Walk With Love and Death, A (1969)

Walk With Love and Death, A (1969)

“I’m not a rotten beast; I’m a man.”

During a peasant uprising in 14th century France, a student (Assi Dayan) wandering across the countryside meets and falls in love with the daughter (Anjelica Huston) of a slain nobleman.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Class Relations
  • Cross-Class Romance
  • Historical Drama
  • John Huston Films
  • Medieval Times
  • Road Trip

John Huston directed this adaptation of Hans Konigsberger’s 1961 novel, set at a time of peasant revolt during the Hundred Years’ War in France. His daughter Anjelica — just 17 at the time — made her movie debut in the lead female role, playing alongside Assi Dayan, son of Israeli military leader Moshe Dayan.

Neither is a very strong actor (Anjelica, of course, got much better over time), and the film was not a box office success — though Huston “claimed it was highly praised in France, where there was a greater understanding of the historical context.” Regardless, it’s a beautifully shot film which may appeal to those interested in learning about this specific bloody moment in European history, or seeing Anjelica in her first role.

Note: John Huston himself plays the uncle of Anjelica’s character in a brief but pivotal scene of the film.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Fine period sets and costumes

  • Edward Scaife’s cinematography
  • Georges Delerue’s score

Must See?
No, though Huston fans will likely want to check it out.


One thought on “Walk With Love and Death, A (1969)

  1. First viewing (10/17/21). Not must-see but it’s recommended for fans of director Huston. As posted in ‘Film Junkie’ (fb):

    “Heron of Fois – I will be your lady. Here is your token. You are now journeying in my honor.”

    ‘A Walk with Love and Death’ (1969): As many know, John Huston is my favorite director – but I’ve still had to catch up with a few of his films that I haven’t seen. This was one of them – and I more or less simply avoided it until now. I didn’t refuse to see it – but it had such a poor reputation that I didn’t feel any sense of urgency about watching it.

    It’s much better than its poor reputation. Maybe not a great film but it held my interest firmly throughout – and I gave over to its gentle nature without questioning its integrity. At its core, there’s both a sweetness and a melancholy that make for a compelling watch.

    Set in the middle Ages, the story takes place in the midst of the Hundred Years War between England and France. We meet a Parisian student (Assaf Dayan, son of Israeli chief-of-staff and defense minister Moshe Dayan) who has abandoned his studies in order to make his way to the sea. He makes the acquaintance of a young noblewoman (Anjelica Huston) and soon asks her to become his patroness for his travels. She agrees and he is off – only to soon return to her when he hears her life is in danger.

    20th Century Fox may have opted to produce this film as a competitive response to Paramount’s immensely popular ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (1968) – the two films largely resemble each other in overall tone. Many may not know that Anjelica was actually being considered by Franco Zeffirelli for the role of Juliet – but her father John had other ideas, removing her from the running so that he could showcase her himself.

    For someone who didn’t speak English, Dayan comes off surprisingly well. And, though she didn’t feel secure in herself at the time, Anjelica nevertheless reveals sparks of the intensity she would eventually bring to two more of her father’s films: ‘Prizzi’s Honor’ and ‘The Dead’.

    ‘A Walk…’ is a good example of a film that didn’t deserve its fate with the critics and audiences (though it was received rather well in France). At the very least, fans of the director (who also appears in a small role) are not likely to be disappointed. (Screenplay by Dale Wasserman, who wrote the stage scripts for ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ and ‘Man of La Mancha’.)

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