A tragic and sentimental story that depicts the early career of the 19th century American actor, Edwin Booth with some mention of the events leading to the assassination of President ...
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A tragic and sentimental story that depicts the early career of the 19th century American actor, Edwin Booth with some mention of the events leading to the assassination of President Lincoln by Edwin's brother, John Wilkes Booth. In the film, Edwin's days in the spotlight dwindle shortly after his brother is caught and killed for assassinating Lincoln. Written by
After watching the movie on TV in 1971, Richard Burton wrote in his diary, "I remember the high hopes I had of that film and my disappointment at its indifferent reception. The original script by Moss Hart was very good when I agreed to do it but a year later when I actually did it had been murdered by Zanuck and his hacks. Some of it was salvageable however which accounts for what little success we had. It seems to me that I was outrageously pretty in those days and much prefer my present hard and ravaged countenance." (Hart is the only credited writer.) See more »
When Edwin goes to meet John at their sister's request, the soldiers in the saloon and guarding John Brown's cell are wearing gray uniforms with blue trim. This is Hollywood's version of Confederate Infantry uniforms. However, Brown was executed on December 2, 1859, a full year before South Carolina seceded from the Union. The uniforms should have been Federal regular Army dark blue. See more »
Once past the dated nature of a movie like this from the days when movies had more wordy scripts, we see Richard Burton as a classical actor in his youthful prime.
There is more than one script for this relatively obscure movie. The story of the two Booth brothers, Edwin and John Wilkes, during the Civil War is interwoven frequently with full recitations of Shakespearean excerpts, centuries older. As a skilled movie actor of the mid-20th Century playing Edwin, a leading 19th Century stage actor, young Burton imbues the role with a darkness that became his hallmark in later years.
For an actor known for bringing a more natural style to the Bard's works, Burton had to feel challenged to incorporate exaggerated gestures and profound speech characteristic of an older dramatic age into Shakespeare's lines. At times a play's lines are delivered with a different meaning in the context of the movie.
Maggie McNamara's performance as Mary Devlin, the wife who tames Edwin's darker spirit, should not be overlooked. She has a delicate but assertive quality in this production very different from her role as Maria Williams in Three Coins in the Fountain from the year before.
Overall, an excellent showcase piece for Burton early in his career.
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