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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

THE ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN (1948)


After a series of Westerns & WWII yarns, Warners anted-up for Errol Flynn’s first big swashbuckler since THE SEA HAWK back in 1940. Now pushing 40 and no longer the agile beau idéal of yore, Flynn wisely plays the bemused campaigner as a world-weary adventurer who’s grown a bit tired of his own romantic legend. Back in Spain after one misalliance too many, he falls in love with the Queen and stumbles upon a dastardly plot to take down the Royals. It supplies just the motivation Flynn needs to rouse his better instincts and his moral regeneration is both charming & emotionally touching. But little else rises to the occasion. The physical look of the film is too darn bright, often garish & unattractive. Sure, it all looks expensive, but overdressed and unimaginative, like an M-G-M production. From the very first cut (a misjudged close-up on a Juan inamorata) you know megger Vincent Sherman will prove to be no Michael Curtiz. He tends to sit on his stiffly composed set ups and shows none of the sweep, dash & brio of the still underestimated Curtiz. Equally missed are the handsomely designed less-is-more sets Anton Grot once brought to the party and Sol Polito’s chiaroscuro TechniColor lensing. Co-star Viveca Lindfors has none of the chemistry Flynn once shared with Olivia de Havilland while the large supporting cast only makes you long for the tasty players of the old Warners stock company. Why even Max Steiner runs out of variations for his jolly main theme. A missed opportunity.

CONTEST: The Max Steiner score was re-purposed decades later for yet another adventure romp. Name that unlikely film and win our usual prize, a MAKSQUIBS Write-Up on the NetFlix DVD of your choice. (And remember, no internet research allowed on the Contests. That’d just be too easy.)

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