When lovely and virtuous governess Henriette Deluzy comes to educate the children of the debonair Duc de Praslin, a royal subject to King Louis-Philippe and the husband of the volatile and ...
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Olivia de Havilland,
When lovely and virtuous governess Henriette Deluzy comes to educate the children of the debonair Duc de Praslin, a royal subject to King Louis-Philippe and the husband of the volatile and obsessive Duchesse de Praslin, she instantly incurs the wrath of her mistress, who is insanely jealous of anyone who comes near her estranged husband. Though she saves the duchess's little son from a near-death illness and warms herself to all the children, she is nevertheless dismissed by the vengeful duchess. Meanwhile, the attraction between the duke and Henriette continues to grow, eventually leading to tragedy. Written by
Warner Bros. erected 67 sets for this movie, a record at the time. See more »
An error, not in the film itself, but in the Warner DVD commentary on the film, may confuse IMDb readers who consult the credits list. In his commentary, at about 14:45, Daniel Bubbeo identifies the actor playing the household priest (Abbe Gallard) as Walter Hampden, but this is an error. Walter Hampden plays Pasquier, the King's chief minister who leads the murder prosecution in the second part of the film. The actor playing Abbe Gallard is Fritz Leiber. Possibly Bubbeo was misled by a superficial resemblance between the two actors -- both being tall men with prominent noses. But in any case, the IMDb cast list is correct, and Bubbeo is in error. (For another prominent role of Walter Hampden, see his rendering of the Archdeacon in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a year earlier.) See more »
This excellent period drama is based on a popular novel of 1939 by Rachel Field. It told a version of the story of the murder, in Paris in 1847, of Fanny Sebastiani Choiseul-Praslin, Duchesse and wife of Theobald, Duc de Choiseul-Praslin. Fanny was the daughter of Marachal Horace Sebastiani, one of the leading political and social figures in the July Monarchy or Orleans Monarchy of France, under King Louis Phillippe (1830 - 1848). This was a middle-class supported monarchy, and was far more liberal than it's predecessor monarchy under King Louis's cousins the Bourbons. But by 1847 it had grown corrupt, and it was suffering a series a serious scandals. The murder of Duchesse Fanny by her husband was the last real blow. Supposedly the marriage had collapsed due to the growing relationship between Theobald and the children's governess, Mlle. Helene Deluzy-Desportes. The actual relationship between the governess and the Duc remains questioned, although most believe she was his lover. Rachel Field, a descendant of Fanny and her later husband, Rev. Martyn Field, presented the governess as the victim of circumstances (working in a household that was falling apart). Finally, whatever the cause, Theobald beat Fanny to death, and tried to make it look like a burglar did it. Instead the Surete was not fooled, and Theobald was arrested. But while under arrest he took poison, and he died denying his guilt and denying the involvement of the governess. Fanny came to America, where she taught school and married into the Field family (her brother-in-law Cyrus was a financier who laid the Atlantic Cable, and her brother-in-law Stephen was an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court). As for the French, they blamed the government for allowing the Duc to escape justice, and within a year the July Monarchy was overthrown. Marachel Sebastiani (Montague Love in the film) died prematurely in 1851 - the last victim of the crime.
The film, except for the pro-Deluzy-Desportes slant, is excellent with a fine, restrained performance by Davis, an intense one by Boyer (who finally explodes in one scene where he shows his thorough hatred for his wife), and a marvelous performance by Barbara O'Neill as Fanny. I would thoroughly recommend this one for movie fans - a fine example of the best of Warner's historical films.
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