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

Thursday, September 11, 2014


FRENCHMAN'S CREEK (1944). Director: Mitchell Leisen.

Dona St. Columb (Joan Fontaine) is tired of the way her witless husband Harry (Ralph Forbes of Convicts at Large) keeps throwing her at the slimy Lord Rockingham (Basil Rathbone) -- who keeps making passes -- so she takes off with the children to a summer retreat where she finds the cuddly old servant, William (Cecil Kellaway), waiting for her. She also finds a notorious pirate named Jean Aubrey (Arturo de Cordova) who claims he's really not such a bad guy as pirate's go. It isn't long before Dona is smitten with Jean and vice versa and longing for a romantic and adventurous life at sea. But can she forsake her children to go off with the man who has so aroused her fiery passion ...? Fontaine, as good as ever, has probably never looked more gorgeous and indeed the whole movie is expertly filmed in especially ravishing technicolor by George Barnes. Rathbone sparkles in his scenes as Rockingham, and the film's highlight is a rousing battle he has on a staircase not with Jean but with a desperate Dona. Mexican actor Arturo de Cordova is not terrible, but this part needed a sexier fellow, like maybe Errol Flynn, to make it believable; de Cordova was a major star in Mexico and South America, however. Victor Young's score sounds like ersatz Debussy. Based on a novel by Daphne Du Maurier.

Verdict: Stick to Rebecca. **.

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