Filmed in Italy and set in South America, Renoir’s delicious, color-saturated romantic comedy begins with the arrival of an 18th-century group of theatrical players in a small Peruvian town, whereupon the local viceroy falls head over heels for Camilla (a magnificent Anna Magnani), the troupe’s beautiful leading lady. The only problem: Camilla is already flush with the affections of two other men—matador Ramon and troupe manager Felipe. When the viceroy gifts Camilla with the solid gold coach he has just ordered from Europe, political and personal chaos ensues.
“To claim, as reviewers of the time did, that Renoir had failed to produce a convincing narrative, is to scorn Matisse and Picasso for not painting plausible pictures. Jean Renoir, the son of Auguste Renoir, became a modernist of the cinema in the manner of Cézanne’s assertion that he was painting pictures, not apples. Renoir films ideas out of pictures. He seduces the mind through the eyes.”