Circa 1861, Angelina, ruling countess of an Italian principality, is at a loss when invaded by a Hungarian army. Her lookalike ancestress Francesca, who saved a similar situation 300 years ... See full summary »
Douglas Fairbanks Jr.,
Against her better judgement, happily married Jill Baker is persuaded to see a popular psychoanalyst about her psychosomatic hiccups. Soon, she's disillusioned about husband Larry; and one ... See full summary »
Commercial artist Daisy Kenyon is involved with married lawyer Dan O'Mara, and hopes someday to marry him, if he ever divorces his wife Lucille. She meets returning veteran Peter, a decent ... See full summary »
It is a toss-up as to who is most displeased when Patrolman Moe Finkelstein is given the duty of guarding the German consulate run by Karl Baumer; neither Moe nor Baumer is too happy with ... See full summary »
Lord Windermere appears to all -including to his young wife Margaret - as the perfect husband. But their happy marriage is placed at risk when Lord Windermere starts spending his afternoons... See full summary »
In 18th century Russia,a naive and idealistic lieutenant,Alexei Chernoff, deserts his unit and rushes to the Imperial Palace to warn Empress Catherine the Great of great dangers.Lieutenant Chernoff's fiancée,Countess Anna,is one of the ladies-in-waiting of the Empress.Upon forcing his way into the palace, lieutenant Chernoff meets Chancellor Nicolai Iiyitch who promises to convey Chernoff's warning to the Empress but Chernoff wants to meet the Empress in person.His fiancée is also surprised to see Chernoff inside the palace.When Chernoff finally meets the Empress,he's mesmerized by her personality and swears to give his life to protect her.Catherine is impressed by his sense of sacrifice,innocence,sincerity,loyalty and also by his good looks.Infatuated with him,she makes him her boy-toy,to Anna's dismay.Overnight,Chernoff is appointed Chief of the Imperial Guard and his rank is raised to captain,to major,to colonel,according to Empress Catherine's romantic mood. Written by
Tallulah in the second (and last) film of her best period
...but, oh, so much more. This film is, as other posts have already indicated, a buried treasure. Produced and prepared by Lubitsch, its source is the same as that of the Lubitsch-directed silent "Forbidden Paradise" (1924, starring Pola Negri, Adolphe Menjou and Rod La Rocque), considered by critic Paul Rotha to be Lubitsch's most brilliant film. "A Royal Scandal," surprisingly, has taken a critical drubbing over the years, and director Preminger professed not to like it. (It should be remembered, though, that Preminger, when interviewed, was often vague about his films.) Seems that Otto, though a great admirer of Lubitsch (and who was not?) did not feel comfortable with "the Lubitsch touch," which, he says, too often sacrificed character for easy laughs -- and, in this case, required an empress to act unlike an empress. Perhaps -- but on the other hand, on the evidence of this film, Preminger's mastery of the Lubitsch touch was thorough. The film is brilliantly paced (rapid fire and crackling dialogue throughout), superbly acted, magnificently designed and photographed, and scored very creatively by Alfred Newman. One sees the seeds for Tallulah's famous (though by now, sadly, near forgotten) offstage character in her shameless cruising of the young soldier (William Eythe) who wants no greater glory than to be close to the throne. And at this point, she is young enough to pull it off gracefully, veering just to the edge of camp without crossing the line. Eythe is a more-than-promising comedian: his two brief blinks as the empress Catherine tells him that she can see in his eyes that he is "good and true" are alone worth the price of admission. (Scenes between the two of them comprise a good half of the film.) Charles Coburn is very wisely used -- a consummate reactor, he is often seen in the background tellingly reacting to two characters' interaction in the foreground. Which is not to say that he doesn't have his own very bright moments. (Catherine's chancellor, he is the character who makes all the wheels turn.) Anne Baxter brings fire and music to her role as Eythe's fiancée, and Vincent Price brings a great deal of wit to what is little more than a cameo as the French ambassador. Mischa Auer, too, is particularly good in this film (as he is not always). For once he is not required to pull out his heavy accent and -- surprise! -- he speaks perfectly excellent English! A thoroughly entertaining film, and perhaps if its director hadn't expressed his reservations it would have a better reputation today. In my opinion, it's really stronger and more of a "Lubitsch picture" than most any of the (in my heretical opinion) somewhat overrated Ernst's later efforts, "Heaven Can Wait" and "Cluny Brown", lovely as they are, notwithstanding: this one's a gem. Just released (March 2006) on a Columbia DVD in France. Not the most perfect print, but probably better than any seen in a theater for many, many years. (The French subtitles, on the other hand, can't be turned off, which is fairly inexcusable.) By the way, I watched this movie twice within a span of 24 hours and it was even better the second time. (Since this was written, there has been released in the U.K. a double bill DVD of this with "Margin for Error," Preminger's first film, which makes it something of a bargain, though "Margin" is hardly essential.)
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