In the War of 1812, the British have sacked Washington and hope to capture New Orleans, where pirate Jean Lafitte romances blueblooded Annette de Remy and openly sells his loot in a pirates' market. But he never attacks American ships. Can the British bribe Lafitte to help them? Can Lafitte persuade American authorities of his loyalty? Will a love triangle between Annette and pretty Dutch girl Gretchen (survivor of a pirates' prize) bring about Lafitte's undoing? Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
NEWS! This title has just been released in a shoddy copy on DVD. Wait until TCM shows it instead. I watched this film a couple of times while working on my own script. The War of 1812 is pretty much forgotten, except in Canada where it is part of the national identity. This is one of only three films that I know of in that setting.
Jeanie Macpherson writes well. From the Burning of Washington to the treachery of people in high places (Senator Crawford may be fictional, but cowardly generals, smugglers and spies plagued the Northern Frontier earlier in the War--aka TREASON), the plot twists result in scenes of true emotional power. The ending is brilliantly foreshadowed so that the audience sees it coming like a runaway train. And the dialogue? Pay attention to the scene in which the pirates do not want to fight with the U.S. but with the British: March is given electric lines to speak. The only thing that I did not like was Dominique You's character. He is a bit too cartoonish.
Fredric March gives a very good performance as Lafitte, but Franciska Gaal is wonderful as the dutch girl who loves him.
The battle scenes hold up quite well today. This is obviously made by the same director as the magnificent The Crusades and Cleopatra. Its pace is also quicker than the first half of The Ten Commandments (1956).
DeMille was at his peak in the 1930s.
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