The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe (1942) Poster

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Feature-length film which seems more like an over-long short!
mark.waltz1 December 2003
I was excited to locate this movie on the Fox Movie Channel after looking for it for years on the late show and AMC. After reading Poe's works and seeing the much-altered film versions starring Vincent Price, I was sure this film would be a winner. However, why 20th Century Fox wasted 67 minutes on this film and made it look like an expanded episode from the MGM John Nesbitt Passing Parade Shorts is beyond me. It really seemed like a good idea to make a bio pic of Edgar Allan Poe, but this was not the way to do it. Edgar Allan Poe apparently had a life as interesting as his classic poems, but 20th Century Fox did not seem to care to take his story beyond "B-pic" level. John Sheppherd (later known as Shepperd Strudwick, veteran of daytime soaps) isn't all that bad as Poe, but this overly-narrated bio didn't really give him a chance to really delve into Poe's darkside. From his early years as an orphan with a kindly foster mother and jealous foster father to his ill-fated romance with a wealthy socialite, to his marriage to his own cousin (Linda Darnell, given top billing, but wasted here), Poe's life could have been expanded and given more detail. While "less is more" in some cases, this needed to be given less over-the-action narration and more character development. There is nothing to suggest why he fell in love with his own cousin or why he was considered an outcast by his foster father and ultimately society.

Jane Darwell, as his aunt and future mother-in-law, has the best acting moments in the film; This was right from her Academy Award Winning appearance in "The Grapes of Wrath", and obviously Fox wanted to play on her success. Linda Darnell was one of Fox's most over exposed stars, and only gave a few interesting performances. (Watch 1948's "Unfaithfully Yours" and 1949's "Everybody Does It" to see her at her best). It would have made more sense to cast the rising Gene Tierney in that part, as she could act as well as be beautiful. Mary Howard is simply way too young to be convincing as the foster mother who raises young Edgar Allen Poe; By the time he is an adult, their relationship seems more incestuous than loving. In real life, Ms. Howard was five years younger than Mr. Sheppherd! Frank Conroy is appropriately cold as Howard's husband, but his pairing with Ms. Howard just made me cringe as he aged and she remained fairly young and alluring. An interesting touch is the presence of Thomas Jefferson and Charles Dickens in single scenes with Sheppherd.

John Sheppherd (Strudwick) would have better luck exploring the dark side of a character with his Emmy Nominated role as Vicky's father, Victor, on "One Life to Live" in the mid 1970's, which followed a long stint as patriarch Jim Matthews on "Another World".

While more polished than Universal's series of horror films at the time (this only hints at the horror behind Poe's works), it fails even more because with Universal films of that era, you knew you were not getting gloss and glitter. But, from the studio that was giving us Henry Fonda, Alice Faye, Tyrone Power, Betty Grable, Carmen Miranda, and Don Ameche at that time, you would expect a bit more. Maybe some day, Hollywood will give us more than just a passing glimpse into the life of one of the greatest American literary figures ever.
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Boring biopic
JohnSeal5 August 2003
I can't attest to the historical accuracy or inaccuracy of this film--though I tend to think it is woven from whole cloth--but The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe is surely one of the least interesting biopics of all time. John Shepperd is a rather stiff Poe, Linda Darnell does little to enliven the proceedings as his great love, and even Jane Darwell is given precious little to work with. It's always fun to see Harry Morgan on screen, here a year away from his terrific performance in The Ox-Bow Incident, and Frank Conroy is sufficiently loathsome as Poe's stepfather. Otherwise, this is a Bryan Foy misfire, though thankfully bereft of Mr. Foy's penchant for newspaper headline narration.
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"We loved with a love that was more than love."
utgard1425 July 2014
Rather boring biopic about Edgar Allan Poe. If you removed the characters' names I doubt anybody would be able to figure out who this was about. The movie plods along with little excitement. Poe is a fascinating person and could make for a great biographical picture. He certainly was a complex man with many personal demons and an undeniable genius. This movie isn't willing to get that deep. Like other reviewers have said, it feels like a few short films pieced together. Shepperd Strudwick is part of the problem. He was a fine character actor but not a good leading man. Linda Darnell is pretty as always. Jane Darwell is her mother. Wish I could recommend this one but I can't. It's a cure for insomnia if there ever was one.
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Good Film
Michael_Elliott11 March 2008
Loves of Edgar Allan Poe, The (1942)

*** (out of 4)

Well handled, if a bit too short on detail, film about Poe (John Shepperd) and his struggles with life. The most interesting aspects are Poe's battle with editors over copyright laws, which was the real reason he has blacklisted. The film plays out like three short subjects put together for a feature film and I'm really not sure why Fox didn't put more detail into the film but then again, they did the same thing with The Story of Alexander Graham Bell. Shepperd does a very good job in the role and the supporting players are fine as well.

This has yet to be issued on DVD but if you can catch it on FMC then it's worth watching.
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Incomplete, soapy, dull, but reasonably accurate, biop
weezeralfalfa15 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
You will find most reviews of this short(67 min.), old('42), B&W biop scathingly negative. If you want a classy biop, rewatch "Lust for Life" or "Wyatt Earp", for example. Think of this as a soap opera sited in early 19th century America. Poe was no military hero nor charismatic political leader, no inventor of wondrous technologies, music nor frescos. His historical interest stems from his poems and often pioneering forms of prose, most of which have limited appeal to today's audiences. These writings were perhaps his greatest love, thus are legitimately included, although in quite a cursory manner. On the positive, the screen play sticks to facts more so than most of the factually very flimsy, sugar-coated biops of that era. It provides an abbreviated snapshot of the often early death-shortened personal relationships of the times. On the other hand, it could have done a much more thorough job of chronicling Poe's significant relationships with women. Also, it would have been revealing to mention that both his father and brother died quite young, apparently mostly from alcoholism, which also plagued Poe, and is suspected of being the main cause of his death.

While the very gradual debilitating terminal illness of Poe's young wife Virginia( the ravishing Linda Darnell) is the focus of periodic episodes in the latter portion of the film, it's not made clear that this was due to TB: a very common affliction of the times. It could have been brought out that his birth mother also succumbed to this disease only a few years after he was born, and that she died at the same age(24) at which his wife succumbed. In fact, the film totally ignores his first intense relationship with a woman: his birth mother, and the apparent traumatic effect of her loss on his subsequent psyche. Fortunately, as the film emphasizes, he had a good relationship with his foster mother, who countered the often stern and critical attitude of his foster father. However, as dramatized, she died when he was 20, still trying to sort out how he was going to make a living with a literary career. Thus, the recurring theme of many of Poe's poems of a beautiful young woman struck down in her prime is understandable, with the recurring death or departure of the woman closest to him. As dramatized, his widowed birth aunt(played by Jane Darwell) became his new surrogate mother. He came to cherish her growing daughter, Virginia, who had the qualities of beauty and a sparkling personality, that were admired in his popular actress birth mother. The film fails to mention that they were married when she was only 13 and he 27. However, it emphasizes that she remained devoted to him, despite his unstable and meager earnings, where another woman probably would have left.

Much of the first half of the film includes the ambivalent relationship with Poe's foster father: John Allan. Mr. Allan was a wealthy man and provided Poe with a good childhood education, partially in the UK. But, he declined to provide him with sufficient funds to continue at the new University of Virginia, nor as a cadet at West Point, being disappointed in his avowed choice of a career as a writer, editor, literary critic and lecturer, and chagrined at his gambling debts. Also, we get the accurate picture that his relationships with men in his very marginally livable profession were most often adversarial, leading to his frequent firing and unfulfilled ambition of editing his own periodical. Stemming from his status as a foster child, derived from low status actors, Poe had a lifelong need to prove that he was better than anyone else in what he did, and didn't hesitate to rake many of his literary contemporaries over the coals in print.

The film should have dramatized Poe's attempt at rekindling his teenage love affair with Elmira Royster(Virginia Gilmore) in the last months of his life. Instead, she is portrayed as 'the other woman' threat to a sick Virginia. As dramatized, their teen relationship gradually dissipated after he left for college, and Elmira's father destroyed their letter communications(as Elmira discloses later in the film). She had married, with children, but was a well-off widow when Poe was keen to reestablish a romantic relationship. She was initially hesitant, but finally gave in shortly before he died in Baltimore, in transit to his home in NYC: perhaps the victim of political gang mistreatment. This episode is merely alluded to when Elmira comes to visit the dying Virginia, who expresses her fear that Elmira has always been Poe's first love. Actually, Elmira is a stand in for another woman: poet Francis Osgood, who did establish a brief relationship with Poe during Virginia's dying months. She did often visit Virginia, who actually encouraged this relationship as being good for Poe's sanity and future. The film also ignores 2 other women : Sarah Whitman and Nancy Richmond, with whom Poe formed short-term intense relationships during his rather brief post-Virginia period.

Poe's dramatized meeting with aged Univ. of Va. founder and president Tom Jefferson over his gambling and drinking alludes to Jefferson's revolutionary vision of an ideal university experience and a very open relationship of the president to individual students. Thus, official prohibitions against various naughty behaviors were seldom enforced, as in Poe's case.

Presently, available on DVD, as well as on You Tube, in 6 segments.

For a good documentary treatment of the loves of Poe, I recommend a combination of "Edgar Allan Poe: Love, Death, and Women" and "The Life and Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe", both presently on You Tube.
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Way too brief
bkoganbing9 April 2018
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was acclaimed by many to be America's greatest writer in the 19th century. As you see he lived but 40 years. But this had to be a most complex mind to have written the poems and stories he did in that time.

Which you will not get from this biographical film that came from 20th Century Fox's B picture unit. All we get from him here is he was an alcoholic and he crusaded against the copyright laws which made him sell his work for pittance. Under today's laws Poe would have been rich. I also think he would have been as dissipated a person he was in his century as such like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Eugene O'Neill would have been in this century.

It's obvious this film had a bigger destiny for it, but Darryl F. Zanuck downgraded it to the B picture unit. It might have been something for Tyrone Power or Don Ameche. Sheppard Strudwick took the lead and he does turn in a fine performance with very little to work with.

The loves of his life are Virginia Gilmore whom he loses to another and Linda Darnell his beautiful, but sickly second wife to whom a lot of his work was dedicated.

A nice film, but way too brief and superficial.
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