Edmond Dantes is imprisoned in the Chateau d'If without trial, for carrying a message from Napoleon in exile on Elba. After being told that he died in prison, his fiancé Mercedes is forced to marry his rival Count Mondego. Twenty years later, Dantes escapes with the help of the Abbe Faria, who leaves him the treasure of Monte Cristo. Dantes, now called the Count of Monte Cristo, plans his revenge on the three who framed him.Written by
Robert Donat made his only trip to Hollywood during the production of this film. Due mainly to his poor health, he was unable to travel to Hollywood again to film any of his other roles. See more »
During the fencing duel between Dantes and Mondego, in one brief shot near the end Sidney Blackmer holds his sword in his left hand instead of his right, which he does in the rest of the scene. This was obviously a shown in reverse as is often done to add footage. See more »
I was lucky enough to obtain a video copy of an excellent black & white print of this movie, as I believe the colourisation of current copies falsifies the viewing experience. The photography and lighting are so exquisite, only the 1930's movie-making artists - it was an art form then - could accomplish it and it has to be appreciated like an antique: old, but immensely valuable for that.
They truly don't make them like this any more, and after having seen some of the subsequent screen versions, I still don't believe this one has ever been surpassed. I have also read Dumas' novel and would say that except for some minor alterations to the plot, the movie is largely true to the book.
Robert Donat is a dashing Dantes, whose ageing in body and spirit during the course of the movie is utterly believable (but he even improved on his ability to portray a physical and mental journey a few years later, when he made "Goodbye Mr. Chips"). Elissa Landi is a sweet and witty heroine, and the villains are so beautifully characterised (notably Sidney Blackmer's Mondego) that it becomes all the more satisfying when Dantes deals with them according to their own villainous traits.
I particularly enjoyed the intelligent flashes of irony with which the grim story is suffused, such as Dantes' double-speak as he flatters his enemies, at the same time telling them truth which they choose to misunderstand. The script is fantastic, the acting luminous. I feel sorry for those who hesitate to watch black & white classics like this one - they miss out on the very essence of what the art of movie-making and acting really used to be about.
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