A Breath of Scandal

A Breath of Scandal (also known as Olympia in Italy) is a 1960 film adapted from Ferenc Molnár's stage play Olympia. It stars Sophia Loren, Maurice Chevalier, John Gavin and Angela Lansbury and was directed by Michael Curtiz. The film is set at the turn of the 20th century and features lush technicolor photography of Vienna and the countryside of Austria. The costumes and lighting were designed by George Hoyningen-Huene and executed by Ella Bei of the Knize fashion house (Austria). In part because Loren was at odds with Curtiz's direction, Italian director Vittorio De Sica was hired to reshoot certain scenes with Loren after hours without Curtiz's knowledge.

A Breath of Scandal
Directed byMichael Curtiz
Produced byMarcello Girosi
Carlo Ponti
Written byWalter Bernstein (adaptation)
Sidney Howard (translation)
Ferenc Molnár (play)
Ring Lardner Jr. (uncredited)
StarringSophia Loren
Maurice Chevalier
John Gavin
Angela Lansbury
Music byAlessandro Cicognini
Robert Stolz
CinematographyMario Montuori
Edited byHoward A. Smith
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
16 December 1960
Running time
97 min.
United States

The film is based on the 1928 play Olympia rather than being a remake of the 1929 MGM film His Glorious Night.[1]


An Austrian princess (Loren) falls in love with a Pittsburgh mining engineer (Gavin) over the Prince of Prussia, whom her father (Chevalier) favors.



The film was part of a three-picture deal, which Loren had, had with Paramount. It was also a co-production between Paramount and producers Ponti and Girosi. Filming started on 1 June 1959 in Vienna.[2]

John Gavin, who had been borrowed from Universal, later recalled, "we were being directed by Michael Curtiz, which sounds so good on paper." Apparently, he soon realized the director was past it.

I said to Sophia [during the shoot], "We're in a terrible picture. He may have been a great director once but he doesn't know what he's doing."

According to Gavin, Sophia had looked worried and asked, "do you really think so?"

Said Gavin, "The next thing I know Vittorio de Sica is turning up on set, at 2:00am every morning to give Sophia a few hours coaching before shooting started. Imagine! Drama classes at that hour! Still, I wouldn't have minded a little help myself. So I asked him and he said 'Don't change a thing. Everything you do is so American.' That sort of left me up in the air without a compass."[3]


Gavin later called the film a "turkey" saying Sophia Loren playing a princess was "not what she does best."[3]

See also


  1. Olympia as produced on Broadway October 16, 1928 to November 1928, 39 performances, Empire Theatre; IBDb.com
  2. ROLE IN 'OLYMPIA' FOR SOPHIA LOREN: She Will Star With Gavin in Movie of Molnar Play -Maureen O'Hara Signs Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 07 Apr 1959: 39.
  3. John Gavin: One for the 'Seesaw': John Gavin: One for the 'Seesaw' By Tom Donnelly. The Washington Post (1974-Current file) [Washington, D.C] 28 July 1974: L1.
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