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Edmund Dantes is falsely accused by those jealous of his good fortune, and is sentenced to spend the rest of his life in the notorious island prison, Chateau d'If. While imprisoned, he meets the Abbe Faria, a fellow prisoner whom everyone believes to be mad. The Abbe tells Edmund of a fantastic treasure hidden away on a tiny island, that only he knows the location of. After many years in prison, the old Abbe dies, and Edmund escapes disguised as the dead body. Now free, Edmund must find the treasure the Abbe told him of, so he can use the new-found wealth to exact revenge on those who have wronged him. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <email@example.com>
Though opulent in clothes and decoration, not the best of versions
The first film of this story, that I came to know, was the 1975 version with Richard Chamberlain as ruthless avenger and I must say, this older film (1961) with Louis Jourdan as Edmond cannot compare with it.
Sure, the filmmakers made all efforts, if you look at the settings, equipment and clothes. But to my taste the film lacks suspense. The story unfolds nice and neat but without any climax. All dramatic moments are predictable. Also in contrast to the 1975 TV version here the music is no more than pleasant background noise without any dramatic effect.
The scene with the Abbe Faria in the dungeon is but a small intermezzo
nothing shows the development from the naive, unsophisticated Edmond
into the clever coldblooded count of Monte Christo by learning from the Abbe. Even this version is much longer than the 1975 film, it has less story in it. Here the count is still too much Edmond, showing more feeling as would fit for an avenger. Like an ordinary man, he rummages in the treasure, whereas Richard Chamberlain keeps this short and considers the treasure just a tool for his revenge.
The 1961 count of Monte Christo is still in love with Mercedes and tries to get her back and she also yearns for him. Maybe so much romance was wanted by the 1960s audience. So the ending - even similar with the 1975 version is not really credible here. Whereas in the latter it fits with the depicted characters, here it only seems to be a tribute to the original book. Considering the story unfolding in this older film, a happy-end would be the logical consequence.
Richard Chamberlain, on the other hand, is exclusively a count with barely any rest of Edmond left in him, whereas Louis Jourdan is as the count still too much Edmond and no sinister look can hide that. Jourdan is a brilliant actor and makes the best of it, however, he cannot save the film. It should be noted, that this very Louis Jourdan plays the State Attorney Villefort in the 1975 version - and plays it wonderful.
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