What do women want? Don Juan is aging. He's arrived secretly in Seville after a 20 year absence. His wife Dolores, whom he hasn't lived with in five years, still loves him. He refuses to ...
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What do women want? Don Juan is aging. He's arrived secretly in Seville after a 20 year absence. His wife Dolores, whom he hasn't lived with in five years, still loves him. He refuses to see her; he fears the life of a husband. She has bought his debts and will remand him to jail for two years if he won't come to her. Meanwhile, an impostor is climbing the balconies of Seville claiming to be Don Juan. When a jealous husband kills him, the real Don Juan sees a way to avoid jail and get some peace. He hides as Captain Mariano in a small town. After six months, he's ready to return to society: can he measure up to the legend, will women find him attractive, and what about Doña Dolores? Written by
In Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.'s memoirs, he and his father decided in 1933 to go over to Great Britain together for work. Fairbanks the younger wasn't satisfied with his film career at Warner Brothers and his father was falling head over heels with the British Lady Sylvia Ashley. She became his third and last wife. Doug Jr. said that they bonded while there closer than they did while he was a child.
Doug Jr. did a bunch of films and some stage work in London, his best known film in his British period was Catherine the Great with Elizabeth Bergner. Doug, Sr. did this one film, The Private Life of Don Juan and it's as tailor made a farewell to the screen as The Shootist was for John Wayne.
We all of us get older and even such sex symbols as Don Juan does. He's wearying of the life and I suspect has not the stamina any more for what he was known for. When rumor goes around he's been killed finally by an irate husband, Fairbanks decides with his faithful man Friday, Leporello, played by Melville Cooper to take a long needed rest.
The problem comes when he decides to make a comeback and no one believes this 51 year old man is the real Don Juan. Fairbanks was 51 when he made The Private Life of Don Juan and he did look pretty good for a 51 year old man. At least I didn't look as good when I hit that age.
What will the outcome be for the aged Lothario? For that you'll have to see the film and I will say that Alexander Korda provided a nice bevy of British beauties for Fairbanks to choose from. Such beautiful and talented folks as Merle Oberon, Benita Hume, Binnie Barnes, and Diana Napier all vie for Fairbanks's attention at one point in the film.
Best in the film however is Athene Seyler and her proposition to Fairbanks. Her scene with him is a delight.
I don't know if Fairbanks had it in his head that The Private Life of Don Juan would be his farewell picture. It needn't have been, his speaking voice registered well for sound and by 1934 he wasn't overacting as many of his silent contemporaries did and ruined their careers thereby. But The Private Life of Don Juan was perfect as a farewell performance for a man who was an American icon in his day, as much as John Wayne was in his.
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