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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In between the "Best" and the "Worst" are the movies that are reasonably entertaining, but could and should have been a whole lot better. Directed by Roberto Gavaldon (and with superb 2nd unit photography by Jack Draper), this movie rates with me just below the six out of ten mark. Certainly it starts off in a most promising manner with imaginatively photographed and excitingly staged crowd scenes set against visually impressive Mexican locations. But both script and direction lose their grip once the actors start to speak in earnest. Lloyd Corrigan turns the governor into such a bumbling stereotype, it's impossible to feel any sympathy for him when he is overthrown by John Sutton. In turn, Sutton then fails to turn his Count de Brissac into a thoroughly nasty piece of work. Instead, he's so stiffly formal that he makes the character plain wearisome. And as for the title role played by Arturo de Cordova, the man certainly looks like Casanova, but displays little of the dash or personality needed for the part. Lucile Bremer makes an attractive if unconvincingly disguised Lady Bianca. As for Turhan Bey and most of the rest of the cast, the lot are merely adequate, with the notable exception of George Tobias who alone plays with the energy and sparkle that the role demands. Admittedly, Nestor Paiva's Chief of Police seems to have come adrift in the sound department, as some but by no means all of his dialogue is obviously dubbed. As for the action scenes which started off with such a bang, they too fizzle out in both quantity and quality until they come to a halt with the final climactic sword duel between Sutton and de Cordova which is a very tame affair indeed! In many respects, the plot is rather similar to "The Adventures of Don Juan", but Errol Flynn is far more dashing than de Cordova while Robert Douglas has it all over John Sutton for enthusiastic villainy. And when you compare the final sword duel in "Don Juan" with that in Casanova, there is really no comparison. One is exciting and vigorously staged, the other is a weak affair between two no-hopers in not particularly fancy dress. Casanova's best assets are neither acting nor script, neither direction nor editing, but photography and sets. They at least are worth looking at!
Don't look for historical accuracy, but this story of history's best-known self-confessed lover leading a rebellion against foreign tyranny in late 18th century Sicily has great sword play, romantic intrigue, good photography and a surprisingly big-budget look. Mexican actor Arturo Cordova is a smooth, athletic lead. American Lucille Bremert plays the feisty aristocrat who schemes to win his heart, and exotic Turhan Bey is the second lead who dies for love. The film is fun while you are watching it, but it is disappointing to learn that in 1973, when the movie allegedly took place, Casanova was a 68-year-old librarian living in Bohemia.
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