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 20th Century Fox’s 
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… an excellent 
soundtrack and film specialty site **
Twilight Time / 1954 / 110 mins / NR

No comments:

Post a Comment