Pssst, want to check out Scaramouche in our new look?
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You know, sometimes I think I like swashbucklers only in principle, as I'm often lukewarm on the results themselves. Then I watch 1952's Scaramouche and my faith is restored in the genre. What fun! Stewart Granger plays the title character, a French rogue who poses as an actor until he can get good enough with a rapier to take his revenge on his best friend's killer, caught between two women (Eleanor Parker and Janet Leigh), and hopelessly in over his head. This revenge story could have been grim, but no, it's played with such comic charm that Sabatini's original melodrama (and it's the kind of soap opera you only see in parodies) doesn't make you bat an eye. Well, maybe one eye, but not both. Touted as having one of the best sword fights in cinema history, its extended action climax is indeed delicious (I think it's a matter of Scaramouche almost never having the upper hand), but I also want to applaud the pantomime scenes which are just as expertly rendered. My only complaint is that the French names are often butchered and inconsistent, but that's a personal pet peeve, nothing you should worry about. I might have appreciated more of a coda, but a grand entertainment, witty and filled with surprises.
The interview with Mel Ferrer on the DVD explained something to me about why I've always preferred swashbucklers to shoot-'em-ups.
to see which of your friends have seen this movie!