For the world's worst chess player, movies about chess are catnip for my soul. This one's my favorite. Ingrid Thulin is so beautiful and so haunted as Dr. Michele Wolf, a concentration camp survivor who endures the nightmare of Dachau, only to return to Stanislas Pilgrin, the sociopathic chess champion played by Maximilian Schell. He's in the middle of a hot and heavy affair with her brilliant stepdaughter Fabi, played with nasty conviction by stunning Samantha Eggar. Neither experiences a twinge of guilt as they connive, with systematic care, to do away with Thulin's character. Wracked with profound guilt about her step-daughter and worn away with passion for what she believes is the last love of her life, Thulin struggles with the gnawing realization that both are faithless.
Dismissed at the time of its release, "Return From The Ashes" (based on a Hubert Monteilhet novel) is the only film I've seen which deposits a Holocaust survivor in such a grim end game. The direction by J. Lee-Thompson is gripping and it's well worth a reappraisal by thoughtful viewers. Yes, that is Herbert Lom in a change of pace role as Dr. Charles Bovard, Thulin's colleague. The exquisite Talitha Pol, then 25, appears as Claudine. Within a year, she would marry Jean Paul Getty II and spend the last five years of her life as one of the richest flower children on the planet. Three years before her early death from a drug overdose in 1971, she became the mother of her only child, Tara Gabriel Galaxy Gramophone.
© 2004 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 1/15/04
Return From The Ashes
UK - 1965