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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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Somewhat saucy romp has a ravishingly beautiful and amber haired Linda Darnell in the lead full of piquant carnality, lavish costumes and settings and a scene stealing George Sanders as Charles II. What it doesn't have is a lively pace and that to some extent is its undoing. Preminger was the wrong director for a piece of entertainment like this that required a florid touch, Michael Curtiz would have been much more at home at the helm.
The novel this is based on was a notorious but tremendously successful sensation of its day. That book while certainly not "A Great American Novel" is a highly enjoyable piece of pulp fiction full of sex, murder and double crosses in fancy clothes with a complex, very entertaining heroine at its center who has a good heart but is not overly burdened with morals. Unfortunately since they tried to film it in the forties when the Production Code was in full force the more salacious plot points had to be excised. What made it to the screen has its moments but shows the heavy hand of censors most evident in the abrupt ending but scattered throughout the movie. Still a fun romp with Linda giving a spirited performance and for those who haven't read the book a somewhat racy tone.
A troubled production from the beginning what with censorship problems, a recast leading lady, Linda Darnell stepped in after production had started when Peggy Cummings didn't work out and Lana Turner couldn't be borrowed from MGM and a martinet in the director's chair.
There are still a few amusing stories connected to the backstage upheaval that went on. Linda Darnell had worked with Preminger before on Fallen Angel and it had been rough going but she truly came to loathe him during production of Amber. Later while filming A Letter to Three Wives Joseph Mankiewicz needed her to throw a look of disgust at a picture unseen by the audience, to achieve that look he slipped a picture of Preminger into the frame without her knowledge, he got his look.
A small sampling of Preminger's directorial style: after acting out a scene for Linda and Cornel Wilde he screamed at them as they tried to do as he had instructed "Don't do it like I did it! Do it like I meant it!"
One peripheral story: when Ava Gardner was briefly married to Artie Shaw he flew into a rage and berated her when he caught her reading Forever Amber saying it was trash and she should be focusing her attention on things that would enrich her mind, he was that kind of husband. They divorced shortly after and within the year he had married Kathleen Winsor...the author of Forever Amber!
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