The Visit

  • 1964
  • 1 HR 40 MIN
  • NR
  • Drama

A weird premise hinders the believability of this international film involving four countries. Bergman, who (as widow of the richest man in the world) is the richest woman in the world, returns to the small European town where she was born. The little town is on the skids, and the news that she is returning sends hopes soaring--the townspeople believe that...read more

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A weird premise hinders the believability of this international film involving four countries. Bergman, who (as widow of the richest man in the world) is the richest woman in the world, returns to the small European town where she was born. The little town is on the skids, and the news

that she is returning sends hopes soaring--the townspeople believe that she might help them out financially, lifting them out of the doldrums. Bergman, though, has something else in mind: vengeance on those who caused her suffering. Bergman comes to town in a classic Rolls-Royce with an entourage

and a pet leopard. The town honors the local girl who made good with a large dinner, at which she makes them what she thinks will be an irresistible offer. Quinn, a big man in town, who married well after his teenage love affair with Bergman, is the target of her wrath. She offers the town $2

million to murder Quinn! Years before, Quinn abandonded her, pregnant, to the scorn of the town, having his buddies spread the rumor that she was a whore. The ensuing furor compelled her to leave the small town, and her child died. Later, she became a prostitute in Trieste, where she met the old,

fabulously rich man who became her husband. The people of the town listen, astounded, to the story. Some even consider the offer, but ultimately they refuse. Soon trucks begins arriving with loads of goods for the people. At first, they are suspicious, but when Bergman begins to distribute the

merchandise and asks for nothing in return, the townspeople begin to rethink their position. Bergman's pet leopard gets away, and the locals get their guns and go after it. What if Quinn should happen to be hit by a bullet gone astray? some wonder. Quinn realizes that this is exactly what could

happen, so he goes into hiding until the big cat is nabbed. He approaches Bergman directly and begs her to call off her plan, but she reminds him that his marriage to someone with a larger dowry than hers forced her into a life of prostitution. The fact that she somehow managed to turn the

situation to her advantage is beside the point; she wants her pound of flesh in retribution. Quinn next attempts to flee but is thwarted. The local people plead with Bergman to give up her plan, and they spend some money in town themselves. Then they are informed that she already owns the entire

town and its surrounding area. In a young servant, Demick, carrying on with a local married policeman, Bergman recognizes the young girl that she herself was two decades ago. She gives Demick money and advises her to get away from the town as soon as she can. Quinn's wife, Cortese, sticks by

him--barely. Quinn goes to trial on a trumped-up charge, is found guilty, and is sentenced to death. Bergman tells the packed courtroom that she will allow him to be set free if anyone will speak up to say that he has been condemned by a kangaroo court. No one says a word. Then Bergman lifts the

death sentence anyway, condemning him instead to life among people who would have let him die for the sake of money. Bergman takes Demick by the hand, tells everyone that her visit is now over, and the two women depart.

The Durrenmatt play (and the translation by Valency that was a hit in New York) featured lead characters a great deal older than Quinn and Bergman. In May 1958 Alfred Lunt and wife Lynn Fontanne played the roles in New York. Using older stars to underline the hatred that has festered for a

lifetime might have been more effective. Bergman was cast against type, and Quinn served as little more than a human dart board for her anger. Made at Cinecitta Studios in Rome, with locations in Italy, THE VISIT featured some good acting in the smaller roles, including that of the mayor

(Schroder) and the police chief (Blech) among others. The same theme (that people will do anything for money) was treated in the comedy THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN. The film was nominated by the Academy for Best Costume Design.

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