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Olivia de Havilland,
Don Juan de Marana damages Spanish prestige in diplomatic circles with his indiscreet womanizing,although he attempts to rehabilitate his image after he meets the beautiful Queen Margaret, trapped in a loveless arranged marriage with the weak and feckless King Philip III. The Queen becomes the love of Don Juan's life, and although she is obviously attracted to him, the relationship remains appropriately platonic. Becoming caught up in court intrigue, Don Juan uncovers a plot by the King's minister, the ruthless Duke de Lorca, to become the power behind the throne. After de Lorca is exposed by Don Juan, he brazenly intimidates the cowardly king into compliance and threatens to execute the uncooperative queen. Helped by his friends, his servant Leporello, fencing master Don Serafino, and court jester Sebastian, Don Juan tries to foil the Duke's evil machinations. Written by
When Don Juan stabs de Lorca in their climactic fight, the knife is seen entering under his right rib cage in the area of the liver. In the next shot the knife is squarely in the middle of the sternum in the area of the heart. See more »
[narrating voice over]
In Europe, as the seventeenth century dawned, mankind was lifting itself from ignorance and superstition.
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THE ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN was intended as something of a 'comeback' film for Warner Bros. resident 'bad boy', combining the heroic elements of 'ROBIN HOOD' and 'THE SEA HAWK' with Errol Flynn's well-established (by 1948) reputation as a hell-raising womanizer. Unfortunately, the color production, Flynn's first swashbuckler in nearly a decade, was not a box office hit, but the comic adventure is today embraced by his many fans as one of his best roles!
It was not an easy film to make, as Flynn's carousing and disappearances (officially called 'sicknesses') stretched the filming, and forced frequent reshooting. Director Vincent Sherman, cinematographer Elwood Bredell, and editor Alan Crosland often had to 'cut-and-paste' snippets of many takes to achieve a decent performance from the star, and careful lighting had to be used to play down the increasingly obvious effects of the star's hedonistic lifestyle. (The closing scene, featuring then wife Nora Eddington, was shot nearly a year before the remainder of the film, and the change in the Flynn's physical appearance is clearly evident.) At 38, the star, who always hated being called a 'pretty boy' (to the extent that his home had few mirrors) was aging rapidly.
All this being said, Flynn tried to give the film the best he could. It had been a landmark film for his friend/mentor John Barrymore, in the first Warners' film with sound, employed for music and special effects only, in 1926 (THE JAZZ SINGER would introduce 'talkies' a year later). It reunited him with friend and frequent costar Alan Hale, who, at 56, was still a popular character actor, and whose son, Alan Jr., was starting to make his mark around town (he would eventually be best known as the Skipper in 'Gilligan's Island'). The script for DON JUAN, in development since 1939, passed through many hands, including uncredited help by William Faulkner and Robert Florey, with the end result being marvelously tongue-in-cheek. The score, by the legendary Max Steiner, became an instant classic, and would be reused, years later, in George Hamilton's ZORRO, THE GAY BLADE. This was a film which, despite Errol Flynn's self-destructive lifestyle, had enough talent involved to still stand up as one of the better films of the 1940s.
The plot involves roué Don Juan, tossed out of England after breaking up a 'diplomatic' wedding (a VERY funny scene), returning home to Spain to find evil Duke de Lorca (the sublimely nasty Robert Douglas) controlling weak King Phillip, and taxing the population to near starvation, with only the beautiful Queen Margaret standing in his way. Flynn quickly dispatches a de Lorca press gang, earning the Count's hatred, and the Queen's attention...and Don Juan finds himself truly falling in love, for the first time, with the youthful monarch (played by the radiant Viveca Lindfors). Assigned as a fencing master at the Academy, the legendary lover draws the ire of the Queen by stating his feelings for her, then is manipulated into another disastrous diplomatic blunder, involving, of course, another woman. On the run, he discovers de Lorca's ultimate scheme (manipulating the Crown into war), and with the help of the students of the Academy, he must save the King and Queen.
Featuring a great early appearance by Raymond Burr (as a de Lorca henchman), and a stirring final duel between Flynn and Douglas (expanded from the 1926 version, and featuring an astonishing climactic stairway jump, performed by stuntman and future 'Tarzan' Jock Mahoney), THE ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN is a gloriously adventuresome romp. Sadly, it didn't save Flynn's flagging career, but it certainly has earned a place among his classic films!
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