The Statue


1h 24m 1971

Brief Synopsis

Bolt, a British linguist, develops a universal language, so he's a sudden sensation and receives a Nobel prize. An ambitious diplomat, capitalizing on Bolt's celebrity, arranges for the U.S. to commission a statue for a London square to honor Bolt's achievement. Bolt's Italian wife, a renowned artist, sculpts an 18-foot nude of Bolt. In a pique, because he's neglected her for years to do his work, she gives the statue a spectacular penis, telling Bolt that he wasn't its model. Thinking he's a cuckold, Bolt goes on a jealous search for a man with a matching phallus. The diplomat, too, wants changes in the statue to protect his conservative image. Can art and love reconcile?

Film Details

MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Comedy
Release Date
Feb 1971
Premiere Information
New York opening: 27 Jan 1971; Los Angeles opening: 29 Jan 1971
Production Company
Josef Shaftel Films, Inc.
Distribution Company
Cinerama Releasing Corp.
Country
Italy and United States
Location
Florence,Italy; London, England, Great Britain; Italy
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Chip Chip Chip by Alec Coppel (production date undetermined).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 24m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)

Synopsis

In England, Professor Alex Bolt is awarded the Nobel Prize for developing a universal language called Unispeak. Ray Whiteley, a United States ambassador who aspires to be president, has convinced the U.S. to fund a worldwide Unispeak project, believing that the non-controversial subject matter can only enhance his reputation. As head of the project, he commissions Alex's Italian wife Rhonda, an internationally acclaimed artist, to sculpt a statue commemorating Alex's achievement that will be erected in London's Grosvener Square. When asked by newsmen what Unispeak means to her, Rhonda jokes that since her husband became involved with the language, they rarely see each other. After a prolonged business trip, Alex returns home, where Rhonda proudly shows him the statue in her studio, which is an eighteen-foot nude in his likeness. Realizing that he is embarrassed by the thought of his nude image being displayed in a public park, she is angered by his prudishness and reminds him that the human figure has always been the subject of art. When she refuses to alter her work, Alex confers with his lawyers, Sir Geoffrey and Humphrey, about finding a legal way to prevent the statue's display, but they say he must prove that it is defamatory and suggest he should not have posed for it. Later, Alex complains to his friend Harry, an advertising man trained as a psychiatrist, that he never posed for it. Harry suggests that Alex discuss the problem with Ray, with whom he is appearing that evening on a television show featuring Unispeak. During the broadcast, Alex denounces the cost of the statue, which annoys Ray, who has not seen the work, and further angers Rhonda. After the show, Alex's colleague and assistant, Pat Demarest, points out that the statue's head resembles him, but the genitalia does not. Alex returns home demanding to know the identity of "Charlie," the nickname he gives the statue's offending anatomy. Equally angry, Rhonda says she has expressed in her art her dissatisfaction at seeing him only eighteen days in the last three years. Presuming that Rhonda had an affair with the model, Alex becomes jealous. After Geoffrey recalls how an actress proved defamation and won a lawsuit by naming the model whose breasts were advertised as her own, Alex vows to find the man. He takes secret photos of the statue's penis and then goes to a photo booth to take pictures of his own, both of which he shows to Harry, who confirms they are "two different fellows." Alex then bribes his housekeeper for a list of men who visited his house while Rhonda worked on the statue. He questions a household employee, the Paraguayan Joachim, who mistakes Alex's questions for a homosexual overture, tries to beat him up and then complains to his consulate. Next, noting that several of the men on the list frequent a Turkish bathhouse, Alex visits them in the sauna one at a time, until the attendant becomes suspicious that he is behaving inappropriately and throws him out. Humiliated, Alex talks to Harry, who suggests that he reconcile with Rhonda. Taking his advice, Alex showers Rhonda with gifts, flowers and wine, and she forgives him. Although Rhonda offers to tell him the name of the model she used for the statue, Alex generously claims it no longer matters. However, the specter of the sculpture haunts Alex in bed and, finding himself impotent, he blames Charlie, prompting Rhonda to banish him from their home. Ray, an adulterous womanizer, learns about Alex's bathhouse scandal from one of his paramours, and later about Joachim's complaint, and fears that the bad publicity will affect his own career. After flattering Rhonda into letting him see the statue before it is unveiled, Ray is shocked by its nudity and doubts the integrity of Alex, who he assumes posed for and approves of the statue. He later complains to his advisors that it is "a mile high and naked as a peeled banana." Although the president orders him to prevent the statue from being displayed, Ray's advisors report that he is legally bound by his contract with Rhonda. Worried about Alex's involvement in other scandals, the chief of the C.I.A., an elderly woman, suggests putting a "tail" on him. She sends her man, Hunter, to investigate Alex, who, with Pat's help, continues to check out the men on the list. One of the men, singer Hank Wills, is performing in a rock musical, Skin , during which the cast disrobes for the last song and performs in the nude. Alex attends a performance and sneaks onto the stage, where he blends in with the actors by removing his clothes and photographs the bare Hank. Hunter also strips, and takes photos of Alex. Still troubled by the statue's nudity, Ray sneaks into Rhonda's studio and attaches a fig leaf to it. Although angry about the vandalism, Rhonda lets Ray take her to a Japanese restaurant, where he simultaneously tries to seduce her and explain his position. He says he is trying to avoid criticism from the "do-gooders," who will scream at him for financing nudity and decadence, and the "pinko intellectuals," who will complain about censorship and repression. Alex and Pat take a private plane to a yacht where friends, three of whom are on the list, are vacationing with their wives. Over lunch, Alex carefully manipulates the conversation toward convincing them to play a "sociological game" in which they take bets and guess the order their respective spouses put on items of clothing. Surreptitiously, Hunter captures on film how the women recreate their morning dressing routine for Pat and the men do the same for Alex, who is then able secretly to compare their privates with the statue's. Later, when Ray sees Hunter's photos, he concludes that Alex is a wife-swapping, exhibitionist, homosexual voyeur. He confronts Alex and offers to protect him from scandal, if he will sign a statement saying that he was "out of his mind" to pose for the statue. When Alex explains that he never posed and that he needs to find the model to obtain a legal injunction, Ray arranges for the president to provide the entire resources of the U.S. government to check the other names on Alex's list. Under various pretexts, they arrest and search several of the men. Of the two remaining men on the list, one is Jacques Tremont, a sex-crazed artist who is on retreat in a reclusive, mountain-top Greek monastery. The only way to enter is to ride a cart that is attached to a pulley and hand-cranked up the steep mountain. When a first attempt to talk to Tremont fails, Alex and Ray's assistant, Chuck, hire prostitutes, who are flown by helicopter to the monastery, where they entice Tremont to join them and then fly him to their bordello. Later, the prostitutes tell Alex that Tremont's anatomy does not match their picture. Alex declares that he is disgusted by their search and tells Harry he wants to quit. However, as there are only two days before the unveiling and only one name left to check, Harry urges him to accomplish his original goal, so that he does not later suffer from "unresolved hostility" and "residual aggression." Soon after, men hired by Ray break into Rhonda's studio to saw off Charlie from the rest of the statue and steal it. Believing that Alex is responsible, Rhonda calls the police to investigate and refuses to believe his protests that he is innocent. Following Harry's advice, Alex proceeds to Florence, Italy, where the last man on the list, Rhonda's elderly teacher Guido Martinello, resides. At first unaware that the Italian police are pursuing him, Alex manages to visit with Guido, to whom he shows the photograph of the statue. However, before Guido can tell him the name of the model, police break into Guido's house and Alex flees. While evading the police, Alex passes the statue of David by Michelangelo and recognizes it as the object of his quest. Later, Ray reports to the president that Rhonda has agreed to create a new sculpture. To his embarrassment, when the new statue is unveiled, it proves to be a nude resembling Ray.

Cast

David Niven

Alex Bolt

Virna Lisi

Rhonda Bolt

Robert Vaughn

Ray Whiteley

Ann Bell

Pat Demarest

John Cleese

Harry

Tim Brooke-taylor

Hillcrest

Hugh Burden

Sir Geoffrey

Eric Chitty

Mouser

Derek Francis

Sanders

Susan Travers

Mrs. Southwick

Desmond Walter-ellis

Mr. Southwick

David Allister

Mr. Westbury

Maureen Lane

Mrs. Westbury

David Mills

Mr. Euston

Zoe Sallis

Mrs. Euston

Mircha Carven

Joachim

Christopher Cruize

Interviewer

Aldo De Carellis

[Guido] Martinello

Ann Ferguson

Miss Page

Pino Ferrara

Guide [in Florence]

John Frederick

Military advisor

Tony Gardner

Hunter

Marco Gobbi

Hank Wills

Hazel Hoskins

Chief of C.I.A.

Marne Maitland

[U.N.O.] Secretary General

Bettine Milne

Dunhill

Gianni Musi

Jacques Tremont

Troy Patterson

Larry [Patten]

Bill Vanders

Lawyer

Granville Van Dusen

Chuck

Veronica Gardner

Prostitute

Katarina Lidfeldt

Melinda

Marco Tulli

Deaf Taylor

Roberto Lande

Young Italian male

Tolis Karachalios

Greek guide

Sergio Silverio

Marine

Antonino D'acquisto

Marine

Lorenzo Fineschi

Mike

F. L. Greaves

Herbert Parker

Edward Danko

Harold Brodie

Dough Parish

Philip Muir

Julian Jenkins

Detective

Mike Atkinson

Detective

Ron Hepher

Detective

Jack Repp

Air Force officer

Robert Pomeroy

Navy officer

John Stacy

Commentator

Pistillo Antonio

Piet Bruder

Graham Chapman

News reader

John Wregg

Policeman

Kiko Concalves

Consul of Corteguay

Maria Comberti

Little old woman

Fortunato Arena

Customs officer

Mario Guizzardi

George French

Amato Garbini

Italian inspector

Pamela Le Pelley

Schoolmistress

Nicolette Le Pelley

Caroline

Julie Fair

Ray's secretary

Bruno Erba

Maurice Debois

Mike Harvey

U.S. embassy official

Luigi Scavran

Senior Meteroa Monk

Film Details

MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Comedy
Release Date
Feb 1971
Premiere Information
New York opening: 27 Jan 1971; Los Angeles opening: 29 Jan 1971
Production Company
Josef Shaftel Films, Inc.
Distribution Company
Cinerama Releasing Corp.
Country
Italy and United States
Location
Florence,Italy; London, England, Great Britain; Italy
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Chip Chip Chip by Alec Coppel (production date undetermined).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 24m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The sequence of the unveiling of the statue is shown without dialogue during the ending credits, as the song "Charlie," which is heard intermittently throughout the film, is played. According to information found submitted by the studio to AMPAS, the play on which the film is based, Chip, Chip, Chip by Alec Coppel, had not been produced for the stage before the picture was made; it has not been determined whether the play was ever produced onstage.
       As noted in the onscreen credits, The Statue was filmed on location in Italy. An April 1970 Daily Variety specified Florence as one location site. Variety and Hollywood Reporter reviews reported that shooting took place in London and Italy, and Filmfacts stated that studio work was done in Rome's Cinecittà Studios. Information in the film's copyright file listed the running time as 86 minutes, while the Variety and Hollywood Reporter reviews listed that duration as 84 minutes and the Los Angeles Times review, 92 minutes.
       Filmfacts and the LAHExam review misspelled actor John Cleese's name as Clees. A modern source adds Eva St. Laurent to the cast. Although the United States president is mentioned several times throughout the film and a portrait of Richard M. Nixon hangs in "Ray Whiteley's" office, his character does not appear in the film. The fictional rock musical Skin, in which the character "Hank Wills" appears, is a parody of Hair, which opened Off-Broadway in 1967 and had an initial Broadway run from 1968-1972.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1970

Released in United States 1970