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Olivia de Havilland,
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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
In the original novel by Rafael Sabatini, the climactic duel occurred outdoors. The shooting script had planned for the duel to occur in a garden, until someone had the idea of moving it to the theater. In the climactic theatre scene, a shot where Andre Moreau swings on a rope to arrive on stage was cut. Still in, however, is the later shot where he uses the rope to swing up to the balcony. See more »
During the final sword fight between Scaramouche and the marquis, when Andre falls off the balcony, a safety rope is visible under his cape. See more »
A breathtaking display of sword-fighting at its best, excellent acting from all the main characters, brilliant direction, superb over-the-top script and dialogue, first-class photography.
The final duel between Stewart Granger and Mel Ferrer is the longest in screen history. But more than that: its staging is first class. The protagonists fight up and down the theatre steps (of course), but also along the edge of balconies, in the foyer and even in the props warehouse. This is not just a sword fight, though: it's a display both of acrobatics and of the characters' personalities, with Granger's character exhibiting courage and magnanimity; Ferrer's is less generous but equally brave.
The drama is punctuated by scenes of low humour (at the clowns' theatre) and high irony (in the National Assembly).
Both of the female leads - Janet Leigh and Eleanor Parker - are stunningly beautiful. You feel sorry one of them has to lose Granger to the other; but at least the loser gets together in the end with a famous historical personage ...
Granger is Granger: suave, handsome, commanding. He is supposed to have done most of his own stunts: riding, duelling and climbing.
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