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Film / Scaramouche

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"But who is Scaramouche? And why does he hide his face behind a mask?"

Scaramouche is the 1952 film adaptation of the novel by Rafael Sabatini, directed by George Sidney.

Stewart Granger plays the hero, Andre Moreau, with Mel Ferrer opposite him as the villainous Marquis de Maynes. The female leads are Eleanor Parker (as Lenore) and Janet Leigh (as Aline de Gavrillac). Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer went all-out on the sets and costumes and the climactic duel is the longest single-take Sword Fight in cinematic history.


This film provides examples of:

  • Break the Haughty: As the final duel continues and De Maynes begins to lose his nerve.
  • Commedia dell'Arte: In-universe, Andre hides out with the Commedia troupe in which Lenore is a member, where he discovers his hidden talent for slapstick, and begins to learn how to handle a sword.
  • Costume Porn: Oh yes.
  • Curbstomp Battle: De Maynes duel with dw Valmorin and his early encounters with Andre.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Andre and Lenore.
  • Don't Think, Feel: Inverted.
    Perigore: The head! Fight with the head. Forget the heart.
  • Flynning: Honestly a little bit less than you'd expect, with the ten-minute climactic fight scene, but it's definitely there.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Lenore's weapon of choice, both on stage and off.
  • Genius Bruiser: Both De Maynes and Andre are Master Swordsman who play other characters like a violin when they need to.
  • Glove Slap: When the National Assembly's noble delegates are reducing the numbers of the common delegates by challenging them to duels and killing them, Moreau is challenged several times by persistent nobles who want to improve his horrendously ugly face by slapping him with a glove.
  • Guile Hero: Andre, at times, especially after he joins the troupe.
  • Master Swordsman: De Maynes, his master Doutreval, and his master Perigore of Paris. And eventually, Andre himself.
  • Not So Different: Both Andre and De Maynes are clever, passionate, somewhat flippant charmers who are extremely loyal to their friends and family. Over the course of the film, Andre becomes more and more like De Maynes, becoming a master swordsman who repeatedly incapacitates political enemies in duels and has complicated relationships with two different women. This foreshadows The Reveal that they're brothers.
  • The Oner: The final duel. As it took place in a pre-Revolutionary France theatre, complete with over 600 extras in full costume, they had to get it done in one take. As it was so long the lead actors couldn't be trusted to do it, so the fight director and his assistant did it all in long-shot. After beginning the fight on the edge of the boxes, it moved to the corridor outside, then to the balconied foyer, where a single camera picks up the shot and follows them down the stairs, across the foyer, and back into the auditorium, roughly a third of the fight. The whole fight took over seven minutes, included two near-fatal accidents, and needed nine cameras to film, to cover the boxes, the corridor, the foyer, the auditorium, onstage, and backstage, none of which could be in shot for any other camera. After it was done, the leads did some close-ups of a few short sequences during the fight, and these close-ups cover the cuts between each camera.
  • Punchclock Villain: Chevallier de Chabrillaine, De Maynes dragon is actually quite personable and admirer of the theatre.
  • Remake Cameo: Lewis Stone played the villain in the silent adaptation, while here he plays Andre's foster father.
  • The Rival: Andre makes the transition all the way from Unknown Rival to this after training under De Maynes' teachers and joining the rival party of the National Assembly.
  • The Trickster: Andre isn't but the character he plays, Scaramouche, is.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Andre, at first. Though he is actually a nobleman's bastard.
  • Villain Opening Scene: The Marquis has the first ten minutes of screen time, and unlike most examples of this trope, commits not a single evil deed, so much so that he could almost be seen as the Decoy Protagonist.