Forever Amber C
“Forever Amber,” one of Otto Preminger’s weakest films artistically, is also one of his most commercially popular
Despite doubts and fears of the Production Code strictures, Kathleen Winsor’s notorious best-selling nove of the same title made it to the screen in 1947 with full censorial approval, albeit a bit toned down as far as the erotic sequences are concerned.
Prmeinger made a shrewed decision to replace the British actress Peggy Cummins with the more beautiful and sensual Linda Darnell, in the the role of 17th century Amber St. Clair, a girl who rebels against Puritan upbringing. Feeling represed and suppressed by her social upbringing, Amber heads to London, finding considerable success as a courtesan.
The ensuing saga unfold as a chronicle of various love affairs. The first real love of her life is dashing soldier Bruce Carlton (Cornell Wilde), who leaves her pregnant and penniless when he goes to war.
Subsequent amours include the sadistic Earl of Radcliffe (Richard Haydn), handsome highwayman Black Jack Mallard (John Russell), and privateer Captain Rex Morgan (Glenn Langan).
Surviving the Plague and the Great London Fire, Amber ends up in the arms of King Charles II (smartly portrayed by George Sanders), but true love, as personified by Bruce Carlton, eludes her.
The studio, 20th Century-Fox, added to “Forever Amber,“ a prologue, heard over the opening credits, stating that the film doesn’t endorse or approve of its heroine’s conduct, and that she would be amply punished for her sins before the end of the sage. (This embarrasing prologue has been removed from current prints).
Restraint by today’s standards, “Forever Amber” proved titillating to 1947 audiences, generating huge profits, considering its pricy budget of $4 million.
Preminger’s version is a conventionalHollywoodcostume period piece, a Bowdlerized chronicle of the adventures of desirable young lady during the reign of Charles II.
Though flawed, there are some lively action sequences of warfare, and even a great fire. The production and costume designs are lavish, but Preminger’s direction is too objective and detached to generate any emotional feelings.
The musical score by David Raksin was nominated for an Oscar, but did not win.
Overall, the production lacks the earthiness and eroticism that made the book such an enormous success
Oscar Nominations: 1
Scoring: David Raksin
Oscar Awards: None
The winner of the Best Scoring Oscar was Miklos Rozsa for “A Double Life.”
Running time: 140 Minutes.
Directed by Otto Preminger.
Screenplay by Jerome Cady, Philip Dunne, Ring Lardner, Jerry Cady.
Released: October 22, 1947 Wide
DVD: Oct 5, 1994
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