This delightful adaptation of Rafael Sabatini's swashbuckling novel stars Stewart Granger as Andre Moreau, an 18th-century French nobleman who is publicly humiliated by the Marquis de Maynes (Mel Ferrer). Challenged to a sword duel by the Marquis, Andre, who knows nothing about fencing, runs away, taking refuge with a theatrical troupe. He hides ...
This delightful adaptation of Rafael Sabatini's swashbuckling novel stars Stewart Granger as Andre Moreau, an 18th-century French nobleman who is publicly humiliated by the Marquis de Maynes (Mel Ferrer). Challenged to a sword duel by the Marquis, Andre, who knows nothing about fencing, runs away, taking refuge with a theatrical troupe. He hides behind the personality of Scaramouche, a zany clown, and in his spare time romances his sexy leading lady Lenore (Eleanor Parker). Seeking revenge against de Maynes, Andre takes fencing lessons from swordmaster Doutreval (John Dehner). It isn't long before Andre has developed a reputation as the finest swordsman in France--which, as intended, arouses the ire of de Maynes. The two opponents face off in a deserted theater; the ensuing sword duel, running nearly seven minutes, is one of the best ever committed to film. Before he can plunge his blade into de Maynes, Andre discovers that he and the Marquis are half-brothers. The two men instantly forget their differences, and Andre's honor is fully restored. He ends up not in the arms of the sensuous Lenore but with a woman of his own class, Aline de Gavrillac (Janet Leigh)--while a gag ending reveals that Lenore has found herself a new and highly influential boyfriend. Lewis Stone, star of the 1923 silent version of Scaramouche, appears in the remake in the supporting role of Georges de Valmorin. Hal Erickson, Rovi
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RS wrote Scaramouche. With his experience in travel and the diplomatic arena, his mind was able to wrap around myriad large-scale concepts such as the cultural and individual impact arising from political and personal decisions and alignments made by people in positions of power. A rich exploration of internal dynamics also flow in his stories as well. Political and cultural background dynamics and actions which typically do not advertise to the 'common ear or eye' but which influence the common way for benefit or oppression, are explored. RS has a richly-textured mind; his writing attests to it. Reading his stories can enrich our minds.
This movie: How do honest men of action deal with lies, injustice, and deceit delivered very personally into their world by intentionally evil persons? What sort of honor exists in the hearts of noble men who are not Noblemen - how does it shine forth from them? How can those good-hearted, decent, or creative folks walking the common paths enrich the general cultural experience? Can the forces of the Universe eventually conspire to bring justice impossibly to the doorstep of the impervious intentional power-abusers? The protagonist represents all who have Light and Love within them, oppressed by the works of selfish interests - the struggles between the forces of selfish power and the lot of the individual (especially of one who might be able to do something about it if opportunity opens the way). The antagonist is the pre-Revolutionary worst of the self-absorbed, privileged, powerful "nobility" - think of those in the original Cyrano de Bergerac or Three Musketeers, and you'd be on the page.
This movie runs fairly closely with the book. For those who are unaware of his brilliance, Stewart Granger was trained in the British Shakespearian tradition, when they had to learn horseback riding like a pro and fencing/sabre work as well. He enjoyed his craft. Result: he, like Lawrence Olivier used to do with similar training, did all his own stunts. In this Hollywood movie - some of those stunts leave a person breathless: "the theater scene" is its apex. Costuming for the wealthy, luscious.