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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What happened to Louis XVII, the sad little boy who succeeded King Louis
of France to the title of king when that monarch was beheaded? This was
of the great historic mysteries from 1795 when the little boy was reported
as having died in his Parisian prison cell, to 2002, when a DNA test was
performed on the remains of the same little boy. The DNA test verified
the boy was the unfortunate son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, and
the hundred or so people who were said to be him as a grown man were all
(knowingly or unknowingly) imposters. Still, for at least the first fifty
years or so of the death of the boy in 1795, there was much interest in
question of what happened. Most notably, the lawsuits brought by the
so-called Duc de Richmont to prove his claim to the thrown, or the
by Wilhelm Naudorff (a Dutch engineer) who also tried (and failed) to
produce evidence establishing his title. In America, Mark Twain used the
odd story to create "the King" one of his two imposters
in HUCKLEBERRY FINN. It was about the most useful thing to ever come out
this tangle over an identity.
DANGEROUS EXILE could not be made today, because now we know the poor little monarch did die in captivity. In 1958 it was perfectly all right to make such a film, which explains that little Louis escaped by one of those Montgolfier balloons from Paris to Wales, and was soon taken in by some British aristocrats who sensed he was important. He is suffering from nightmares which reveal the prison life he has been going through (an example - when he was forced to watch from a window when his mother was beheaded).
Slowly his identity becomes settled, and Jourdan enters as a French aristocrat who has planned this escape, putting his own son in as a decoy. But Jourdan does not realize that a second plot has occurred that is centered on a Banker. This banker has had the "King" (actually Jourdan's son) rescued and is hiding him. But there are two other groups interested in the child: The authorities, desperate to avoid disclosing how they botched watching the little King, and the minions of the Comte de Provence (the dauphin's uncle - and future Louis XVIII). Eventually the minions of Provence kill off the little boy (thinking him the Dauphin). A poor boy from a local almshouse is passed off as the real Dauphin (who has died). Keith Mitchell, as a French army officer, goes after the real Louis XVII with his men, only to be beaten and killed by Jourdan in a private duel. The Dauphin ends by being willingly identified as the dead son of Jourdan's (so as to grow up with a normal, happy life). Yes, the plot is full of holes, but I still wish the Dauphin had had a happier, longer life, rather than his short one in prison, with it's dirt and negect (which helped kill him)>
Did you know that Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette had a son, and that this
son when he was aged ten and in danger from the Revolution, fled to a
Welsh island in a balloon? You didn't? Quelle surprise!
This is Dangerous Exile's basic premise. It's a fantastical and farcical one at the same time, and it's to the cast's credit that they manage to play it straight throughout. There is the usual amount of swashbuckling (although confined to the last third) and the kind of laboured "historical" dialogue which 50's screenwriters appear to have been unable to overcome. Jourdan and Michell both move with a stiffness and moody demeanour which can only mean there's a haemorrhoid attack on the horizon, while Belinda Lee (as an American visiting her rich English aunt!) provides an arresting decolletage but little else.
A lot of this movie was shot at night and as such has a brooding quality which often overwhelms the slight material. Hurst, a stalwart of British movies of the 40s and 50s, keeps things moving in a methodical manner, but when all's said and done, there are too many familiar, staid elements for the movie to work as a whole.
Mildly enjoyable if you like this kind of movie, and only 5 out of 10.
Colorful but empty spectacle purports to tell an alternate version of
the flight and plight of the young son of Marie Antoinette and Louis
XVI as he tries to escape sinister forces who wish his death and his
own aversion to ruling France.
Silly junk with terrible dubbing has lovely production values and one fun performance but is mostly overly earnest hogwash.
Belinda Lee is very beautiful and looks exquisite in her period clothes but isn't really given anything of significance to do.
Without a doubt the best and most enjoyable performance comes from Martita Hunt as the bedridden but sprightly Lady Lydia, a saucy old fox with a sharp tongue and a knowing outlook as well as some truly amazing and ridiculous wigs.
Keith Michell would go on to an impressive career that included his masterful work as Henry VIII but he is just another sneering villain of little distinction.
The real blank wall though is Louis Jourdan an actor capable at times of exuding a great deal of charm here he is a dull posing lump.
Ploddingly directed with a story that is not that compelling this is for ardent fans of costume pictures or the stars only.
Duke Phillipe De Beauvais, (Louis Jourdan) flies in a balloon along with a ten year old Louis XVII Richard DE Beauvais ,( Richard O'Sullivan) from Paris and the balloon became damaged and landed in Wales. Virginia Trail, (Belinda Lee) finds the ten year old and befriends him and brings the boy to her aunts home. Louis XVII is separated from his father Duke Phillipe who helped his son escape from being killed, and who was tortured in a prison. Louis XVII has constant nightmares from all the punishment he endured while in prison and he willingly tells his story to Virginia and Louis XVII at the age of 10 tells Virginia that he wants to marry her and will she wait for him to grow up, Virginia is 2l and it was quite a funny scene in this film. This film dealt completely with hiding this ten year old King and people trying to kill him.
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