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Private Life Don Juan (Amazon.com Exclusive) [VHS]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Douglas Fairbanks, Merle Oberon, Bruce Winston, Benita Hume, Gina Malo
  • Directors: Alexander Korda
  • Writers: Frederick Lonsdale, Henry Bataille, Lajos Biró
  • Producers: Alexander Korda
  • Format: NTSC
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: MGM/UA Video
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000059ZXT
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #560,121 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Fairbanks stars in this amusing tale of an older, balder, fatter Don Juan and his realization that his legendary power over women may be waning. Oberon costars as a younger dancer who persuades him that the old magic still lingers.

Amazon.com

"There comes a time in a man's life when he needs rest, and I'm going to have it!" So says the aging Don Juan (Douglas Fairbanks), badly needing a vacation from his status as the world's greatest lover. And so it was with Fairbanks himself in this, his final film after decades of swashbuckling stardom. It was 1934--the Great Depression was in full swing, and Fairbanks wasn't faring much better; audiences grew weary of the adventures that made him a superstar throughout the 1920s. Here, Fairbanks's farewell takes the form of self-deprecating satire, showing Don Juan on a diet, getting a massage after a night of leaping from the balconies of bored wives and swooning maidens.

It's fun to a point, and although Fairbanks seems as tired as his character, he gamely pokes fun at his image while upholding its screen traditions. The film itself is '30s comedy at its stodgiest; veteran British producer-director Alexander Korda has all of England's filmmaking resources at his disposal, including sets and costumes as lavish as they come, and yet he seems to have no affinity for the humor. It's hit-and-miss, with Don Juan faking his own death to earn his much-needed rest. The plan backfires, naturally, forcing the still-vital lover to convince his true beloved (played by Merle Oberon) that he'll be faithful to the end. Clearly, the best way to appreciate The Private Life of Don Juan is to view it in the context of Fairbanks's stellar career; isolated from that legacy of screen charm and physicality, this movie badly needs Viagra. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Scott T. Rivers VINE VOICE on March 16, 2008
Format: VHS Tape
Though appropriately cast in the title role, "The Private Life of Don Juan" (1934) proved a less-than-spectacular swansong for Douglas Fairbanks. Director Alexander Korda's attempt to duplicate the success of "The Private Life of Henry VIII" was a doomed enterprise. To make matters worse, the aging Fairbanks had little enthusiasm for his sound films, with the exception of the light-hearted "Mr. Robinson Crusoe" (1932). Despite Korda's fine production values, one wishes that Fairbanks had not made this flat and depressing "romantic satire."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dave Clayton on March 7, 2001
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Even by the often unstable conditions of the movie industry, Sir Alexander Korda (1893-1956)had quite a varied career. He started out in 1916 as pioneer director in his native Hungary, then emigrated to Austria in 1919, where he made the epic Samson and Dalila (1922), before ending up in Hollywood like so many talented figures from Central Europe. Although he was quite successful here--one of his hits was The Private Life of Helen of Troy (1927)--he was, I believe, ruined in the Market Crash of 1929 and returned to Europe. After a brief sojourn in France, he went to England and founded London Films in 1932.
Korda's London Films productions were the absolute antithesis of run-of-the-mill British movies at that time: cosmopolitan rather than provincial; literate rather than stagy; and often distinguished by an unusual visual flair. Nevertheless, precisely the things that made Korda's movies attractive to educated moviegoers in the 1930s are exactly the things that are likely to make them a deadly bore to present day viewers. The Private Life of Don Juan well illustrates the strengths and weaknesses of Korda's work as producer, especially in the casting. As one of the ladies of Seville, Merle Oberon looks photogenic enough and performs well, but as the aging Don Juan, the aging Douglas Fairbanks doesn't cut a happy figure, and his rather prosaic American enunciation clashes with the sculpted tones of British thespians. Moreover, the movie's coy attempts at risque humor, in contrast to the gutsy ribaldry of contemporary American pictures, come across today as the kind of stuff primarily intended to titillate someone's maiden aunt.
But Korda as a director is a rather different story--he may be the unique example in movie history of a producer whose best director was himself.
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Format: VHS Tape
"The Private Life of Don Juan" is a 1934 comedy from Alexander Korda and is notable as the swan song of screen legend Douglas Fairbanks. The Don Juan character comes from a 14th Century Spanish play, several books and plays (including works by Byron and Moliere) and the Mozart opera Don Giovanni (1787). The first film was in 1926 starring John Barrymore. Don Juan would be played later by Errol Flynn (1949) and Johnny Depp (1995).

Douglas Fairbanks (1883-1939) was one of the biggest stars in the early years of Hollywood, referred to as "The King" of Hollywood. Along with Chaplin, DW Griffith, and Fairbank's wife, Mary Pickford, he founded United Artists (1919). He founded the Motion Picture Academy (1927) and was its first President, was the first to put his hands and feet in the cement at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and hosted the first Oscar ceremony in 1929.

Fairbanks virtually invented the swashbuckler film and appeared in such classics as "The Three Musketeers" (1921), "Robin Hood" (1922), and "The Thief of Bagdad" (1924). He wasn't really known for his lothario roles, which were more the focus for his contemporaries Valentino and Barrymore.

Fairbanks was in England along with his son, looking for work, when he came upon Korda and hence this film.

Korda loved film biographies. Among his most famous are Oscar winning "The Private Life of Henry VIII" (1933), "The Private Life of Helen of Troy" (1927), "Rembrandt" (1936), "That Hamilton Woman" (1941), and "Bonnie Prince Charlie" (1948).

Merle Oberon (1911-79) plays one of Fairbank's love interests. She started in films in 1928 but it was her role as Anne Boleyn opposite Charles Laughton in "The Private Life of Henry VIII" (1933) that brought her to stardom.
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Format: DVD
Following the tremendous success of The Private Life of Henry VIII and The Rise of Catherine the Great, Alexander Korda decided to take on the Don Juan legend for his next film. This was not to be just another biopic but was rather to be a subtle look at aging and its effects on a legend.

Douglas Fairbanks plays the legendary lover trying to maintain his prowess in an aging body. He is separated from the wife(benita Hume) who loves him despite his exploits and is being followed by Rodrigo(Barry Mackay) who longs to be him. on a return trip to Seville after tweny years away his imposter is killed allowing him to attend his own funeral and to finally escape his legend for a short while. After a brief stay in France he finds that he is no longer as charming to the ladies as he once was for the simple reason that he has aged.

This is more of a comedy than Korda's other biographical films and the casting of the aging Fairbanks was a gem. There is still some of the swashbuckler left in him but his glory days are long past. Fairbanks plays this to the hilt. This film was to be Fairbanks' swan song. He died shortly thereafter a result of his own legend and the advent of the talking film.He never quite reached the status that he had once has as a silent star. For Korda this film was a dismal failure byt is quite watchable in retrospect.

The Eclipse version has not been greatly restored but the transfer is quite good. There are a few instances of inconsistant sound but all in all not a bad low priced presentation.
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