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Film / Scaramouche (1952)

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

The book was previously adapted as a silent film in 1923.


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This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Lenore was called Climène in the novel and in the 1923 version.
    • In the novel, the Marquis bore the more flamboyant title of Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr.
  • Affably Evil: The Marquis De Maynes is a loyal servant of the Queen, a gentleman and caring protector and lover to his ward Aline. Unfortunately, he also happens to hate revolutionaries and has no qualms about provoking Phillipe de Valmorin into a duel...
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Upon joining the National Assembly, Andre Moreau is set upon by the aristocratic side of the assembly, to a series of duels. With each victory, the next day, he declares that his most recent opponent will be "Absent from the assembly", which proceeds to induce cheers from the commoner's half of the assembly.
  • Betty and Veronica: Aline and Lenore with Lenore as the Veronica and Aline as the Betty.
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  • Blue Blood: It's a movie set during the early stages of The French Revolution, so many characters are aristocrats. Even Andre and Philippe, who align themselves with the Revolution, are ultimately impoverished aristocrats.
  • Break the Haughty: As the final duel continues and De Maynes begins to lose his nerve.
  • 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.
  • Hobbes Was Right: Espoused by the Marquis De Maynes when he sees the revolutionary slogan Liberty, Equality, Fraternity:
    De Maynes: Liberty must be rationed among the few with the talent to use it. There's no such thing as equality. Most men are born with the gutter and are only at home there. As for fraternity, a De Maynes is nobody's brother. We stand alone at the head of the table, and if ever our rights are challenged, [taps sword] this is our answer.
  • Interesting Situation Duel: The climax has a sword fight in a theater, fought on the backs of the seats. They started by dueling along the rims of the balconies and finished on the stage.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Leonore leaves Andre so he can marry Aline, finally settling up with a certain Corsican officer.
  • Long-Lost Relative: It turns out the Marquis De Maynes is Andre's long-lost half-brother. Earlier, he was led to believe that Aline was his long-lost half-sister, but this turned out to not be so.
  • 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.
  • Royal Rapier: Moreau's weapon of choice.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Andre and Lenore's relationship.
  • Surprise Incest: Andre courts Aline early on, but backs away when he finds evidence that she's his sister. Subverted at the end when Lenore reveals that Aline and Andre are not related after all.
  • Swashbuckler: A classic example.
  • Sword Fight: As noted, the whole arc of the film is Andre becoming a master at this, culminating in that epic climax.
  • Throwing Down the Gauntlet:
    Andre: You may turn your back on Scaramouche, my Lord, but surely you would not run away from... [pulls off mask] ...Andre Moreau?
    De Maynes: Scaramouche... you have given your last performance. [draws sword]
  • 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.

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