Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Overlooked Movies -- The Count of Monte Cristo (1934)

I've read The Count of Monte Cristo, and I've seen a couple of movie versions.  I've also seen several of the spinoffs, but I'd never seen this 1934 version starring Robert Donat as Edmund Dantes.  I'm glad I got the chance because it's very good, even if it's not as swashbuckling as I'd expected (only one sword fight).

The story is familiar to just about everybody, I suppose.  Edmund Dantes is imprisoned unjustly for delivering a letter that he hasn't even read.  The letter is judged as treasonous, but the real reason Dantes is tossed into the Chateau d'If is that the city magistrate, Raymond de Villefort, Jr. (Louis Calhern) is in love with Dantes' intended bride.  Two others conspire with de Villefort for reasons of their own, and Dantes is not just imprisoned but declared dead, never to see daylight again.  

After a number of years in prison, Dantes makes contact with the prisoner in the next cell, the Abbé Faria (O. P. Heggie).  They remove a stone in the wall, meet in person, and become friends.  Faria educates Dantes, and after many more years is injured in the cave-in of a tunnel they're working on.  He dies and becomes the means of Dantes' escape.  After the escape, Dantes finds Faria's fortune, becomes the Count of Monte Cristo and exacts his revenge on the three who betrayed him.  

The movie takes some liberties with the novel, but that's to be expected.  It does a great job with the revenge story, and Donat is dandy in the role of Dantes, who almost forgets his humanity but then recovers it.  The rest of the cast is fine, too, and the movie comes to a satisfactory conclusion (not the one in the novel).  Great stuff.  See it if you get a chance.

6 comments:

Dan said...

I read the book in 5th grade and was captivated.

Deb said...

Have you read Alfred Bester's THE STARS MY DESTINATION? It's a SciFi rendition of TCOMC.

George said...

THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO is one of my favorite novels. I'll track down a copy of this movie version. You make it sound very good!

Bill Crider said...

Deb, I've read that one three times since first encountering it 60 years ago or so. A favorite of mine, for sure.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I've loved the book ever since I took it out of the library on a "summer read" in my early teens. I've seen the movie version but it was probably 40-50 years ago.

Great stuff.

FreeLiveFree said...

I read the large around a thousand page non-abridged version of Count and it was still a page turner.