Andre-Louis Moreau is a nobleman's bastard in the days of the French revolution. Noel, the Marquis de Mayne, a nobleman in love with the Queen, is ordered to seek the hand of a young ingenue, Aline, in marriage. Andre also meets Aline, and forms an interest in her. But when the marquis kills his best friend Andre declares himself the Marquis's enemy and vows to avenge his friend. He hides out, a wanted man, as an actor in a commedia troupe, and spends his days learning how to handle a sword. When de Maynes becomes a spadassinicide, challenging opposing National Assembly members to duels they have no hope of winning, Andre becomes a politician to protect the third estate (and hopefully ventilate de Maynes).Written by
I have chosen this handle and this film to be my first review on this site because it was the very first film I ever watched.
However my enjoyment was limited due to the fact that I was five days old at the time. This resulted in a rather poor grasp of the plot and an overall lack of excitement from beginning to end. The story goes that the day my twin brother and I were taken home from hospital after our birth, Scaramouche was the evening film on the BBC and we were given our baths completely oblivious to the movie gem we were being treated to on our first night in our new home.
I personally do not remember this but I have been reliably informed that this is so.
Over the years however, I have acquired a great passion for the films of the golden age and Scaramouche, although not the best of films, is definitely a classic.
Stewart Granger plays Andre Moroe a free spirit, who's life has amounted to nothing more than his constant pursuit of fun and wealthy ladies in 17th Century France. However the murder of his closest friend, a revolutionist in the making, turns him into a man driven by revenge. However there is one tiny drawback as the man on whom he seeks vengeance is the best swordsman in France and Andre has never held a sword in his life. But he is determined to learn it's ways in order to meter out his terrible revenge.
Immediately taking up lessons he wastes no time in becoming an expert fencer........about half an hour in fact.
This however is for me the most entertaining part of the film as the student out-fences the teachers in a series of montage images. It also contains one of the best uses of the English Language I have ever seen on film....or maybe I'm just easily pleased.
'if i can no longer be taught by the man who taught my enemy, then what is more fitting in a mad world,than to be taught by the man who taught the man who taught my enemy' Catchy eh?
However all this time Moroe is evading the villain's men by hiding out in a circus of sorts where he has adopted the role of the masked Scaramouche.....the clown.
It is at one of his performances where Moroe comes face to face with his friends killer and in true Hollywood fashion, they duel in and out of the shocked spectators hanging over perilous ledges and high theatre balconies and of course up and down grand staircases.
Mel Ferrer is wonderful as the evil Demain and gives his role an almost Bond villain presence with his charm ans sophistication, and for love interest we have both Eleanor Parker and Janet Leigh (before she started taking showers) Yet for once Hollywood decided to put romance on the back burner and these two beauties, although great in the roles, have nothing more to do than parade around in cleavage inducing bodices, although that's fine with me. If this film is your cup of tea or not, it's worth watching for that alone.
There are other aspects of the plot which I need not go into here except that they amount to the "he was my father which makes you my sister" scenario and when the unknown brother is revealed, you will be forgiven in thinking you had tuned into a period edition of EastEnders but despite all this is definitely worth the watch.
Incidentally the final sword fight was the longest sword fight in movie history until Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta Jones fenced their way into the record books in The Mask of Zorro. They may now have the longest but Scaramouche still has the best.
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