Reign of Terror (1949)

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Reign of Terror (1949) Poster

Robespierrre, a powerful figure in the French revolution, is desperately looking for his black book, a death list of those marked for the guillotine.


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3 June 2013 | AAdaSC
| Very cloak and dagger
Robert Cummings (D'Aubigny) goes undercover to end the reign of terror that has gripped France after the revolution in the C18th. Richard Basehart (Robespierre) is about to pronounce himself dictator. Basically, he likes cutting people's heads off and he really likes it a lot. He has a black book with the names of everyone who he'd like to execute, and this book is the key to his downfall if it were to fall into the hands of the French people. Can Cummings and fellow Freedom Fighter Arlene Dahl (Madelon) prevent Basehart from realizing his dream?

An enjoyable film which moves along quickly so pay attention or you'll get confused, especially at the beginning. Then you can just roll with it and enjoy the tense scenes that turn up along the way. A good example is when Cummings is about to come face to face with his supposed wife, who will obviously betray him by not recognizing him. This is because Cummings has taken the identity of her husband and Basehart and his cronies are watching her reaction and are ready to arrest him at the slightest indication of non-familiarity. There is a bit of unnecessary violence at the film's end but I guess they wanted to show what was really happening. Someone certainly isn't going to talk anymore.

The cast are all good - especially Arnold Moss (Fouche) in a very creepy role. Can he be trusted by anyone? I like the film's ending where a soldier with his back to camera announces his name to Moss after a brief word about the future of France. What a shame that the quality of the film isn't that good.

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