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rom its marvellous opening - in the Legation compound at Peking, the troops of eight foreign powers raise their national flags to the accompaniment of a cacophony of national anthems - to the final relief of the diplomats to whom the Boxers have laid siege in the compound, Ray almost transcends the spectacular world of international co-production film deals. He carefully orchestrates the big action sequences (the sine qua non of the Epic) so that they form a mere background to the unfolding drama of the awkward love affair between Heston and Gardner. The result, Ray's farewell to Hollywood, is admittedly a broken-backed movie - producer Samuel Bronston re-cut it - but one full of delicious moments as Ray's camera cranes and swoops around his protagonists, almost taking us back to the nervous grandeur of Johnny Guitar on occasion. A magnificent failure.
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