The Count of Monte Cristo
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Jim Caviezel (HIGH CRIMES) and Guy Pearce (THE TIME MACHINE) give sizzling performances in THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO -- the greatest tale of betrayal, adventure, and revenge the world has ever known. When the dashing and guileless Edmond Dantes (Caviezel) is betrayed by his best friend (Pearce) and wrongly imprisoned, he becomes consumed by thoughts of vengeance. After a miraculous escape, he transforms himself into the mysterious and wealthy Count of Monte Cristo, insinuates himself into the French nobility, and puts his cunning plan of revenge in action. This swashbuckling thriller will have you sitting on the edge of your seat until the last ounce of revenge is exacted.
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Hen's Tooth did a pretty good job cleaning this up from the original fine grain print for what they had to work with. I'm sure if a major company got their hands on it, it would have silkened a bit more. However, I can't complain. This is as crisp and clean as I've ever seen it.
Donat's Edmund Dantes is like Connery's James Bond. Yes, there have been other fine actors who carried the role but nothing quite like this. He has always been a fair-skinned actor. Given that plus the fine grain film and soft focus lens in the production, it's like watching a ghost. The additional cast of villains is just solid. Calhern's DeVillefort is just chilling, and Walbern's Danglars is the perfect skunk. Sidney Blackmer playing the role of the Spaniard Mondego definitely seemed miscast at first, but it worked well overall with the atmosphere.
Also, if you're a nitpicky fan of the book, and have never seen this, the story adjustments may well knock your head back. I won't reveal too much, although I will say that the fates of the three villains (not four; Caderousse is completely absent) are completely flipped around from both the book and the Chamberlain version from 1975. It was certainly "Hollywoodized", and the film moves along at a surprisingly fast clip. Given the time it was made (1934), that was a common tactic in filmmaking. Overall, getting this DVD in the mail, I feel like Edmund finally getting the Spada fortune!
Anyway, make up your own mind. Jim Caviezel is an excellent Dantes, there is certainly enough swash and buckle to go around, not an overabundance of blood although the "swords through the body" don't quite impress. There are only two of the those so they are quickly over.
One question: near the end, what is Mondego looking at? How long did it take for you to figure it out?