Saturday, 24 March 2012

Colourful and entertaining, 'Scaramouche' is a cut above the rest!

Scaramouche is a 1952 romantic swashbuckling adventure based on the 1921 novel of the same name by Rafael Sabatini. The film is set before the French revolution and begins with Queen Marie Antoinette (Nina Foche) asking her cousin Noel, the Marquis de Maynes (Mel Ferrer), to uncover the identity of a dangerous pamphleteer who is rousing hatred of the aristocracy.
Meanwhile, André Moreau (Stewart Granger), an illegitimate son of a nobleman, kidnaps his beloved Lenore (Eleanor Parker) to keep her from marrying another man. Moreau learns that his father is the Count de Gavrillac and as when travelling to meet him, he meets Aline de Gavrillac (Janet Leigh), the Queen's ward. He is romantic drawn to her at first but learns that they are related.
De Maynes encounters the pamphleteer named “Marcus Brutus”, who turns out to be Moreau's best friend, Philippe de Valmorin (Richard Anderson). De Maynes provokes de Valmorin into a duel and Moreau is concerned that the fight is so one-sided because De Maynes is an outstanding swordsman. This turns out to be true because De Maynes teases de Valmorin before killing him. An enraged Moreau vows to kill de Maynes the same way he slew de Valmorin. But how can de Maynes defeat the greatest swordsman in France?

Scaramouche is a visually stunning classic from MGM, stylishly directed by George Sidney with key cinematography by Charles Rosher. The superior screenplay by Ronald Millar and George Froeschel based on the Sabatini novel works well and the whole production looks very lush. The performances from Stewart Granger (Moreau), Eleanor Parker (Lenore) and Janet Leigh (Aline de Gavrillac) are excellent but it is Mel Ferrer (as the Marquis de Maynes) who steals the film. Ferrer portrays de Maynes as a dandy but vicious nobleman and makes a very admirable foe to Moreau.

Romantic and humorous with lots of genuine action sequences including one of the greatest sword fights (and on record as the longest) in the history of film, Scaramouche is a very entertaining adventure that is enjoyable after countless viewings. Wonderful stuff!
RATING *****

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