Juan Cesare, a descendant of the Borgia's of Vienna, thinks he may have a murder streak in him acquired from his long-dead relatives, is is love with Florence Ballau, but her father lodges a... Read allJuan Cesare, a descendant of the Borgia's of Vienna, thinks he may have a murder streak in him acquired from his long-dead relatives, is is love with Florence Ballau, but her father lodges a strong protest. Papa Ballau is later found dead with a Florentine dagger of the Borgia ty... Read allJuan Cesare, a descendant of the Borgia's of Vienna, thinks he may have a murder streak in him acquired from his long-dead relatives, is is love with Florence Ballau, but her father lodges a strong protest. Papa Ballau is later found dead with a Florentine dagger of the Borgia type stuck firmly in him. Juan is all wrought up and tortured by thoughts he may have been t... Read all
Based on a novel by Ben Hecht, THE FLORENTINE DAGGER is raised above the level of modest murder programmers on the strength of its unusual plot, moody atmospherics and very fine acting. Sir C. Aubrey Smith graces the proceedings as a kindly old doctor who helps a young playwright and a spirited actress (Donald Woods & Margaret Lindsay) find happiness together, despite homicide and a possible family curse. Robert Barrat is also much fun as an eccentric, flirtatious police inspector; surprisingly, he becomes the story's true hero in the movie's closing moments.
The supporting cast includes Henry O'Neill as a Viennese theatrical producer; Florence Fair as his troubled housekeeper; Frank Reicher as a harried stage manager; Rafaela Ottiano & Charles Judels as worried Italian innkeepers; Paul Porcasi as a timid policeman; Eily Malyon as a lady who knows more about the murder than she's willing to say; and wonderful Herman Bing as a flustered Austrian baker.
The conclusion comes as a bit of a surprise, considering the Production Code's requirement for the punishment of all movie murderers...
Much is said, in the film's first half, about Cesare Borgia. It might prove interesting to review the facts of his life. The illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI, Cesare (1475-1507) started his rise to power early, first in his ancestral Spain and later in Italy. At the age of seven he was created prothonotary & canon of the cathedral of Valencia - but it was in 1491 at the age of sixteen that his career really started to move. Over the course of the next two years Cesare was quickly created bishop, archbishop & cardinal. In 1498 he renounced his cardinalate to become Captain General of the Papal Army. Working hand in glove with the Pope, his father, they furthered their schemes towards wresting a northern Italian kingdom for Cesare.
A marriage that same year with the sister of the King of Navarre and the acceptance of a French dukedom, gave Cesare & Alexander the French support they would need for their plots of conquest. By 1500 Cesare was fully immersed in his generally successful campaigns. (One of his victims was Duke Alfonso of Bisceglie, the husband of Cesare's wicked sister Lucrezia; that unlucky gentleman had been stabbed by a quartet of Cesare's assassins and subsequently strangled in his sickbed by Cesare's servant.) Hated & despised by the rank and file of the citizenry of Italy, Alexander & Cesare had to constantly fight against the overwhelming tide of public opinion.
Surviving one rebellion in his army - and treacherously murdering the ringleaders after feigning peace - Cesare's fortunes at last crumbled with the death of his father in 1503. The new pope, Julius II, was an implacable enemy and demanded the release of Cesare's dominions. Cesare was eventually captured by the Spanish, imprisoned in Spain, and made a daring escape. He now offered his services to his brother-in-law, the King of Navarre. Cesare Borgia's short, violent, utterly fascinating life came to an end in 1507 when he was killed in a skirmish with rebels.
- Ron Oliver
- Mar 3, 2004