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Andre-Louis Moreau is a nobleman's bastard in the days of the French revolution. Noel, the Marquis de Mayne, a nobleman in love with the Queen, is ordered to seek the hand of a young ingenue, Aline, in marriage. Andre also meets Aline, and forms an interest in her. But when the marquis kills his best friend Andre declares himself the Marquis's enemy and vows to avenge his friend. He hides out, a wanted man, as an actor in a commedia troupe, and spends his days learning how to handle a sword. When de Maynes becomes a spadassinicide, challenging opposing National Assembly members to duels they have no hope of winning, Andre becomes a politician to protect the third estate (and hopefully ventilate de Maynes). Written by
Colorful swashbuckler remake of classic silent film.
Although I have not read the original novel, I can comment on the differences between the two film versions.
The remake's character, Lenore, Aline's rival for Scaramouche's affections, does not appear in the silent version.
The remake takes 35 minutes to reach the narrative point at which the silent version starts. This may be legitimate prologue material in the book not used by Ingram in the silent version.
SPOILER ALERT: In the silent version Scaramouche's enemy is an older man, a character by the name of the Marquis de la Tour (played extremely well by Lewis Stone, who appears in a minor role in the remake). At the end of the film it is revealed that in reality he is the father of Scaramouche. When this is revealed (the French Revolution being in high gear in the background), the Marquis allows Scaramouche to escape with his ward, Aline (whom he had hoped to marry) and allows himself to be taken by the mob.
In the remake, the villain is of contemporary age with Scaramouche, is named the Marquis de Maynes, and turns out to be Scaramouche's brother. He is spared in the climactic duel because of something preventing Scaramouche from taking his life - presented here as some sort of invisible recognition of kinship.
The silent version culminates in the outbreak of the French Revolution and since Aline is aristocracy, her life is in danger from the mobs and Scaramouche must rescue her. Although there is unrest leading up to a future revolution in the remake, the reality of it is merely hinted at.
The art direction in both versions is stunning, the silent version probably far more accurate than the sanitized Hollywood sets of the remake. The silent version enjoys sharper characterization and high drama, whereas the remake tries to be nothing more than a costume swashbuckler.
Both are enjoyable, but I prefer the silent version, which has better acting, direction and script.
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