French farce comes to the New World in 1840 as Claire Ledoux convinces the middle-aged banker who is her fiance that she is two different women -- a deception made necessary by the arrival of a man acquainted with the swath she cut across Europe. Giraud has been about to foreclose on a $150 loan made to a sea captain who needed the funds to court Claire. Get Claire's "cousin" out of New Orleans before the wedding, Giraud tells the sea captain and the debt will be paid.Written by
Dale O'Connor <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Marlene Dietrich, ever since seeing her for the first time in the brilliant 'Witness for the Prosecution' (where she gives a very memorable performance), was a very engaging actress and performer. Especially in the 30s, where she was in a lot of films that played to her strengths. Also like some of Rene Clair's other films, my personal favourite (and my first watched film of his) being one of the best versions of one of Agatha Christie's best books 'And Then There Were None'.
'The Flame of New Orleans' is worth seeing, if more a one-time watch than repeated viewings worthy. Dietrich did much better before and since, though she is not disgraced here, and the same goes for Clair who doesn't come off too badly still either. There are a good deal of good things here, including Dietrich, but some quite serious drawbacks that take away from the enjoyment somewhat. Making for an inoffensive and above average if not much more than that film.
Admittedly the story can be a little over-complicated and in other places it can be quite flimsy, the central triangle could have done with more personality perhaps too and the ending can be seen from miles off.
Did find Andy Devine a bit wearing at times and his comedy overdone.
However, 'The Flame of New Orleans' benefits greatly from classy production values, the sets and production design being particularly great. The music is immensely appealing to listen to and fits the film's frothy nature very nicely. The script is gently witty, charmingly frothy and has a lively energy. While the story can easily be criticised, at least to me it wasn't dull and it has a genuine charm underneath all the froth.
Clair's direction has the right lightness of touch, and doesn't get pedestrian. Furthermore, Dietrich is luminous and brings a lot of grace and verve to the lead role. Roland Young and particularly Bruce Cabot make the most of their fairly sketchy characters, having quite nice chemistry with Dietrich. The rest of the cast do good jobs, with particularly amusing turns from Theresa Harris and Mischa Auer.
Altogether, good frothy fun though with not everything working. 7/10
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