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The swashbuckling adventures of the hero of the Revolutionary War. His contributions weren't always appreciated by the new U.S. government. After the way Congress show their displeasure by sending him to the Russia of Catherine the Great. Written by
Steve Crook <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This would be the last time Max Steiner would compose a film score for a film featuring Bette Davis. He had written several scores for movies starring Davis, and had been her favorite composer. See more »
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I have always believed that one of the reasons that John Paul Jones continues to be a fascinating figure is that we in America pride ourselves in that Horatio Alger tradition of the young man rising from humble circumstances to obtain wealth and prominence. Riches were not to be for Jones in his lifetime, but you can't fault the historical prominence he obtained as the spiritual if not the historical founder of the American Navy. And as the son of the gardener of a Scottish estate who ran away to see as a boy, his circumstances could hardly have been more humble.
Robert Stack makes a commanding John Paul Jones and he's a full blown hero in the tradition of the Samuel Eliot Morrison biography from which this film is adapted. There is a later book about him that came out a few years back written by Evan Thomas which presents Jones as the hero this film makes him out to be.
One thing that was overlooked is that it presents Jones as a man unlucky in love. Erin O'Brien-Moore and Marisa Pavan are the Virginia planter heiress and the French noblewoman who were the women in his life. I can assure you that there were many others, Jones was quite the ladies man, he never lacked for feminine companionship when on dry land.
Except for a cameo appearance as himself in Pepe, this film was the farewell role for Charles Coburn who played Benjamin Franklin who was Jones's biggest booster in the Continental Congress. He's good as the foxy philosopher Franklin was reputed to be. It is a factual error when you see him at Jones's death bed, Franklin had died a couple of years earlier in the USA. He also did not bring him the news of an offer of a commission in the Russian Navy under Queen Catherine the Great.
Bette Davis played Catherine the Great ever so briefly and I wish we got to see more of her. Jones did take command of her fleet and did defeat the Turks as per the film. It was the only time Jones showed what he could do as a naval strategist and he passed the test. His exploits with the Continental Navy were as a single ship in combat.
In vain Jones fought vigorously for a permanent Navy for the young United States. You see one of his opponents being John Adams. In an ironic twist of history when Adams got to be the second president of the United States and we were in an undeclared naval war with France, he got a Navy going in a hurry then. Our department of the Navy was founded during his administration, but John Paul Jones was a few years dead by then.
Despite some historical errors the film does present John Paul Jones as he would wish to be remembered. And this review is dedicated to the United States Navy, to the many men and women who have served and continue to serve in it, guided by the example of a fine fighting commander in John Paul Jones.
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