside of Camilla's room.
  • Foreign-Language Tirade: Camilla goes on a tirade in Italian after Ramon enters her dressing room and is excessively forward.
    Antonio: Do you speak Italian?
    Ramon: No.
    Antonio: What fortune.
  • Framing Device: Fittingly for a film about a Commedia dell'Arte troupe, the whole story is presented as a theatrical performance. The main staircase in the viceroy's palace is framed by theatre curtains, which open at the beginning of the film and then close again at the end as Don Antonio tells Camilla that her three suitors were merely players in the comedy, and now that the comedy is over, they have disappeared, leaving her alone on stage.
  • Going Native: Felipe comes back from captivity with the natives, only to tell Camilla that their way of life is better, that he's going to join them forever, and he wants her to come.
  • Gold Makes Everything Shiny: The viceroy's fancy golden coach, which everyone wants.
  • Love Dodecahedron: There's Camilla, there's her three suitors, and then there's Ferdinand's mistress Irene who is not happy at being dumped.
  • The Mistress: Irene, daughter of a noble, who is OK with just being a mistress (everyone else is OK with it too), but gets mad when she's pushed aside for Camilla.
  • Serenade Your Lover: Played for laughs when Ferdinand sneaks into Camilla's house by tiptoeing past Ramon as he serenades Camilla from the courtyard.
  • Show Within a Show: All the Commedia dell'Arte performances. The whole film is a showcase for the art form.
  • Take a Third Option: Or rather a fourth option. Camilla realizes that the theater is her true love, so she rejects all three of her suitors.
  • Too Important to Walk: Being carried around on a litter probably lessened the sting after Ferdinand gave up his golden coach to Camilla.
  • Uriah Gambit: Dialogue reveals that in the backstory, the viceroy freed up Irene to be his mistress by sending her husband off to the front lines of the war with the natives, where he was killed. Irene doesn't seem too bothered by this.
  • Vehicle Title: The famous golden coach, the talk of the colony.