De Lesseps is a young aristocrat who conceives the idea for the Suez Canal. When Napoleon fails him, the British show interest. Though the production values make the film entertaining its historical content is generally agreed to be awful. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
In an interview in the late 1970s, director Allan Dwan talked of the censorship battle he had with the Hays Office over the wet-shirt scene, in which Annabella's erect nipples are on prominent display. "I wanted them to show," he said. His argument with the Hays Office was, "Have you ever seen a nude woman? Ever seen your wife nude? There was nothing there that wasn't positively true to life ... you knew she was going to be sexy ... that's why you picked her. The audience knows. This is my idea of giving it to them. All women are alike - they can go to the mirror and see that anytime." The matter was dropped as re-shooting the scene would have cost too much as the studio would have had to rebuild the entire set. Dwan said that his nemesis, studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck, was pleased with the picture. See more »
Sandstorm almost rescues talky, lumbering historical romance...
SUEZ is a stodgy romantic drama, a highly fictionalized biographical account of the builder of the Suez canal. It's got some nice costuming (for Loretta Young especially), some decent performances (Tyrone Power does nicely in the leading role and Annabella has a certain exotic charm), and the big storm scene is extremely well done as far as special effects go.
Power and Young were both at the height of their physical appeal and their close-ups are as stunning as Miss Young's wardrobe.
But it struggles to stay alive through the first few reels and it takes an interminable time for the plot to be resolved. It goes on and on at great length without making any sort of impression as a reasonably faithful biography of the man. The romance between Power, Young and Annabella seems no more than a cardboard romantic triangle such as the kind Hollywood often invented for biographies. (As, for example, in the Bronte biography, DEVOTION).
As historical drama, it's flimsy. Only the most faithful fans of Power and Loretta Young (both of whom are attractively photographed for maximum glamor) will really be satisfied with this one. All of the production elements are there, but the end result is not quite what audiences expected.
Most satisfying element is the great cast of supporting actors--Henry Stephenson, Joseph Schildkraut, J. Edgar Bromberg, Miles Mander, Nigel Bruce and George Zucco. Only standout flaw in casting is Leon Ames as Napoleon (before he became MGM's favorite father figure in "Little Women" and "Meet Me In St. Louis"). He just seems out of place.
The sandstorm is magnificent but comes too late to save the film.
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