In late 18th century Italy, a beautiful young woman finds herself married to a rich but cruel older man. However, she is in love with another, younger man. When the husband finds out, he kills the lover in a swordfight, and takes his wife on a long trip throughout Europe. Months later, she dies giving birth to a son. The husband leaves the child at a convent, where he is raised until the age of 10; then he is apprenticed to a local merchant, who gives him the name "Anthony Adverse" because of the adversity in his life. But his adversity has only begun, as fate takes him to Cuba, Africa, and Paris. Written by
John Oswalt <email@example.com>
Anthony Adverse- Anatomy of a Film on a Downward Spiral **1/2
Anthony Adverse was nominated for best picture of 1936! This is really hard to believe. What's even more difficult to fathom is that Gale Sondergaard was voted best supporting actress for her portrayal of Faith Paleologus, a vicious, cunning, sinister woman. This was Sondergaard's first film and she would begin her long career playing such evil parts.
The movie started out interesting enough as Claude Rains killed Louis Hayward, (Denis) the lover of Maria ( a beautiful Anita Louise.) Rains, a Spanish diplomat, was married to Maria. Hayward and Maria conceived their child only for Maria to die in childbirth.
Maria's father, Mr. Bonnyfeather, was admirably played by Edmund Gwenn. When I read the book, I knew that the part of Bonnyfeather would be played by Gwenn. He was perfect for the part.
Rains conveniently drops off the baby to a convent. The child grows up to be played by Fredric March and he becomes an apprentice to Bonnyfeather, not realizing that this is his grandfather. Faith is the housekeeper to Bonnyfeather who shall inherit his money providing that Anthony is out of the way.
The picture becomes uneven and even starts to drag when Anthony is sent to Africa to recover his grandfather's fortune. It is there that he is drawn into the slave trade.
The ending of the film is a real downer. It just goes to show you that unhappiness seems to be inherited as well.
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