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Destiny of a Spy (1969)
Not so Much the Movie; More the Location
I saw the film on late-night TV some forty years ago. From what I can remember, the plot and acting was so-so - a typical east-west "semi-noir" spy melodrama. What caught my eye, though, was where it was filmed. The location work was photographed in Uxbridge, a smallish town on the western edge of London's conurbation. It suffered the fate that many such towns did in the 1960s and 70s: buildings built in the 15th to 18th centuries swept away in a concrete make-over of its centre - Preston among them! The film however captured some good images of the southern part of the town centre a year or two before this municipal vandalism took place. Could this film be a useful addition to the town's architectural history?
Le comte de Monte-Cristo (1979)
As Close As It Gets
I caught this mini-series from downloads of episodes on e-Mule, which themselves were recordings of a broadcast on a channel called "Festival".
Weber absorbed himself into the Action Man Dantes, the superbly "Eton-French" Wilmore, the creaky, learned Busoni, but most of all, the pallid and languid Monte Cristo. Although the dialogue is in French with no sub-titles, even the limited French speaker will receive enough from the diction to understand a lot of what goes on (although reading the novel will also help greatly).
Is Roger Dumas, the actor playing Danglars, any relation to the author of the novel?
The six-part mini-series follows the novel painstakingly, and therefore suffers from the problems of some of the coincidental events that make the novel's secondary plot lines a little tenuous - for example: engaging Haydee as his companion before he knew of her connection with Morcerf; his servant Bertuccio happening to be the witness of De Villefort's burial of the "stillborn" Benedetto.
Nevertheless the acting excels: to my mind, the test is how your visualisation of the novel matches what is played out on the screen. To my mind, it did.
In comparison, the Depardieu effort twenty years later is somewhat contrived; attempts to improve the plot lines do not convince, and the ultimate betrayal is in the Hollywood-style cop-out of Dantes carrying off Mercedes at the end.