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In a small pleasant European village, there is one unhappy person: Ella. She is despised by everyone, and mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters. Out feeling miserable one day, Ella meets a handsome young man, who falls for her. He is really Prince Charles, the son of the Duke, but he tells her he is the son of the cook, and invites her to a great ball at the Duke's castle. A strange woman who lives in the mountains by herself befriends Ella, and dresses her up so she can attend the ball. She goes, and is a great success, but must run out at midnight. In her haste, she drops a single glass slipper. The Prince uses the slipper to find her.Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Why wasn't this film more successful, and why isn't it more well known than it was and is? It is an utterly delightful and original take on the Cinderella story in which almost every element is just right. Leslie Caron is completely enchanting as Ella. True, she may not be an amazingly gorgeous beauty in her ball gown, but she is radiant nevertheless. Especially those eyes. Oh, those expressive eyes! They show you the true beauty beneath her outward plainness. She is a wonderful actress and phenomenal ballet dancer, as demonstrated in the wonderful dream ballet sequences in which she dances with the Roland Petit ballet company. These sequences may seem unnecceasry at first, but they turn out to do exactly what the ballet dances in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals do: They express the character's emotions in ways that not even dialogue and music can. They are indeed a vital part of the film. Estelle Winwood is charming as Ella's eccentric "fairy godmother." Walter Pidgeon's uncredited narration is pithy and wise. True, Michael Wilding is indeed a bit bland as Prince Charming/Charles (though not really all that bad) and this is one of Kennan Wynn's weakest appearences (except for his reaction when he sees Ella at the ball), but all in all these are tiny flaws in one underrated gem of a film.
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