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Amber St Clair means to get on in life and despite a poor background knows she has the assets to do it. Husbands, lovers, prison and a liaison with King Charles II form a tapestry of apparently calculating ups and downs, although in fact the one love of her life, Bruce Carlton, is never far from Amber's thoughts. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
King Charles II:
[at a royal ball]
Look at them. My loving subjects. You'd never know that half of them danced in Puritan garb while my father went to the chopping block.
Amber St. Clair:
No wonder you seek solace in amusement, sire.
Amber St. Clair:
Can a common trollop help you to forget?
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Overlong, overwrought romantic epic that lacks chemistry between the leads. Linda Darnell is passable as Amber -- if not stunningly talented, then at least gifted with screen presence. But Cornell Wilde is as flat as a wet blanket, dousing the fire out of every scene where it might possibly have ignited. Most errors in movies of this type can be overlooked if the attraction between the two lovers is palpable. Sadly, there is no indication that Wilde's Carlton even likes Amber, let alone finds her alluring. Production code aside, there were plenty of movies of this period that portrayed believable epic love, and this isn't one of them.
The real highlight here is George Sanders as the licentious Charles II, a part he was born to play. I have no doubt that Vincent Price, considered for the role, could have done well (he gave the best performance of his career in another Preminger movie, "Laura"), but Sanders brings so much dripping wit and irony to everything he does that he makes every scene he's in come alive. He's not in it much, however.
The production itself is pretty good, some great costumes and sets. The swordfighting scene (with thankfully little dialogue) was excellent and far too short. The story itself is a little choppy. The first scene was a non-sequitur, promising a potentially interesting plot device that never came. And the ending was a complete disaster - abrupt, unresolved, unbalanced, and worst of all, unsatisfying. Overall, the movie leaves a sour taste in the mouth, as if the decadence that was portrayed somehow got hold of the people making it and caused them to focus more on the image than on the story.
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