Pick Your Pop Culture

So, I've like written about music for 25 years, and like I've got a lot to say and not enough people to pay me for it, and like I like to write about TV, and books, and movies, and stuff like that.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

No Fandango In Scaramouche

Damn! They knew how to make movies in the 20s. I caught the 1923 version of “Scaramouche” yesterday, and was enthralled for about two hours. Oh, the plot is kinda silly, but the sheer energy of it all keeps things moving.

Here’s the story. Young man is in love with young woman. Young man’s friend gets killed defending the ideals of liberty in a duel with young woman’s “noble” suitor. Young man vows revenge, but can’t get satisfaction. Young man joins a traveling troupe of actors, develops a talent for scripting, directing, and acting. Young man tries to lead revolutionaries in an assault on “noble” suitor from the stage, but suitor and woman escape. French Revolution begins, young man plays leading role. Despite urgent need to kill the noble class, young man pleads to save his honey and another noble woman, who turns out to be young man’s mother. Bet you can’t guess who’s the father.

I love the way the ideals of the French Revolution get subsumed in this bizarre tale of love and family. Somehow, once everybody knows they’re related, all their troubles get swept away. I also love how the main character is capable of excelling at whatever he does, from acting to becoming, on short notice, a master swordsman.

The scenes of the Terror are pretty riveting, and the jump cuts to the ladies in peril do add a nice touch of tension. I know, it’s only a hair removed from watching a train bear down the tracks towards the place where the heroine is tied up while the hero races to her rescue, but it’s still pretty cool.

Oh, by the way, the play the hero writes is called “Figaro de Scaramouche” or something very similar to that, which helps to explain at least two words of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I did keep expecting somebody to try to do the fandango, but it never happened.


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