Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Friday, January 4, 2008


FOREVER AMBER (1947). Director: Otto Preminger.

A foundling raised in a stifling puritan home sets out for the big city and adventure and determines to make something out of herself so that she can be worthy of the love of the nobleman (Cornel Wilde) she's fallen for heart, body and soul – she eventually winds up the lover of King Charles II (George Sanders). Linda Darnell is not at all bad in the part but she offers her trademark hard-bitten edge (which served her well in other roles) instead of the ferocious Bette Davis/Joan Crawford/Vivien Leigh intensity that is required for the role of Amber. Richard Haydn scores in a role more dynamic than what we're used to seeing from this actor, as Amber's husband, the Count of Radcliffe. Wilde is fine, and Sanders is his usual wry, competent self although he seems a bit disinterested in the material. This can certainly be said of Preminger, who directs as if he would rather be doing anything else. Whatever energy the film has is derived from David Raksin's interesting score, although most of its power is derived from the orchestrations, which were done by others. The film's most memorable sequence (one which Preminger must have been awake for) has an old lady nurse trying to strangle a deathly ill Wilde so that she can steal his watch; this culminates in a rousing cat-fight between Darnell and the feisty old woman, who winds up strangled to death by her younger adversary. If the whole picture, entertaining as it is, had been on this level, it might have amounted to something more than a mildly interesting time passer.

Verdict: Proceed at your own risk. **1/2.


SajRising said...

The book, Forever Amber, was great, however. I would love to see this remade with all of Ambers adventures included this time.

William said...

Thanks for your comment. I'm going to look for the book, as I have a feeling it's very entertaining. With all the remakes these days, who knows? -- Maybe "Forever Amber" will get the full treatment some day.