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Maria Montez was accorded top billing in this film by contractual agreement, although she is in the picture only long enough to take a bath in a tricky 17th century bathtub while sipping coffee with Charles Stuart and delivering dialogue in a barely-understandable French-accent. This is the second major film released within a short period with King Charles II as a primary character, and Charles here and Charles (George Sanders) in "Forever Amber" are two very varied approaches to the same character. This one takes place prior to the beginning of "Forever Amber" when Charles II and his followers are hiding out in Holland from Oliver Cromwell's puritan Round Heads. Being temporarily at liberty (or unemployed), Charles takes a day job at the farm/estate of Katie, and falls in love with her. Meanwhile he eludes his enemies by agility, enterprise and sword play, some of the latter performed while riding the blades of a Dutch windmill. He is summoned back to the throne and has to leave ... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Douglas Fairbanks Jr cultivating tulips together with a lovely peasant girl as a romantic king in exile in Holland
Max Ophüls is one of the greatest directors of all times, he started as assistant director to Anatole Litvak and learned very much from him, which you can see and feel in his films: they had a unique great efficiency of direction in common, but Ophüls added to his supreme mastery also a knack for moving cameras. You see that almost hallucinatory camera-work in every one of his films. His Jewish origin (his real name was Maximilian Oppenheimer) gave him problems with the German Nazi regime although he was an established leading director, so he changed his name and went to France - Ophüls is an old German aristocratic name, which he felt suited his image. He made no films between 1940 and 1947, being practically exiled but working in France and Italy and even America but returned to the screen in 1947 to make this flashing virtuoso film of exuberant romantic intrigue - the exiled king of England in constant fear of his life by the wicked roundheads escapes to a farm in Holland where he cultivates tulips with a charming country girl, with whom he naturally falls in love. Another exiled Englishman, an errant actor out of work, exuberantly played by Robert Coote, poses to be the exiled king to be treated thereafter but is visited by a French countess who knew the real king, which complicates matters, which are further complicated as the farm is invaded by roundheads who come to root out the king dead or alive. The film is actually written and produced by Douglas Fairbanks Jr, so it's really very much his film, and he makes the best of it in superb classical Fairbanks style with dashing duels and much kissing in between - especially impressive is the great hullabaloo with all the roundheads falling over each other in the desperate chase for the king in the windmill. There are great windmill acrobatics here. In brief, the film is a feast to the eyes, the story is mounting in intensity and interest all the way, the music is perfectly suited to illustrate the moods, the idylls, the drama, the tension and the high romance, it's in most ways the perfect adventure film where nothing is missing, and Max Ophüls' supreme direction and marvellous use of details crowds the film with opulent excellence from beginning to end. In brief, after seven years' absence Ophüls was back on the screen, and his next film would be the masterpiece "Letter from an Unknown Woman".
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