Release Date: June 27th, 1952 (USA)
Directed by: George Sidney
Written by: Ronald Millar, George Froeschel
Based on: Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini
Music by: Victor Young
Cast: Stewart Granger, Eleanor Parker, Janet Leigh, Mel Ferrer
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 115 Minutes
Scaramouche was a pretty well-renowned film in its day. However, it isn’t one that you hear a lot about anymore. When looking back on those old swashbuckling movies, people tend to remember those that starred Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power: two giant names in film history. Many don’t seem to remember Stewart Granger in his role as Andre Moreau, a sword-wielding French revolutionary that disguises himself as the clownish Scaramouche.
The film is based on Rafael Sabatini’s book of the same name. It was one of many Sabatini works that was adapted for film. Actually, it is the second Scaramouche picture, as there was a silent version released in 1923.
This is one of the top swashbuckling films of all-time. It is kind of cool that it flies under the radar, waiting to be discovered by those who are curious about the genre.
The film is beautiful, from the French countryside to the opulent interiors. The wardrobe is magnificent and the attention to detail was astounding. The final duel at the end, is one of the most visually pleasing sword fights I have ever seen on film. Not to mention that the fight choreography was some of the best, up to the point of this movie’s release.
Granger was great as Moreau and Mel Ferrer was equally enjoyable as the villain, Noel, Marquis de Maynes. The contrast in character between their personality, style and beliefs created a solid dichotomy that made their hatred for one another very believable. They were a great on-screen pair.
Eleanor Parker and Janet Leigh were both good as the female leads of the picture. The rest of the supporting cast also carried their weight.
It is unfortunate that good swashbuckling pictures like this aren’t made anymore. Sure, we have those Disney Pirates of the Caribbean films but they’re more over-the-top fantasy blockbusters that have more in common with modern summer movies than swashbucklers of old.
Scaramouche isn’t just a great movie, it is a reflection of a time when films like it could exist without computer generated bells and whistles. It is a much simpler film than the modern action-adventure outing, yet it is just as exciting.