Saturday, August 20, 2011

Scaramouche (1952)

Director: George Sidney

Starring: Stewart Granger, Eleanor Parker, Janet Leigh, Mel Ferrer, Henry Wilcoxon, Nina Foch, Richard Anderson

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The mighty novel of love, laughter, adventure, even mightier on the screen!

Plot: 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).

My rating: 10/10

Will I watch it again? Absofreakin'lutely!

"He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." - Sabatini

So begins the novel and 1952 film version of the swashbuckling classic SCARAMOUCHE. I've been in absolute love with this film since I first saw it at least a dozen years ago. I could spend A LOT of time gushing over it but my time is pressed and like a lot of movies that I love more than most, I'll be brief.

The script by Ronald Millar, George Froeschel and Talbot Jennings is dynamite, but then so is the Rafael Sabatini novel. The words are pure poetry and their delivery by the principal players, particularly Granger, Parker, Leigh and Ferrer, become songs that you want to sing as soon as the picture is over. It's like as a kid when you see STAR WARS (1977), RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981) or a James Bond movie and immediately afterward you're in the backyard recreating your favorite scenes with your friends. That's how I feel about the witty repartee in this picture. Just give me a rapier and I'll run the bad guys through and win his girl over after the duel. It's that simple.

The performances are stellar. From what I've seen, this is Stewart Granger's finest performance. He's delightful. The same can be said for Mel Ferrer. Though he's the villain, he's one of the most charming bad guys I've ever come across. Ah, and then there's the scrummy Eleanor Parker. She's feisty, playful and witty...and scrummy enough to have my babies. I'd also invite Janet Leigh to have my babies but then I know she's going to die partway through PSYCHO (1960) (SPOILERS!!!) and I couldn't bear to leave our children motherless. Well, without their biological mother, anyway. They'd still have a plethora of beautiful actress mothers to fill the void.

Our hero, Andre Moreau (Stewart Granger)

The villain, Noel de Maynes (Mel Ferrer)

Andre's girl (that is until he meets Aline), Lenore (Eleanor Parker)

and Aline de Gavrillac (Janet Leigh)

Then there are the OUTSTANDING sword fights. This is the finest example of swordplay on film I've ever seen. And that goes for every fight in the film and there are plenty. SCARAMOUCHE has the distinction of having the longest movie sword fight at 7+ minutes and it's one splendid duel indeed - possibly the best. It's nothing short of spectacular. As I watched this for the umteenth time I could help but feel that something like this wouldn't get made these days with the short movie-goer's attention spans and all. Not to mention you wouldn't see most of the fight as it would just be a flurry of images flashing on the screen with lots of loud noise and unnecessary music.

But let's not forget what SCARAMOUCHE also brings to the table, romance. Yeah, it's Holloywoodized period piece romance but the difference is this one is extremely well acted, performed and directed. SCARAMOUCHE is a movie that has everything - a massive amount of excellent swordplay, a vast array of choice dialogue and wit, a wonderfully rousing score by Victor Young filled with adventure and romance, a driving revenge plot and a romance with a few surprises. It's a perfect film in my book. There's not a frame I would alter nor a note I would change. I love this picture and encourage anyone with a taste for this type of film to give it a shot. Though the DVD is out of print and ridiculously expensive, you can still find it at Netflix.


  1. Thank you for reviewing Scaramouche! I am a HUGE fan of Eleanor Parker's and first watched the film simply for her. But, you are right on every account. It is a Hollywood Classic that hits every note right. I DVR'ed it from Turner Classic Movies and used to watch it all the time. Until said DVR bit the dust. Eek! Now I'm struggling to find a DVD version that doesn't cost my first-born....

  2. this is my absolute favorite swashbuckler of them all.... its witty, exciting, has great plot twists and surprises, great dialogue, the best ever swordfighting scene and is brilliantly acted..... the gentlemen are gallant and dashing, the ladies are lovely and dynamic... this is a perfect it!