by Andre Dursin
New From Twilight Time
Romance is also at the heart of Twilight Time’s newest limited-edition Blu-Ray titles (exclusively available at Screen Archives) this month.
The Fox Cinemascope production DESIREE (***, 110 mins., 1954) offers Marlon Brando as Napoleon and Jean Simmons as Desiree Clary, a young woman who meets the future French emperor in 1794 and instantly becomes smitten with the young man. While Desiree’s sister marries Napoleon’s brother, Desiree herself loses contact with Napoleon and eventually heads to Paris where she learns that he’s engaged to Josephine – thereby setting the stage for a fluffy historical drama scripted by Daniel Taradash from a Annemarie Selinko novel. Desiree’s eventual marriage to one of Napoleon’s fellow generals (Michael Rennie), his appointment as a Swedish royal, and her eventual realization that Napoleon still loves her all play out as a fictional Hollywood romantic-drama set against real historical events of the era, all captured in the glory of Cinemascope by director Henry Koster.
From Alex North’s sweeping score to Milton Krasner’s effective use of the Cinemascope frame, “Desiree” is terrific Golden Age entertainment – not a classic film, but certainly an entertaining one with commendable performances from Brando (who made the picture for Fox after having abruptly departed from “The Egyptian”) and Simmons (who would reunite shortly with Brando in “Guys and Dolls”). It is amusing, though, to see Richard Deacon playing Simmons’ older brother!
The 1080p AVC encoded transfer culled from the Fox vaults is crisp and satisfying with no obvious use of DNR, and the print looks to be in generally satisfactory (if not pristine) condition as well. The DTS MA soundtrack offers an effective, 4-channel stereo mix with, as is customary from Twilight Time, the isolated score contained on a separate channel. The original trailer and Julie Kirgo’s booklet notes round out the package.