Saturday, July 01, 2017

Movie review - "The Black Tulip" (1964) ***1/2 (warning: spoilers)

Alain Delon tries his hand at swashbuckling, in this adaptation of an Alexandre Dumas novel which I've never read but apparently this isn't very faithful. It would seem to owe more to The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Prisoner of Zenda with Delon playing twin brothers, one a dashing freedom fighter who runs around the countryside robbing the rich in the name of the poor, the other a more quieter, nebbish type who takes over his brother's position when the cool brother is injured.

There's a good twist in that the quiet brother discovers the groovy brother actually doesn't care about the poor, he robs for kicks - he's like the villain in The Wicked Lady. He finds love in the comely shape of peasant Virni Lisi whose father is a revolutionary.

The other great twist is the bad brother is captured and gets hung... and actually dies. This was like The Corsican Brothers. But it gives the piece some emotional kick. (Even if the movie shies away from going into the emotional turmoil the surviving brother must feel).

There's plenty of banter, action and pleasing production design, though I feel it would be prettier had it been shot in France rather than Spain. Delon is handsome and charismatic and gives two distinctive performances - it's some of his best work. The support characters are fine: some rich aristocrats and comic revolutionaries.

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