Saturday, January 11, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Adventures of Casanova (1948) at UCLA

The second film on tonight's UCLA double bill celebrating Arturo de Cordova was ADVENTURES OF CASANOVA (1948), a joint U.S.-Mexican production filmed in Mexico and released in the U.S. by Eagle-Lion Films.

After watching the flawless rich 35mm Technicolor print of FRENCHMAN'S CREEK (1944), it took a few minutes to adjust to the look of ADVENTURES OF CASANOVA, which was screened in an occasionally murky 16mm print from Western Television.

However, this is the kind of lesser-known film with an interesting cast which I really enjoy being able to see, so I appreciated being able to watch this fairly obscure film at all! As I became caught up in the storyline, I adjusted to the film's look. ADVENTURES OF CASANOVA was not of the same quality as FRENCHMAN'S CREEK, but it was fun.

Arturo de Cordova plays the title role, in a story which casts Casanova as a sort of Robin Hood figure fighting oppressive government in 18th century Sicily.

Casanova and fellow rebel Lorenzo (Turhan Bey) are involved with two lovely ladies, a governor's daughter (Lucille Bremer) and her lady-in-waiting (Noreen Nash), who confuse matters by trading names and backgrounds when they run away with the rebels.

It's a nicely paced 82 minutes with lots of swordplay, with the good guys battling evil Count de Brissac (John Sutton); there's also a bit of comedy along the way, chiefly provided by Jacopo (George Tobias), a rebel spy dressed as a monk, and of course there's romance.

I particularly enjoyed the chance to see another film featuring Lucille Bremer, a longtime favorite thanks to MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944) and YOLANDA AND THE THIEF (1945). I only need to watch a couple more films and I'll have seen everything she made in her brief career. Bremer met her husband during the location shoot in Mexico, and she did not appear again in films after 1948.

Noreen Nash will be 90 this year. Her career included appearing as the leading lady in a couple of Tim Holt Westerns. Her first husband, a doctor, passed on just a couple years short of their golden wedding anniversary; over a decade later, in 2001, she married James Whitmore, a union which lasted until he passed away in 2009.

The supporting cast also included Nestor Paiva, Jacqueline Dalya, and Lloyd Corrigan.

ADVENTURES OF CASANOVA was directed by Roberto Gavaldon, with black and white photography by John Greenhalgh. The screenplay was by Crane Wilbur, whose long career included the noir classic HE WALKED BY NIGHT (1948), released the same year as ADVENTURES OF CASANOVA, and CRIME WAVE (1954).

This film does not appear to be out on DVD or VHS, but it can currently be watched in sections on YouTube.

It's also worth noting that a CD with Hugo Friedhofer's score is available.


Blogger barrylane said...

The Hugo Friedhofer score is available on Compact Disc at Screen Archives. Well worth the price.

7:54 PM  

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