Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)
Pssst, want to check out Cyrano de Bergerac in our new look?
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1950's Cyrano de Bergerac was the first English-language adaptation of Rostand's famous play put to film, and José Ferrer won an Oscar for his performance in the title role, but I have several problems with it. First off, as a French-speaking person and a big fan of the original work, any translation will feel strange to me, especially if it doesn't try to rhyme. Rostand's does, to a fault, and I think it's part of the experience, creating a stylized world of warrior-poets. I don't just miss the rhyme, but many of the poetic images this version does away with. And once you leave some of the poetry behind, you're left with a script that's entirely too focused on plot mechanics. Director Michael Gordon insists on showing us linking material, explaining plot points, and extending the sword fights. But Cyrano doesn't need to be more plotty, that's not the point. The saving grace is Ferrer himself, a rather hard-nosed Cyrano (sorry), but that's the shield he's chosen to hide his vulnerability. The emotion still works even if the result is a little serious where it doesn't need to be (though the first theater scene does have some amusing staging). The play does shine through despite the deviations. But all in all, it just made me want to watch the 1990 film again, which I consider the high-water mark. And so I did...
Jose Ferrer IS Cyrano! He's perfect in this role, although I haven't seen a role that Ferrer didn't make his own. Wonderful actor!
Although it is difficult to get a good print of this film on DVD, Jose Ferrer makes a wonderful Cyrano and actually won an Oscar for Best Actor for the role. It makes a great double feature with "Roxanne"!
to see which of your friends have seen this movie!