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.,
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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 »
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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
"A Royal Scandal" from 1945 smacks of its original director, Ernst Lubitsch, and not much of the director who took over for him when he became ill, Otto Preminger. Since Lubitsch had rehearsed the actors and prepared the script, I assume they retained much of what Lubitsch had in mind for this film. At any rate, it's a wonderfully funny film.
Tallulah Bankhead plays Catherine the Great, who was notorious for taking lovers and elevating them to great heights while they were in favor. They did all right when they fell out of favor, too, because apparently she pensioned them off and they lived quite handsomely. In this film, she takes a fancy to the Countess Anna's (Anne Baxter) fiancée, Alexei Chernoff (William Eythe), so much so that she puts off a Marquis from France (Vincent Price). The Countess Anna is devastated, and Alexei is thrilled as he becomes in charge of the palace guards. Meanwhile, Chancellor Nikolai (Charles Coburn) has to tolerate him.
Some of this film is laugh out loud funny, particularly the scene where Catherine, fearing she has lost Alexei, collapses on the floor and Alexei tries to pick her up. Hilarious. Tallulah's line delivery is great, and she and Coburn have wonderful chemistry as they spar. Anne Baxter was only 22 when she made this film, and she's lovely. The handsome Eythe was a type that 20th Century Fox loved, but for a variety of reasons, he never hit stardom. Darryl Zanuck, who was so furious with Tyrone Power for marrying Annabella that he quashed her career and gave Power a bad film, Daytime Wife, as punishment, pushed Eythe into a marriage to quell rumors about him, but it didn't help, and Zanuck lost interest in him. (I mention Power because supposedly he refused to do this movie - it seems unlikely, because he wasn't back from the war when this film was made; also, Zanuck would never have put him in a film where he wasn't the main star.) Eythe was a charming actor, but to my mind, anyway, not really star material.
Bankhead's costumes and jewelry are to die for. Very good movie, and, as others have pointed out, a real buried treasure.
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