29 October 2020 | clanciai
The troublesome times of Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia
What makes this a great film is Paulette Goddard and the costumes. The plot is an interesting travesty on history, and both Lucrezia Borgia and her brother Cesare Borgia are given rather truthful and convincing interpretations by a script, that clearly had the ambition to catch something of the reality of the intrigues of renaissance Italy, succeeding much better than for instance "The Prince of Foxes" of the same year with Orson Welles as Cesare Borgia. But above all, the costumes are impressing, shining in splendour and luxury all the way through, and the music by Hugo Friedhofer adds to hte renaissance touch of splendour and drama. The psychological interest of the film is Paulette Goddard's realization of the conversion of Lucrezia Borgia, from as ruthless an opportunist as her brother, to something of an ideal duchess - she devoted her last years almost entirely to welfare and became more famous ultimately for her compassion than for her controversial reputation. There are many charming details as well, the painter, the poets, the ludicruous singer, and John Lund as the duke of Ferrara does his best and comes off all right. Macdonald Carey, though, as Cesare Borgia does even better and is palpably like the real Cesare and makes almost as convincing an interpretation of his character as Paulette Goddard. It would have been a treat indeed to have seen this film in colours. One last remark, Paulette Goddard never smiles throughout the film, being true to her complicated and serious character as twice a widow, but in the last scene she smiles and crowns the film and her performance with exquisite and irresistibly charming light.