There is nothing to carp about in this picture. The stars are superb, the story sensational, and the scenery simple. The color blends instead of blares. The dialogue is droll and dramatic in proper turn. I have nothing but praise for M-G-M.
Director Richard Thorpe, who has one feather in his fedora for Ivanhoe, guided this old classic (I use the term rarely), through its third and probably last retake. It will be hard to improve.
I would like to think his latest release is the start of a new trend. Mr. Thorpe could do, I'm sure, a magnificent job on Mark of Zorro or The Corsican Brothers. The latest retake of Les Miserables, the ninth, I think, should be further proof to Hollywood that old wine often tastes much better in new bottles.
Stewart Granger heads the cast of classicists in the dual lead of king and commoner, Deborah Kerr is the provocative princess, James Mason the invidious villian, Jane Greer, a femina ex machina, and Louis Calhern the cunning colonel and tutor of tyrants. Louis Stone, who played the hero in the original version, appears briefly as the bishop.
The picture is a take off, on European intrigue at the close of the last century. The plot, hingeing on the daring double dupe, is complicated but clear. There is a fantastic fencing fiesta at the end, staged by Mason and Granger, both fencers of the old school. The gallant does not get the girl, an excellent theory of the new school. Greed and honor, love and duty, chivalry and chauvanism clash on the field of melodrama. Good wins, as it should, but then, bad doesn't loose. The villain escapes, as he should and there are several beautiful women whose fates are left in doubt. All of which provides interesting speculation over one's post-pic beer.
See it, by all means. It may be the last chance you'll get. Then write your congressman, or whomever one writes in these cases, and ask for more.