A parable about magic glasses involving on the nature of beauty, truth, good, and evil set in 17th Century Germany with music and Glorious Technicolor.A parable about magic glasses involving on the nature of beauty, truth, good, and evil set in 17th Century Germany with music and Glorious Technicolor.A parable about magic glasses involving on the nature of beauty, truth, good, and evil set in 17th Century Germany with music and Glorious Technicolor.
Why did Farrow choose to adapt what was clearly an adult story in that fashion? First, Harris' greatest legacy rests with his notorious and sexually explicit memoir, "My Life and Loves." When Farrow adapted "The Magic Glasses" in 1934, memories of Harris' salacious autobiography were still fresh in the public mind (he died in 1931), and the director needed a setting that would distance him from the libidinous eroticism of "My Life and Loves."
Harris has often been accused of engaging in a literary form of "Munchausen Syndrome." Baron Munchausen is synonymous with tall tales, and there are those who accuse Harris of compulsively fabricating material to such an extent that he ultimately believed them to be true. For example, Harris emigrated to the United States and mentions having witnessed the Chicago Fire although records prove he could not have been there at the time (October 1871). Perhaps by setting this story in 17th Century Germany, Farrow was referencing an inside joke as well as utilizing a beautiful standing set on the MGM lot, one that would be subsequently redressed for "A Tale of Two Cities," "Marie Antoinette," and "The Three Musketeers."
A subsequent film based on Harris' work is the 1958 Jack Lemmon Western "Cowboy," predicated on early parts of "My Life and Loves" which were ultimately extracted from the memoir and published separately as "My Reminisces as a Cowboy."
It's unfortunate that because of "My Life and Loves" infamous notoriety, many of Harris' other works have been largely ignored, including two books on Shakespeare and biographies on two of Harris' friends, fellow Irishmen Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw although his Wilde biography served as the basis for a 1960 film with Robert Morley about the author's sensational libel trial. The literary works of these three authors have been treated well by Hollywood, so perhaps it's not too late to hope that more of Harris' prodigious writing output will find its way to the screen someday.
- Dec 12, 2006