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Cecil B. DeMille
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 <email@example.com>
This film was pretty much what I expected from Cecil B. DeMille. In almost all of his films, you have a huge cast (this time in the thousands), elaborate sets and props, a rather silly romance and a desire for action and expense over realism and historical accuracy. Many love his films, but I find most of them time-passers.
As for the romance, this film features two for Jean Lafitte (Frederic March), though the dominant one involves Franciska Gaal. She's rather a comic book-like figure--more a caricature than a believable person and this is pure DeMille, as is the romantic dialog. At least it was much better than the lines uttered in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS by the Princess, but this isn't saying much. DeMille just had no ability to convey real people and real romance--he was more the epic action and spectacle sort of director.
Action-wise, there are some very long and well made scenes, though oddly, the naval sequences were awfully tepid. The battle scenes on land were handled much better and the costumes looked very nice.
Historically speaking, this isn't a bad film but it does contain many inaccuracies. Apart from glamorizing Jean Lafitte (who was a smuggler and total jerk), it seemed to exaggerate his importance to the Battle of New Orleans. While he did "rat" on the English by telling the Americans of their invasion plans, most accounts place the number of troops he sent to fight to be just a few dozen at most (though they were gunners--a welcome addition). Also, the fact that this battle actually took place a month AFTER the peace treaty was signed wasn't mentioned--as communication was such in 1815 that the British and Americans could not let the troops know that the war had ended for several more weeks. This made the outcome of the battle unimportant (but certainly not to the soldiers involved) and would have taken away from the excitement of the film, so it was simply omitted.
While I am complaining, I should also point out that the film never seemed to end. While it logically should have ended when this battle concluded, it continued and greatly lessened the film's impact and made me fidgety.
Overall, there's a lot of action (I'd give this an 8), some dopey romance and dialog (I'd give them a 3), some good and bad historically speaking (I'd give it a 5) and the movie was overly long. Overall, I think a score of 5 is merited. A decent time-passer but that's about all.
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