Frenchman's Creek

1944, Movie, NR, 112 mins

Review

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This lavish romance epic set in the 17th century has gentle British noblewoman Fontaine fleeing her spineless husband, Forbes, and his lecherous, dangerous friend, Rathbone, who lusts after her. She finds French pirate de Cordova's ship anchored in a creek near her country estate and falls in love with the swashbuckler. In a fit of caprice, Fontaine accompanies de Cordova in a raid against the estate of pompous landowner Bruce. When she hears that her husband and Rathbone are en route to capture the dashing adventurer, Fontaine sends her favorite servant, Kellaway, to warn him. She then entertains the pursuers at dinner, only to be interrupted by de Cordova who captures the palatial estate. He locks up Forbes and Rathbone, then pleads with Fontaine to run away with him. She tells him she must remain for the sake of her young children, and he leaves. Rathbone, who later tells Fontaine he has overheard her conversation with the pirate, first tries to blackmail the lady. When she sneers at his threat he attempts to rape her, but Fontaine flees up a staircase, Rathbone in hot pursuit. Fontaine pulls down a heavy suit of armor which kills her tormentor. Next she hears that de Cordova has been taken prisoner. She helps him escape but refuses to sail with him, nobly pledging her life to her children. The production is stunning in lush color, superb art direction by Dreier and Fegte and astounding sets by Comer, who won an Oscar. Most memorable is Young's unforgettable score, at the center of which is Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune." It's a wonderful tearjerker, and Rathbone excels as the menace. leave a comment

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