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The Comte de Gonzague schemes against his cousin, the Duc de Nevers, even though he is the Duke's heir and will inherit his estates. The Count has kept secret the existence of the Duke's bastard, recently born. When the Duke learns of his child, he journeys to wed the mother, a baron's daughter, in her father's isolated chateau. The occupants of the castle are surprised and murdered by the Count and his men. The only ones to escape are the Duke's friend, the skilled swordsman Lagardère, and the infant, a girl, now the rightful heiress to the Duke's vast fortune. The Count believes the pair to have drowned, when in fact they have been concealed by a travelling troupe of Italian players. Twenty years pass. The Count has discovered that the two survive and seeks to have them slain. But Lagardère gains the confidence of the Count, and employment as his bookkeeper, through his clever disguise as a hunch-back... Written by
Rapier fencing at its best in the tradition of Scaramouche and Cyrano.
I first mistook Daniel Auteuil for Gerard Depardieu. The French, it seems, have a predilection for unhandsome actors the likes of Yves Montand and Jean Paul Belmondo. But I am not complaining. I like them because they are so credible.
I highly recommend this movie if you liked Scaramouche, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Three Musketeers and other movies featuring dazzling rapier swordplay. The wonderful scenery, excellent choice of locations, intricate props and background really brings you back to France in the 1700s.
A nice American connection is made when the villain Gonzague is shown to be selling shareholdings in a land venture in Mississippi which at the time was still in French hands.
The armsmasters, fencing instructors and stuntmen did a wonderful job. The "Nevers attack," however, is dubious. A trained fencer can easily foil it.
Did you feel like giving the Duke of Nevers a scuff on the head for being so careless with his wealth and his life? But there are real people like that.
At times, the plot and dialog becomes maudlin perhaps as a sop to the ladies who would have to watch the movie with swordplay enthusiasts.
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