American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
“High Season” reminds me a little of the neglected John Huston comedy “Beat the Devil,” with its assortment of eccentric exiles up to mischief far from home. The film takes place on the Greek island of Rhodes, where once a colossus stood, but where now the most controversial sculpture is dedicated to the Unknown Tourist. For many years a celebrated British photographer (Jacqueline Bisset) has lived on the island with her daughter, and when the story opens, her past and future are both about to catch up with her.
She lives in a lazy white house in a small town that, until now, has not been discovered by the tourists. But now they have started to arrive in numbers, and that has created a schism in the most prominent local family. The son, Yanni (Paris Tselios) wants to turn the ancient family store into a T-shirt shop, while his mother (the immortal Irene Papas) wants to drive all tourists from the island.
Yanni has commissioned a trendy sculptor to create the monument to the Unknown Tourist. And because the sculptor is played by James Fox, we can all but relax, sure that something wickedly funny will come of all of this. The Fox brothers (James and Edward) are masters of a certain note of brave British dissipation. They play characters who are capable of doing fine things, if only they had the will. In this case, James Fox’s arrival on the island precipitates a small crisis, since Bisset is his former wife.
Other newcomers also arrive; one of the great pleasures of a film like this is in the introduction of the new characters. We meet, for example, Basil Sharp (Sebastian Shaw), the legendary British art expert who is an old friend of Bisset’s. He has come out to have a look at an invaluable Roman vase he once gave her and also to arrange a political defection. He confides in her that he has long been a Russian spy, and is preparing to meet Soviet agents and defect to Russia.