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Saturday, December 21, 2013

LLOYD'S OF LONDON (1936)

With his lush eyebrows trimmed down to match co-star’s Madeleine Carroll’s, Tyrone Power moved up to Hollywood’s 'A' list with this energetic piece of historical hooey. They even got Freddie Bartholomew to play his character as a kid in the winning prologue which sets up his life-long bond with the young Horatio Nelson. Once he’s grown into Tyrone Power, keeping the future Lord Admiral free to fight the French and wooing lovely Ms. Carroll from her dastardly titled husband (a sneeringly witty George Sanders) keeps the plot running when we’re not getting a pain-free course in the symbiotic relationship between British Commerce & the Lloyd’s Insurance Syndicate: it’s Anglophilia Capitalism 101. Wonderfully shot by Bert Glennon and beautifully paced by underrated helmer Henry King, the film looks plenty lux, but without the over-polished, standardized gloss of later similar productions.

DOUBLE-BILL: Warners pulled off a similar trick the year before when they gave bit player Errol Flynn the swashbuckling lead in CAPTAIN BLOOD/’35 against Olivia de Havilland. But with Michael Curtiz helming & an Erich Wolfgang Korngold score, it’s far more stirring, more exciting, more touching than this is. And Flynn’s early follow-ups kept getting better, not necessarily the case for Power & Co. Though they did let Ty's eyebrows grow back in.

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