Scaramouche (1952 film)

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Scaramouche
Scaramouche 1952 film.jpg
Original film poster
Directed by George Sidney
Produced by Carey Wilson
Written by Ronald Millar
George Froeschel
Based on Scaramouche 
by Rafael Sabatini
Starring Stewart Granger
Eleanor Parker
Janet Leigh
Mel Ferrer
Music by Victor Young
Cinematography Charles Rosher
Edited by James Newcom
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • June 27, 1952 (1952-06-27)
Running time 115 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $3,005,000[1]
Box office $6,746,000[1]

Scaramouche is a 1952 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Technicolor romantic adventure film based on the 1921 novel Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini as well as the 1923 film version starring Ramón Novarro.

The film stars Stewart Granger, Eleanor Parker, Janet Leigh, and Mel Ferrer. It was directed by George Sidney and produced by Carey Wilson from a screenplay by Ronald Millar and George Froeschel. The original music score was composed by Victor Young and the cinematography by Charles Rosher.

Plot[edit]

In France just prior to the French Revolution, Queen Marie Antoinette (Nina Foch) asks her cousin Noel, the Marquis de Maynes (Mel Ferrer), to uncover the identity of "Marcus Brutus", a dangerous pamphleteer rousing hatred of the aristocracy.

Meanwhile, André Moreau (Stewart Granger), a nobleman's bastard, kidnaps his beloved Lenore (Eleanor Parker) to keep her from marrying another man. Afterwards, Moreau learns that his father is the Count de Gavrillac. While traveling to meet his parent, Moreau runs into Aline de Gavrillac (Janet Leigh), the Queen's ward, when her carriage breaks down the road. They are strongly attracted to each other, but Moreau's ardor suddenly cools when he learns that she is his half-sister. He hides that information from her.

By chance, de Maynes encounters Marcus Brutus, who turns out to be Moreau's best friend, Philippe de Valmorin (Richard Anderson). An expert swordsman, de Maynes provokes de Valmorin into a duel, then toys with his inexperienced opponent before finally dispatching him. Enraged, Moreau attacks, but does no better than his dead friend. After de Maynes easily disarms him several times, Moreau chooses discretion over valor and flees for his life, vowing to kill de Maynes the same way he slew de Valmorin.

Chased by de Maynes's henchmen led by the Chevalier de Chabrillaine (Henry Wilcoxon), Moreau hides out in the commedia dell'arte troupe in which Lenore performs. Forced to disguise himself as the character Scaramouche, he discovers a hidden talent for acting. Burning for revenge, Moreau seeks out de Maynes' personal fencing instructor, Doutreval (John Dehner), and trains diligently in secret for weeks, while also performing with the troupe. However, de Maynes interrupts one such training session and they fight for a second time. Moreau is still overmatched. He is saved only when Aline and Doutreval unexpectedly intervene, allowing Moreau to escape.

Moreau decides that, to surpass de Maynes, he needs to learn from Doutreval's teacher, Perigore (Richard Hale), so he takes the troupe to Paris. There, Dr. Dubuque (John Litel), a deputy of the new National Assembly, seeks his help. The aristocrats in the assembly are systematically killing off the deputies representing the common people by provoking them into duels. Moreau is not interested, until Dubuque mentions that de Maynes is one of the duelists. Then he eagerly accepts the seat of a deceased deputy. Each day, he shows up at the assembly to challenge de Maynes, only to find his enemy absent on trivial, but official duties arranged by Aline and Lenore working together to protect the man they both love. However, other noblemen are eager to fight the newcomer, but Moreau wins each time, gaining valuable experience in the process.

In the meantime, de Maynes becomes engaged to Aline. Overhearing de Maynes' intention to confront Moreau that night, Aline persuades him to take her out instead. As luck would have it, they attend a performance of the troupe and, at last, Moreau has his opportunity for revenge. The two men engage in a spectacular, prolonged duel (reputedly the longest in screen history at about seven minutes) that ranges throughout the theater, from the balcony boxes, to the lobby, through the main seats, backstage and finally back on the stage itself. Finally, Moreau has de Maynes at his mercy, but something he cannot explain stays his hand. Later, Moreau learns that his father was not the Count de Gavrillac, but rather the old Marquis de Maynes, Gavrillac's friend; the man he almost killed is his half-brother. Then he realizes that he is not related to Aline, so they can be married. Lenore, after giving him her blessings, consoles herself with a certain Corsican officer.

Cast[edit]

Cast notes[edit]

Lewis Stone also played the villain, the Marquis de la Tour d'Azyr, in the 1923 silent version.

Production[edit]

The studio planned to adapt the novel in late 1938, with production set to commence in early 1939, though pre-production did not start until 1950.[2] Initially, the film was meant to be a MGM musical starring Gene Kelly, with Ava Gardner as Lenore and Elizabeth Taylor co-starring as Aline.[3] Their commitments to the film were confirmed in early 1951.[2] At one point, other than Kelly, Fernando Lamas and Ricardo Montalban were also considered for the lead.[2]

However, when Stewart Granger was contracted by the studio, one of his stipulations was that he star in the then upcoming Scaramouche project.[3] When Granger was cast instead of Kelly, Gardner and Taylor dropped their duties and were re-cast.[3] Eleanor Parker and Janet Leigh eventually assumed the roles. Granger was supposed to portray both André and Noel, with shooting taking place in Paris, though Mel Ferrer was eventually contracted to appear as Noel.[2]

Granger, who performed most of his stunts himself, took fencing lessons with Jean Heremans when preparing for the role.[3] The 8-minute long duel in the theater between Granger and Ferrer took eight weeks of preparation, including memorizing eighty-seven fencing passes.[3] Filming this scene left Granger with a wrenched knee, a damaged shoulder, and an injured back.[3] Other accidents on set included Jean Simmons – who was visiting her husband Granger – almost receiving a sword in her face, and a chandelier hitting a mattress where Ferrer was supposed to lie.[3]

Nina Foch, who appeared as Marie Antoinette, wore the same costume as Norma Shearer in MGM's 1938 film.

Reception[edit]

The film earned $2,739,000 at the North American box office during its first year of release.[4] MGM records put its foreign earnings at $4,007,000, and overall the movie made a profit of $1,062,000.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  2. ^ a b c d "Notes for Scaramouche (1952)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Scaramouche: Overview Article". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  4. ^ 'Top Box-Office Hits of 1952', Variety, January 7, 1953

Further reading[edit]

  • Monder, Eric (1994). George Sidney:a Bio-Bibliography. Greenwood Press. ISBN 9780313284571. 

External links[edit]