"The only person on the scene missing was the jack of hearts....."
Now outstripped by Arsène Lupin,Rocambole was an adventurer whose adventures were so popular it gave a new adjective to the French language :Rocambolesque(=far-fetched ).Ponson Du Terrail,his creator ,belongs to the serialized novels writers such as Eugène Sue ("Les Mysteres De Paris" ) or Adolphe D'Ennery (whose "les Deux Orphelines "was transferred to the screen by DW Griffith as "orphans in the storm").In the novels ,Rocambole was first a true criminal ,going as far as to kill his own mother ;after ten years in a penal colony,he chose to redeem himself and became a dispenser of justice,helping the oppressed.
Rocambole was often transferred to the screen ,from the silent age on ;Jacques De Baroncelli made two episodes,in 1947 and 1948;they were not faithful to the spirit of Ponson Du Terrail .
Bernard Borderie's effort drastically wanders from the original tales,even more than the forties adaptations ;even Rocambole's female partner ,Baccarat ,is renamed "Tania" though her title of (false ,she's a former streetwalker,Rocambole dixit)countess Artoff is kept.
Channing Pollock,the magician ,is the main asset of the movie :he is handsome,mysterious ,elegant,full of humor and has plenty of go ;his talents as a conjurer are used even though they have nothing to do with the hero's skills.He would continue his French stint with Georges Franju in the remake of Louis Feuillade's "Judex".
The screenplay is not based on the series of books :it 's a pleasant story though,devoid of ambition and far-fetched,Rocambolesque,to be precise ;the way the hero scoffs at the police (here represented by superintendent Acus ,played by Guy Delorme,not cast as the villain for once) and ridicules the villain (Alberto Lupo) who wants to cause a war so as to sell his canons and to take the lovely ballerina (Edy Vessel) to his castle in the black forest against her will,is quite entertaining;the trick of the grand duchess's necklace and the final "death" of Rocambole and his renaissance as a true count are good moments ;an excellent use of the Caraccala Thermae is to be underlined.
Perhaps Borderie had a sequel in mind for the adventures of Rocambole could go on and on....But,by 1964,he had found a new heroine,Angélique ,whose success thoroughly eclipsed Rocambole .
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