Perhaps the most lavish screen adaptation of Alexandre Dumas'
celebrated novel Le Comte de
is this three hour long epic directed by Robert
Vernay and starring the iconic French screen actor Jean Marais.
Vernay had already adapted Dumas' novel in 1943, with Pierre
Richard-Willm (then a prominent star in French cinema) in the lead
role. With its atmospheric lighting and more clearly
delineated characters, the 1943 version
easily superior to its 1955 remake, although the latter clearly looks
as if more money was spent on it.
Here Jean Marais heads a generally lacklustre cast and gives a
lacklustre performance to match. Vernay's direction lacks the
inspired touch that he showed on his previous Monte-Cristo
and, in some places,
appears downright complacent. This time round, Vernay and his
screenwriters are more faithful to Dumas' novel, although their
attempts to explore the central theme of the novel - the morality of
delayed revenge - are only partially successful. The film's long
run time makes it an ordeal to sit through, in spite of its slick
production values and gripping storyline. Both of Vernay's
adaptations of Dumas' novel are respectable pieces of cinema in their
own right, but both pale into insignificance when compared with Henri
Fescourt's stunning 1929
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returns to the port of Marseilles under the command of the young
lieutenant Edmond Dantès...