Le Comte de Monte-Cristo (1955)
aka: The Count of Monte Cristo
A film directed by Robert Vernay

Genre: Adventure / Drama / Romance

Review published:


Le Comte de Monte-Cristo photo
In 1814, the merchant ship Le Pharaon returns to the port of Marseilles under the command of the young lieutenant Edmond Dantès. The latter is delighted to be reunited with his fiancée, Mercédès, but is unaware that a plot against him is being hatched by his rival, Fernand Mondego. Knowing that Le Pharaon stopped off at the Island of Elba, where the former Emperor Napoleon is being held captive, Mondego sees an opportunity to denounce Dantès as a traitor. To cover his own father's involvement in a Bonapartist plot against King Louis XVIII, the crown prosecutor Villefort has Dantès arrested and sent to the castle island of If, a prison from which no man  has ever escaped...
© filmsdefrance.com 2012

Film Review

Perhaps the most lavish screen adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' celebrated novel Le Comte de Monte-Cristo 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 is 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 version.

© James Travers 2010

The above article was written for filmsdefrance.com and should not be reproduced in any medium without the author's permission.

Other adventure/drama/romance films from France that are worth watching include: Richard Oswald's Cagliostro (1929), Jean-Paul Rappeneau's Cyrano de Bergerac (1990), René Clément's Le Jour et l'heure (1963), Jean Delannoy's Macao, l'enfer du jeu (1939) and Jean Epstein's Mauprat (1926).

Where to watch this film

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Film Credits

  • Director: Robert Vernay
  • Script: Daniel Ivernel, Alexandre Dumas père (novel), Georges Neveux, Robert Vernay
  • Photo: Robert Juillard
  • Music: Jean Wiener
  • Cast: Jean Marais (Edmond Dantès), Lia Amanda (Mercédès Herrera (1)), Daniel Ivernel (Gaspard Caderousse (1)), Folco Lulli (Jacopo (1) - (2)), Louis Seigner (Le bijoutier Joannès (1)), Claude Génia (La Carconte (1)), Jean Témerson (Le roi Louis XVIII (1)), France Asselin (Renée de Villefort (1)), Julien Bertheau (L'empereur Napoléon I), Lucien Blondeau (Dantès père (1)), André Brunot (L'armateur Morel (1)), Gualtiero Tumiati (L'abbé Faria (1)), Jacques Castelot (Gérard de Villefort), Noël Roquevert (Le colonel Noirtier de Villefort), Roger Pigaut (Fernand de Morcerf), Paolo Stoppa (Bertuccio (2)), Simone Paris (Émilienne de Beaugency (2)), Daniel Cauchy (Bruno), Jean-Pierre Mocky (Albert de Morcerf (2)), Marcel Journet (Le président de la chambre des Pairs (2)), Cristina Grado (Haydée (2)), Genica Athanasiou (Fatima (2)), Paul Azaïs (Un argousin), Paul Barge (Un policier), Charles Bayard (Un assesseur de la chambre des pairs (2))
  • Country: France / Italy
  • Language: French
  • Support: Color
  • Runtime: 183 min
  • Aka: The Count of Monte Cristo

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