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Anthony Adverse
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Reviews & Ratings for
Anthony Adverse More at IMDbPro »

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Relic for Cinema's Treasure Chest

Author: harry-76 from Cleveland, Ohio USA
11 August 2001

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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Largely Forgotten

6/10
Author: utgard14 from USA
4 April 2014

"Epic" story of an orphan named Anthony Adverse who grows up and makes a series of bad choices that ultimately may cost him the woman he loves. Admittedly, that's an oversimplified summary. I haven't read the novel on which this movie is based. It was a huge best-seller during the Great Depression but has since been largely forgotten. If anyone ever needs proof that just because something is popular today doesn't mean it will stand the test of time, point to Anthony Adverse.

On its technical merits, it's a well-made film of its type and era. The score is excellent. The film's strongest asset is a truly exceptional cast. Fredric March and Olivia de Havilland are fine leads with wonderful support from the likes of Edmund Gwenn, Claude Rains, Gale Sondergaard, and many more. This was Sondergaard's film debut and she won the very first Best Supporting Actress Oscar for it. Some of the cast plays to the rafters but if you're a fan of '30s melodramas this probably won't bother you. Others beware. It's an overlong film but I can't say I ever lost interest in it. I do think they could have shortened the first twenty minutes that dealt with Anthony's parents and it wouldn't have hurt the movie any.

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CANDIDE--without the cannibalism . . .

8/10
Author: Edgar Allan Pooh from The Gutters of Baltimore
11 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

. . . and though no one is pigging out on "rump steak" in 1936 Oscars "Best Picture" nominee ANTHONY ADVERSE, it is very hard to understand that the book version of this European-based soap opera could have outsold every previous novel in history, including THE GREAT GATSBY. Other message boarders ask, "When's the remake coming out of ANTHONY ADVERSE?" IMHO, there will the at least two dozen more GATSBY remakes (including some in 4D, 5D, as well as musical and cannibal versions) before there's ever a remake of ANTHONY ADVERSE (in other words, when Hell freezes over). Does this mean ANTHONY ADVERSE is the worse or most boring film ever? Not by a long shot. However, ANTHONY ADVERSE is hopelessly dated now, in a way that GATSBY never will be. GATSBY always will epitomize the American Dream. ANTHONY ADVERSE, on the other hand, is all over the map. One minute the title character just wants to please a father figure, though he never writes him and doesn't realize "pops" has croaked for more than a year. The next minute Anthony's Gung Ho for fortune and power, and will do anything--no matter how vile--to achieve his ends. Moment's later Anthony's a love-sick puppy, but just as quickly he's willing to settle for Bio-descendants and nothing more. In summary, ANTHONY ADVERSE is a weather vane, buffeted by an unattractive amount of ill-wind.

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ANTHONY ADVERSE (Mervyn LeRoy &, uncredited, Michael Curtiz, 1936) ***

7/10
Author: MARIO GAUCI (marrod@melita.com) from Naxxar, Malta
10 February 2014

For several reasons, I had always wanted to check this one out but it took me this long (specifically, the current Oscar season) to get to it: for being an epic from Hollywood's golden age, its winning four Academy Awards (including the first given for Best Supporting Actress), but also for its baffling neglect over the years (it has not even been accorded a "Warner Archives Collection" MOD release, so that I have had to make do with an old VHS-to-DVD-to-DivX transfer!); besides, while Leslie Halliwell rated it just *, Leonard Maltin was far more generous with ***1/2…

Anyway, the plot-heavy film (adapted from the 1,200-page Hervey Allen bestseller) is encased in a beautiful production which, at the time, was the studio's longest and most expensive undertaking; it was even deemed important enough to have a behind-the-scenes documentary (certainly among the very first of its kind), ostentatiously called "The Making Of A Great Motion Picture", attached to it but which, sadly, is not available at this juncture! The cast list reads like a "Who's Who" of international talent, both in star roles and character parts: Fredric March, Olivia De Havilland, Claude Rains, Gale Sondergaard (winning an Oscar in her debut performance!), Edmund Gwenn, Anita Louise, Louis Hayward, Henry O'Neill, Donald Woods, Luis Alberni, Akim Tamiroff, J. Carroll Naish, etc.

While I admit that the narrative is not the most exciting ever conceived and is, unsurprisingly, quite contrived (not least washer-woman De Havilland's – bearing the hilarious surname of Guisseppi {sic} – outrageous fortune in becoming an operatic prima donna and Napoleon's current fling, renamed "Mademoiselle Georges"!), there is no doubt that everyone approaches it with the utmost commitment. The result is thus rendered a good-looking and superbly underscored ride which manages not to slip into tedium throughout; no wonder that all these virtues (courtesy of cinematographer Tony Gaudio, composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold and editor Ralph Dawson) were recognized by the Academy…though the music nod was actually given in Leo F. Forbstein's name, then Warners' Head Of (this) Department! For the record, it was also nominated for Best Picture (losing out to the even more inflated THE GREAT ZIEGFELD), Art Direction (the work of the renowned Anton Grot) and Assistant Direction (in one of only five years where this honour was bestowed).

Incidentally, even if this has the look of a typical Warners epic – especially those directed by Michael Curtiz (who, reportedly, lent a hand at some point during shooting) and starring Errol Flynn – the feel is very different, because it stresses characterization over action: nevertheless, we get a swordfight early on and slave-trading occupies a good part of its middle section! As for the curious presence of General Bonaparte (among those who tested for the part was Humphrey Bogart!), it is worth remembering that he also put in a similarly unlikely 'cameo' in Rafael Sabatini's "Scaramouche" (splendidly filmed twice, in 1923 and 1952)!

There is no point in going through its episodic structure, since it is so vast, or even its flaws: with respect to the latter, suffice to say that, while March (it takes him some time to find his feet here, but eventually settles down and rises to the occasion when required) and De Havilland's characters are supposed to be of comparable age, the stars' 19-year discrepancy does not come in the way of their on screen relationship (still, it does not lead to a happy ending!). Even better suited, however, are the two delightful villains of the piece i.e. Rains (who, upon learning that he has been left in charge of the illegitimate child of his deceased wife, gives the distinctive laugh that had stood him in good stead under the bandages of THE INVISIBLE MAN {1933} a thorough workout!) and Sondergaard; interestingly, too, neither gets a comeuppance here!

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The most underwhelming epic of all time

5/10
Author: MissSimonetta from United States
20 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Here is a film to rival most 1950s biblical extravaganzas in terms of sheer dullness. Anthony Adverse (1936) is a slow, stately epic with flat characters and trite melodrama. For all its lavishness and beautiful recreation of the late 18th century, it has no depth whatsoever.

Top notch actors like Frederic March, Olivia de Havilland, and Claude Rains are unable to give great performances due to being saddled with one dimensional figures whom the audience couldn't really care less about. March seems barely awake during most of his scenes. His character goes through what should have been interesting development, but in the finished product it never comes alive. De Havilland tries to make her character (an ingenue turned opera singer mistress to Napoleon) interesting, but the writing holds her back. Rains' hammy villain is fun, as is Gale Sondergaard's (though how that cartoony performance won an Oscar is beyond me), but they're not enough to save the story from being by-the-numbers dreck.

As previously mentioned, the costumes are gorgeous. The sets are large and teeming with detail. You can tell they worked really hard to bring the world of the novel to life, but all that money is for naught when the story is so boring. A definite skip.

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Under-rated Epic, not Well-known

10/10
Author: scott-dix from United States
19 January 2013

Fredric March was quite a versatile actor, comedy, screwball comedy, epic drama, courtroom drama, period drama, great literature. The story is reminiscent of Les Miserables, the movie version in which he also played the lead role. I find it surprising that this film has not been remade, considering the countless renditions of Les Miserables there have been over the years. It is a sordid tale for the young, so would not recommend for children. The characters could use a bit more depth, but at 2 hours and 20 minutes, there is still a lot of ground to cover, in a 1300 page novel. It would be nice to see what was cut that did not make the final version.

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5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Hollywood politics as usual

Author: cstotlar from Milwaukee, WI
1 August 2007

I rented a tape of Anthony Adverse mainly to see what kind of performance the Academy was looking for in the first-awarded "best supporting actress" category. Gale Sondergaard's time on camera was actually quite brief and her villainous role required a strictly one-dimensional reading. There were no subtleties whatsoever, nor was there any need in the film for them. Ordinarily, it might seem surprising that her part would receive any attention at all, not to mention a prestigious award, but keeping in mind that Oscars in those days were to a large extent self-congratulatory spectacles passed around from studio to studio year by year, it really isn't surprising.

The film was long and episodic, as was the novel, and not particularly good at that. There was the glitz we've come to expect of course with the duels and chases thrown in for good measure. I kept wondering if the novel was written with Hollywood in mind. It's hardly readable nowadays. As far as directorial touches are concerned, it's no wonder that Mervyn LeRoy has long disappeared from anyone's pantheon. The kiddie-car version of France must have excited the Depression audiences. The film is very long and very expensive so perhaps there's something to say about that.

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8 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

One half of a bad film

2/10
Author: dxianson from Central coast of California
7 June 2003

There was no ending to this film. Everything in the film was unresolved. It had the feel of a project that was scrapped and cobbled together from existing scenes. When the film was over, all I could do was say "You've got to be kidding", over and over again. I love Olivia De Havilland, and the story had promise. Sadly, it did not deliver.

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4 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Claude Rains & Gal Sondergaard Make a Nice Couple

10/10
Author: whpratt1 from United States
31 March 2005

This is a great classic black and white film of the 1930's and a fantastic cast of veteran classic actors. Fredric March,(Anthony Adverse)," Hombre",'67, played a child who was abandoned with very little hope of ever having a family to love him or any future. Olivia Dee Havilland,(Angela Guisepple),"Hush..Hush Sweet Charlotte",'64, played a servant girl and also an opera star and had a childhood crush on Anthony Adverse. Edmund Gwenn,(John Bonnyfeather),"The Trouble with Harry",'55, managed to help Anthony Adverse and gave him the support he needed to find a place in this world. Claude Rains,(Marquis Don Luis),"The Invisible Man",'33, played a ruthless individual who stopped at nothing to make life difficult for Anthony Adverse along with his charming wife, Gale Sondergaard,(Faith Paleologus),"Sherlock Holmes and the Spider Woman",'44. This film takes many twists and turns throughout Europe and there is even mention that going to America will "Give You Peace of Mind".

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3 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

not bad

7/10
Author: kyle_furr
19 March 2004

The movie is 2 and a half hours long and it went by pretty quick. I was surprised at all the negative reviews because i thought it was pretty good. The only part that is pretty bad was the first scene with the two lovers, because they were pretty bad actors and it was pretty funny to see Claude Rains saying he's one of the world's greatest swords man and then watch him actually in a sword fight. In the first scene Rains kills his wife's lover and takes his baby and drops it off at an convent. It shows him growing up and falling in love with Olivia De Havilland. The was one part that didn't quite make sense, in which March goes to Africa to become a slave trader and i couldn't understand the reasoning behind the character.

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