19 July 2005 | silverscreen888
Exciting, Satisfying, Large-Scale Adventure; Most Colorful
This interesting feature has a very fine story-line, rather colorful characters and a very steady pace. it also incorporates a plot device from "Reap the Wild Wind", and since Cecil B. Deille directed that and his son-in-law Anbthony Quinn directed this film from his preparations, that can hardly be a coincidence. it works in both cases, I must report. The unusual set-up tells the viewer that Barataria, an island ruled by Jean Lafitte is built upon piracy, but during the war of 1812, and before, he has always refrained from bothering United States' vessels. Now General Andrew Jackson has been charged with defending nearby New Orleans with only 12,000 men against 60,000 British Imperial redcoats and 60 ships. Lafitte's men want him to side with the stronger force; he wants freedom and pardons for his men before ceding such a strategic landing spot to the U.S. forces. There are other factors at work in the story-line; pirate Bonnie Brown and her father want to attack U.S. ships and do so in defiance of Lafitte's orders, leaving a boy alive without knowing they have missed an eyewitness. When his testimony finally comes out, Jackson cannot grant what Lafitte asks; but Lafitte supports him anyway and in the fog, the pirates and Jackson rout the British and he sails away to whatever destiny awaits a man who had genius and statesmanship but not fortune. The cast of this colorful and physically-lovely film are skilled indeed. Yul Brynner has one of his best roles as the pirate king, Inger Stevens is beautiful; as the girl he loves, Charles Boyer has many good lines as his adviser, powerful Lorne Greene is a rival, E.G. Marshall the Governor, and Claire Bloom is charismatic as Bonnie Brown. Others in the cast include Ted de Corsia, Douglass Dumbrille, George Mathews, Henry Hull as Jackson's adviser, Bruce Gordon, Onslow Stevens, Robert F. Simon, Henry Brandon, Fran Jeffries, and Leslie Bradley, among others. The music by Elmer Bernstein is very memorable, and the 1938 script remade here had only to be freshened a bit. The shiny cinematography was the work of veteran Loyal Griggs, the set decoration was supplied by Albert Nozaki, Hal Pereira and Walter Tyler, with set decoration by Sam Comer and Roy Moyer and costumes by Edith Head, John Jensen and Ralph Jester. Nellie Manley did the elaborate hairstyles and Wally Westmore the difficult makeup. The film contains quite a bit of good adventure-level dialogue and a very strong climactic battle scene. Charlton Heston, as as Andrew Jackson, prepared to play the part of an elder general and then discovered the man was young at the time of the battle; but he is often effective, grey-haired or not, especially in his exchanges with Henry Hull as Mr. Peavey. This is an exciting and well-mounted entertainment, which looks exactly as if C.B. DeMille had completed his production; it is a beautiful and nearly a very-fine motion picture.