Friday, November 4, 2011

Anthony Adverse (1936)



“Those who are destined to live during times of war and social upheaval are victims of cruel fate ~~ unable to find comfort in the past or peace in the present. They are the spiritual orphans of the world.”

            Can I just say how much I hate it when a movie gets off to an interesting start and then one thing gets screwed up for the characters and the movie becomes boring and ridiculously long? What I really cannot stand is when a couple gets pulled apart because of miscommunication or another person… that drives me up a damn wall!!! Then one person in the couple becomes moody and mean and annoying and gives up hope of many things in several ways. This happened in the fourth season of CSI: NY with Danny and Lindsay and I wanted to scream!!! It is such an overused plot and it is so boring and frustrating (thankfully, Danny and Lindsay worked their crap out by the following season but mostly out of necessity). I was all psyched to watch Anthony Adverse because it stars a twenty year old Olivia de Havilland and I want to see some more films with Fredric March. The film started out so well for like the first forty-five – fifty minutes and then just went down the drain and my attention was lost.
            It starts out with a man named Marquis Don Luis (Claude Rains) marrying a woman named Maria. Maria cheats on Don while his foot is healing with a man named Denis. Don finds out about the affair and takes his wife away. Denis finds them all at an inn but he dies in a sword fight with Don. A few months later at an inn in the Alps Maria has Denis’s baby but she unfortunately dies. The Don drops the baby off at a home for children where nuns will take care of him. Don tells Maria’s father, John Bonnyfeather, that his daughter died but lies that the baby died.
            Ten years later, Anthony (as the boy is named) is handed over to Bonnyfeather as an apprentice. Neither boy nor man know they are related but John sees a shocking resemblance to his daughter in the boy. He cannot give Anthony his last name since his illegitimacy would ruin his business and family name. As Anthony grows up he comes to love the cook’s daughter Angela (Olivia de Havilland). He wants to eventually marry her but one night her father wins the lottery and the family moves away. She tells Anthony that one day they will find each other.
            A few years on Anthony and a friend go to the opera and it happens that Angela is in the opera as one of the singers. They marry but the next day Anthony is held up while Angela is waiting to tell him what city to go to meet her. They do not meet again for five years.
            In those five years Anthony has traveled all over the place. He travelled to Africa to work off debts for Bonnyfeather and he became a whole other person one who was greedy and nasty to people. Of course he gets a change of heart and moves back to Europe. He finds Angela again, along with their son, in Paris but she has changed: she is well known as Mademoiselle Georges a mistress of Napoleon’s. Anthony can no longer be with Angela and she knows that so she tells him to take their son with him on business- and a new life- to America.
            Seriously, I just saved you two hours and fourteen minutes of your life by writing out most of the plot.
            When Anthony goes on to Havana and then to Africa the film just gets so slow. Also slowing down the film and being a nuisance is Claude Rains as Don Luis and his evil girlfriend and former helper to Bonnyfeather , Faith. Ugh when those two came on screen I wanted to scream!! Faith was an annoying character from the start and Claude Rains was too fruity and flamboyant for me here.
            Fredric March was very good I have no complaints about him or the character for that matter. Olivia de Havilland was beyond adorable. Right from the moment she comes on screen her character is very light splashing water on a bunch of little kids and she just had a big smile on her face. She was such a good actress even at twenty years old she just had immense talent.
            Milo Anderson, who would two years later design the costumes for The Adventures of Robin Hood, designed the costumes for this film. I loved all his costumes for the women they were gorgeous. I love the Empire style from art to furniture to fashion. Olivia de Havilland looked amazing in all her costumes looking stunning in the Empire waist dresses and hairstyle. Even the men’s costumes were excellent even though I am not a fan of men’s fashion from that time period. After seeing his costumes in Robin Hood in brilliant color I was wondering what colors he made the costumes for this film and how nice they would have looked. (As well as studying Art History and classic films I love fashion history it can teach you so much about so many things).

            Anthony Adverse is a pretty long dragged out film. The whole thing could have been cut down but I can see where cutting it would have disrupted the story and the flow. I guess in a way I watched it more for Olivia de Havilland and I was let down because her character was barely in it. I also felt let down with the ending after wanting Anthony and Angela to be together again after so many years apart and Angela turns out to be an infamous whore. If you want to see Anthony Adverse go ahead but I warn you you may become bored.