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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>
Hervey Allen (1889-1949) spun quite an elaborate, sweeping 18th-19th century yarn in the form of a gigantic novel, published in 1933, called "Anthony Adverse." It became a best-seller, and three years later Warner Bros. brought it to the screen, directed by Mervyn LeRoy.
The film was very long, comprehensive, and romanitc, in Allen's quasi-Dumas-Dickens-Tolstoy style.
Heading the cast were four of the screen's finest actors, leading players Fredric March and Olivia de Havilland; and supporting character players Claude Rains and Gale Sondergaard.
Providing the musical score was the legendary Eric Wolfgang Korngold (with orchestrations by Hugo Friedhofer) and classic masque and operatic excerpts by Monteverdi and Francetti.
The 141-minute film today seems much longer than it is, as we follow Anthony's detailed "adventures" in Europe, Cuba, and Africa, with America targeted as a final future destination. The whole production, which was considered of blockbuster size in 1933 (and still looks impressive), emerges more like a historic relic that is occasionally pulled from a treasure cabinet, to observe and ponder.
The whole feel of the film now seems dated and out-of-fashion, but then that's what most memorabilia is. It's merely dusted it off, polished, felt for the moment, then replaced along side other treasured pieces from the past.
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