US, 1984, 105 minutes, Colour.
Jo Beth Williams, Tom Conti, Giancarlo Giannini, Coral Browne.
Directed by Rick Rosenthal.
American Dreamer is an entertaining piece of escapism, very much in the Romancing the Stone, Jewel of the Nile vein. The heroine is the lively Jo Beth Williams. She is matched by the reserved and humorously laconic Tom Conti. The villain is Giancarlo Giannini. Carol Browne has a guest role as Tom Conti's mother.
The film spoofs popular pulp fiction with the romantic heroine Rebecca Ryan. Most of the action is set in Paris and contrasts with the heroine's home in the American Midwest. There is the glamour of chic Paris as well as the sinister side of Paris underground. There are political implications of corruption and drug-running. However, it is not to be taken too heavily -although, the film ends with the feminist push of the heroine coming to some kind of independence and deciding to leave her husband.
1. An entertaining fantasy romance? Escapism?
2. American locations, the American Midwest compared with Paris and France? The contrast of the real world and the romantic world? The world of popular fiction? The normal and the exotic? The world of conspiracies and espionage? Colour photography, stunt work? The songs and music?
3. The humour on popular fiction? Competitions and prizes? The opening and Cathy's story being visualised? The exaggerations? Thriller impossible! The humour of the film as purporting to present reality but being a fiction fantasy?
4. The portrait of Cathy - as mother, wife, writer? Her imagination? The American Midwest woman? The contrast with Rebecca Ryan and her derring-do, the excitement of her stories Orient Express, espionage and murders etc.? Her winning the prize? Her relationship with Kevin, his clashing with her, adjusting her plans, her decision to go? The children? The excitement of the flight? Paris and the accident, hospital? Amnesia and thinking she was Rebecca Ryan? The paranoia of the plot, going out on a spending spree, her wardrobe, the hotel, her cavalier attitudes like a fiction heroine, money no object? The encounter with Margaret McMann?, Helen? The uncovering of the plot, the double agents, the various adventures? Discovering the truth? The second accident? Kevin's arrival? Her decision whether to return or not? The final confrontation with Victor? The encounter with Alan, falling in love with him, the escape? Her decision to stay with the children in Paris? With Alan? The dreams of the everyday housewife?
5. Margaret McMann? and her novels, Alan as her ghost-writer, her comfortable life in Paris - and Coral Browne's caustic genial style? Contributing to the humour?
6. Alan and his wealth, writing the novels, ghost-writer's mother? Extravagant? His ingenuity in playing along with Cathyon the spending spree at the hotel? With the suspicions about the agents, the drugs, Victor? The discovery of the real plot, the chateau and the elaborate escape? A genial hero?
7. The contrast with Kevin and his narrowness, the American husband, chauvinist, forbidding his wife to go to Paris, ridiculing her? The portrait of the children? Kevin's going to Paris? Cathy's decision to go home - and then her change and separation from him? Staying with the children? Alan as alternate father?
8. Victor Marchand and his charm and dapper style, politics, public appearances? Suspicions? The deals, the drugs, money? Guilty? The chases under Paris, the imprisonment in the chateau, his chasing hero and heroine and falling into the moat? The political criticism in his character?
9. The audience immersed in the lush and chic world of Paris, in the world of espionage and conspiracy? Fantasy - but with relevance to contemporary social questions?