Volpone, an elderly Venetian, connives with his money-crazed servant to convince his greedy friends that he is dying, knowing that each will try to curry favor with him in order to be named... See full summary »
Volpone, an elderly Venetian, connives with his money-crazed servant to convince his greedy friends that he is dying, knowing that each will try to curry favor with him in order to be named his heir. He is inundated with valuable gifts, and soon finds himself entangled deeper and deeper in a web of lies. Written by
One of the best foreign adaptations of an English text ever filmed
Virtually none of Maurice Tourneur's work is generally available in the late twentieth English speaking world.This has been thus far posterity's loss. The present writer, after extensive efforts,has only been able to view three of his films scattered over a twenty-five year period.It is enough to state there is a treasure trove awaiting excavation out there.His son Jacques is justly admired for what he could do with often seemingly intractable material and actors of ordinarily limited interpretive ability.Obviously he learned most every trick in the book for his adroit father but rarely had as literate materials as the senior Tourneur.The son's massive fan following should be fighting to see more of the father's work. M.Tourneur worked many years in Hollywood silents. The two available to me(both literary adaptations)show an incredible awareness of the auditory riches the audience cannot share and the duty of the director to convey as much of this in another media as humanly possible.When he later chose to shoot "Volpone" for a French audience, he was somewhat equipped for a herculean task.The script is by the best Elizabethan writer,apart from Shakespeare(whoever he was);but iit is a play which is more admired than loved and rarely performed, even on the English stage. Tourneur romps through it. Two of the best acors of their time,Harry Baur and Louis Jouvet,perform as if the play were originally written for Frechmen.The costuming and the photography in glorious black-and-white is what the word style is all about.But why go on?Ignore author Ben Jonson's advice and look on the picture,not the book.Then demand a Maurice Tourneur festival from somebody out there.
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