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Monday, September 7, 2009

THE PRIVATE LIFE OF DON JUAN (1934)


Douglas Fairbanks ' last film should work better than it does. The story idea is sound and well-suited for a middle-aged swashbuckler: Riddled with debt, Don Juan goes incognito when an impostor dies in a duel. For a while, he enjoys the peace & quiet, but when he attempts to resume his true identity as the great lover, no one believes this aging fellow is the real Don Juan . . . and maybe that’s all for the best. The production designer, Vincent Korda, and lighting cameraman, Georges Perinal, turn in stellar work, and playwright Frederick Lonsdale’s script is literate & fun. Best of all, Doug appears comfortable acting his age in a Talkie. If only producer Alex Korda had let someone with a bit of directorial panache take over the reins on the set. Still, it’s a pleasant & graceful final bow for Doug and, in its stiff way, it looks pretty gorgeous in the Criterion DVD edition.


NOTE: That’s Australian baritone John Brownlee who sings the opening number in the pic. He’d play Don Juan just a year later, the Mozart/Da Ponte Don Giovanni in a legendary production @ the brand new Glyndebourne Opera and make a recording that’s never gone out of the classical catalogues.

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