In 1500, Duke Cesare Borgia hopes to marry his sister (widowed by poison) to the heir apparent of Ferrara, which impedes his conquest of central Italy. On this delicate mission he sends Andrea Orsini, his cousin Angela's lover and nearly as unscrupulous as himself. En route, Orsini meets Camilla Verano, wife of the count of Citta' del Monte (Borgia's next intended conquest); and sentiment threatens to turn him against his deadly master, whom no one betrays twice...Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This story takes place during the time of Cesare Borgia, who died in 1507; however, the first scene of the movie--which shows Borgia with other characters--takes place in a room decorated with a fresco of Saint Michael by Federico Zuccari, who was born around 1540, and who started to work in Rome during the reign of HH Pius IV (1559-1565). See more »
Despite a comment that Darryl F. Zanuck refused Tyrone Power's pleas to make "Prince of Foxes" in color because he was angry with his star, this is not true. The film was probably made with Italian funds that the studio couldn't get out of the country, and there just wasn't enough money to do this richly-produced film in color. Zanuck was too much of a businessman to let anger ruin a good opportunity. And why would he have been angry? Power was doing another swashbuckler like the big man ordered, wasn't he?
Despite not being in color, "Prince of Foxes" is a glorious-looking film, made on location in Italy. It's based on the Shellabarger novel about Andrea Orsini, a peasant with a fake royal name, who is sent by Cesare Borgia to infiltrate the court of Count Verrano, seduce his wife, and get rid of him so that Borgia's troops can take over his province. Orsini, however, double-crosses his boss.
The acting is marvelous - Tyrone Power is wonderful as the turncoat Orsini, and manages to hold his own against the flashier roles of Cesare Borgia (Orson Welles) and Belli (Everett Sloane). Though I doubt that Welles was terribly into his part, as usual he's excellent. When doing a role strictly for money, he had the habit of arching his eyebrow and intoning that glorious voice to make the audience believe he was doing something. It's only when one sees him as Citizen Kane or in a film like "Tomorrow is Forever" that one realizes these later supporting roles are phoned in. But who better to make the call than master technician Welles. Sloane does a fantastic job as a man who just can't stay loyal to one side and pulls one of the film's big surprises. The part is cut down from the book, which is a pity.
The music, the scenery - amazing. The great halls are like nothing you've ever seen. For once, Tyrone Power has competition for beauty! By the time of Prince of Foxes, he was totally sick of these roles, but he had a few years left before Zanuck turned him loose. It's said that he was too old to be a swashbuckler by 1949 - he was 35, which today is nothing, though he often had to play parts that were intended for someone 10 or even 15 years younger. As a result, he sometimes looked tired out. But not here. Perhaps this film was more tolerable for him because of his impending marriage to Linda Christian, his second wife. In any event, he comes off very well.
One thing I never understood is why Zanuck insisted on casting the post-war Power opposite these vapid starlets - Wanda Hendrix in this, Cecile Aubry in "The Black Rose," Jean Peters in "Captain from Castile" etc. - of these, the only "find" was the wonderful Peters. Hendrix is okay in "Prince of Foxes" but that's about it. The role called for a little more depth than she was able to give.
All in all, beautiful to watch, an intriguing story, excellent acting. Recommended, and, by the way, soon to be released in DVD as part of the Tyrone Power Collection.
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