Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Pierre Blanchar, Georges Benoît, René Bergeron, Charles Boyer, Léon Courtois
Directors: Alberto Cavalcanti, Henry Wulschleger
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
Recently recovered and restored, here is one of the best films you've never heard of. This lavish, action-filled, poignant, and extremely cinematic adventure/romance follows the episodic adventures of a chivalrous noble (P... more »
Stylish French Silent Film Restored.
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 01/16/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Billed as "one of the best films you've never heard of", CAPTAIN FRACASSE gives us the rare opportunity of viewing a late silent film from outside America. This 1929 French swashbuckler is based on a well known French novel by Theophile Gautier and was directed by the Brazilian born director Alberto Cavalcanti. He is best remembered for his 1940's British films at Ealing which include NICHOLAS NICKELBY and the mad ventriloquist sequence from DEAD OF NIGHT.
Cavalcanti began his career as an art director which clearly shows in this film. The settings are marvelous (especially an inn called The Crowned Radish), the visual compositions consistently interesting, and the camerawork quite dazzling. The story plays out like a combination of THE THREE MUSKETEERS and THE CHILDREN OF PARADISE. An impoverished nobleman (Pierre Blanchar) accompanies a traveling troupe of actors to Paris where as "Captain Fracasse" he tangles with an evil Duke (a young Charles Boyer) over the company's ingenue (Lien Deyers who resembles a young Cybill Shepherd). There is lots of swordplay of course along with a daring rescue and just desserts for the villians. There is also a fascinating recreation of the travelling theatre troupes of that time which I found very interesting and highly entertaining.
Acting honors go to Pola Illery and Daniel Mendaille as a pair of gypsies who have important parts to play in the plot's resolution. While there is nothing new here the picture is extremely well made and served up like a fine souffle'. I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon or evening especially if you're a silent movie fan. The DVD features a beautifully restored toned and tinted print and your choice of a traditional piano score or a modern experimental soundtrack which was composed for the film's large screen showing in Paris in 2001."
Another gem from the late silent era
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 10/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This French silent film has all the qualities of a successful movie production: action, adventure and romance in an historic setting with realistic sets and costumes, with well-known actors in the lead roles giving some of their best performances. And lucky for us, some of these gems made at the height of the silent era and which were believed lost, have been found and restored in recent years for a new generation to enjoy. Based on a popular novel of the mid-1800s and reminiscent of The Three Musketeers, "Captain Fracasse" has similar intriguing plots with exciting swordfights, scheming gypsies, a devious duke who kidnaps an innocent young actress, and a lonely baron who loves her and becomes an actor touring with an acting troupe just to be with her. Like most silent films of the late 1920s, this film is as smooth and sophisticated as any modern-day action/romance adventure, and keeps up a steady, exciting pace without the need for much dialogue or intertitles to read. It is helped along by two exceptional musical scores from which to choose: a brilliant piano score with melodies very well suited to the historic period for those who like things authentic and traditional, and an experimental modern score for the musically adventurous among us. This modern score is probably closest to jazz, but has an airy and even surreal feel about it, in particular due to the unusual use of vocals. It may take a little getting used to, but I began to appreciate this contemporary approach after a little while, and praise the producers for offering us two very distinct musical scores to choose from. Another bonus feature is a short biography of the main cast and crew, giving a little more background to this production. But all these things aside, "Captain Fracasse" lacks nothing, and can be compared to the best productions of The Three Musketeers and similar period pictures, as well as being another fine example of the best quality silent films being made worldwide just before sound arrived and changed cinema forever from 1930 onwards.
Eric Stott | Albany, NY USA | 01/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I found this film to be great fun. Fine acting, a nice pace with few dull parts, and the visuals are sumptuous. The contemporary jazz score isn't to my taste but the optional piano score compliments the film well.
My only quibble is with Amazon.com- the title on the disc and case is Captain Fracasse, but they list it under it's French title Le Capitaine Fracasse. At first I though they didn't have it."