Nico Narrates Audiobooks
Saturday, December 22, 2012
REVIEW: Desiree (Blu-ray)
Posted on: 12:06 pm, April 11, 2012, by
Looking at the early roles of Marlon Brando, one is immediately struck by the stable of
colorful and larger than life characters the actor launched his film career with. Bursting
on to the silver screen as Stanley Kowalski recreating his acclaimed stage performance
from A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, he followed that with a Mexican revolutionary
(in VIVA ZAPATA!), a Shakespearean villain (in JULIUS CAESAR), an iconic biker rebel
(in THE WILD ONE) and a tormented everyman in his Academy Award winning turn in ON
THE WATERFRONT. Being one of the hottest stars in Hollywood, Brando had his choice
of roles. While he was initially lined up to play the lead in Michael Curtiz’s THE EGYPTIAN,
he pulled out of that project in favor of another lavish Cinemascope production where could
play one of the most iconic figures in history, Napoleon Bonaparte, in the adaptation of the
popular novel, DESIREE.
The title character is Desiree Clary (played by Jean Simmons), the beautiful and determined
daughter of a wealthy silk merchant who is actively searching for appropriate husbands for
herself and her sister. She meets and invites a dashing Corsican, Joseph (Cameron Mitchell),
home to meet her sister and he brings his brother, Napoleon, with him. The poor but
ambitious brothers are immediately smitten with the sisters (and their dowry) and the
politically navigated romance between Desiree and Napoleon is launched. The couple
clearly states their love for each other but the general’s career ambition overrides his
emotional wants. Desiree and Napoleon each go their separate (and opposing) ways
with other spouses and the film chronicles the incidents where they come into contact
with each other from Napoleons rise through his surrender and exile.
DESIREE is certainly an opulent and lavish production, as all of 20
Cinemascope films of the era were. It even received Academy Award nominations for
its production design and costumes. Simmons and Brando deliver great performances
and have good chemistry, each exuding lustful ambition in their own way, however the
film feels oddly passionless when it comes to the actual romance between Desiree and
Napoleon. The couple elicit great electricity when they clash but the undercurrent of
emotional lust never really sticks, certainly throughout the second half of the movie.
Napoleons marriage proposal in the beginning is a grand gesture and Desiree definitely
delivers on the emotional front, but the longing the two characters feel for each other, or
are supposed to feel for each other, never really translates to the audience.
DESIREE is a good solid drama filled with excellent performances (Michael Rennie
and Merle Oberon stick out particularly as Desiree’s future husband Jean-Baptiste
Bernadotte and the Empress Josephine Bonaparte respectively), but just falls short of
the fire needed to make it the great tragic romance it should be.
Once again Twilight Time delivers an absolutely beautiful transfer. The anamorphic
2.55 picture is very crisp showing excellent detail and texture. Color is generally very
warm and pleasing and very well saturated. Detail is sharp showing off great texture
in the film’s beautiful costumes. Some very minor source print damage is evident
(specks and some very slight color variance) but minor is the key word there as this
is an overall superb looking picture.
The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 mix delivers a very nice immersive atmosphere.
Ambient sounds are well placed opening up the sound field while dialogue and Alex
North’s epic score come through crystal clear. Chalk up another winner for Twilight Time!
Alex North’s wonderful score sounds great in the film and is available on an isolated
lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track.
The original theatrical trailer rounds out the goodies.
A solid cast and lavish production design make DESIREE worth checking out even if
the epic story falls a little short on the emotional level.
** DESIREE is available exclusively via www.screenarchives.com… an excellent
soundtrack and film specialty site **
Twilight Time / 1954 / 110 mins / NR
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