Return from the Ashes
|Return from the Ashes|
|Directed by||J. Lee Thompson|
|Written by||Julius J. Epstein (screenplay)
Hubert Monteilhet (novel)
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Release date(s)||November 19, 1965|
|Running time||105 min.|
Return from the Ashes is a 1965 British drama film directed by J. Lee Thompson. The film stars Ingrid Thulin, Herbert Lom, Maximilian Schell, and Samantha Eggar. It is based on a novel by French crime writer Hubert Monteilhet, adapted for film by prolific screenwriter Julius J. Epstein.
Shortly before the Nazi invasion of France, Dr. Michelle Wulf (Thulin) encounters the younger Stanislaus Pilgrin (Schell) over a game of lightning chess, not being aware that Pilgrin is a chess master. She becomes intrigued with the fortune-hunting Pilgrin and the two begin a liaison. Upon the Nazi invasion, in order to protect Michelle, who is Jewish, "Stan" marries her, to no avail it turns out when the Gestapo arrests her and sends her to a concentration camp.
An unspecified amount of time after the war, Michelle returns under the identity of Mme. Robert and encounters her colleague, plastic surgeon Dr. Charles Bovard (Lom), who at first does not recognize her because of her disfigured state. She undergoes plastic surgery to restore some of her looks, and then by chance encounters Stan, who has assumed and still believes that Michelle is dead. Surprised at the resemblance, Stan tells her that Michelle's step-daughter Fabi (Eggar) cannot inherit her step-mother's estate because no body was ever produced. He asks "Mme. Robert" to impersonate Michelle and she agrees. Upon moving back into her own house, she quickly becomes aware that Fabi, now a beautiful woman, resents her for her former neglect, and what is worse, is now Stan's lover. Eventually, Michelle reveals herself and insists on resuming her relationship with her husband.
While taking a bath after consuming alcohol and barbiturates, the jealous Fabi tells Stan her plan for killing her step-mother. Stan will go to another city on the pretext of attending a chess championship. He will set up a gun to go off when Michelle opens her safe. After establishing his alibi, he will call her and tell her that he has put a gift for her in the safe. When he hears the shot, he will know she is dead, and he can return home to adjust the scene to make the death appear a suicide.
Though it is not clear if Fabi is serious, the amoral Stan drowns her in the bathtub in such a way that it looks like an accident related to an overdose, and then carries out her plan. When he returns, he discovers what appears to be Michelle's body, but is caught by the police in the act of manipulating the scene. Charles, who has loved Michelle all along, had entered the room just as she was opening the safe and caused her to step aside to avoid the bullet.
The movie would get a mixed response over the years, ranging from "good" to "implausible."
- Ingrid Thulin as Dr. Michele "Mischa" Wolf
- Samantha Eggar as Fabienne Wolf
- Maximilian Schell as Stanislaus Pilgrin
- Herbert Lom as Dr. Charles Bovard