Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Prince of Foxes (1949)

Director: Henry King

Starring: Tyrone Power, Orson Welles, Wanda Hendrix, Marina Berto, Everett Sloane

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A Saga of Scoundrels in a Century of Infamy!

Plot: Set in Renaissance Italy, former peasant Andrea Orsini (Power) serves the unscrupulous Duke Cesare Borgia (Welles). But when Borgia sends him on a mission of betrayal, Orsini discovers love and rebels against Borgia, leading a deadly revolt against the duke's tyrannical rule.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Eh, if only to see Orson Welles

Well, well, well. I've just seen my very first Tyrone Power picture and I'm stunned. He did not live up to the expectations I had. I did not expect another Errol Flynn (nobody can match him in this type of role except for Douglas Fairbanks Sr.) but I didn't think he'd be so flat either. He did a lot of swashbucklers in the 40s, all of which are highly regarded which means I'll get to them sooner or later but I'm not exactly chomping at the bit to see them, either.

Orson Welles, on the other hand, is magnificent! His delivers his lines like poetry, and his insults...biting! Just watch this clip and you'll see what I mean...

"Spring in the lap of Winter." Classic! I realize that acting across from Welles was no simple task, but it's so hard for me to get behind Power as a star when you hear his line deliveries with such a lack of passion or finesse. The big battle scene is pretty damn cool with Welles's troops attacking the castle. There's not an awful lot of swordplay and it's mostly held off until the end but it's still fun. Alfred Newman's music adds to the adventure as does a nicely crafted script by Milton Krims based on the Samuel Shellabarger novel.

Oh, and one of the biggest pluses this picture has is location shooting in Italy. It seems like a given today but back then most everything was filmed in California. It wasn't until after WWII that studios allowed location shooting. I'm glad they did on this one because the scenery is gorgeous. I seriously need to take a vacation and go to Italy. What a beautiful country. So there you go, I dug an awful lot about this movie and the biggest disappointment came from Tyrone Power. I don't know; maybe his earlier adventure films fared better.

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