Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks #149: The Renaissance

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of "Thursday Movie Picks", the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This weeks theme is the Renaissance, and once again I've selected a bunch of older movies:

Prince of Foxes (1949). Tyrone Power plays Orsini, a low nobleman in the Borgias' court, Cesare being played by Orson Welles. Cesare has his eyes on another principality up in the mountains, and sends Orsini as his emissary in a complicated plot to take over the place. Of course, Orsini goes there and falls in love with the Count's daughter (Wanda Hendrix), as well as finding out that there are leaders who are nicer than the Borgias. Power is right at home here, and it's a shame that they weren't able to film in Technicolor, since it was done on location in Italy and San Marino.

Carnival in Flanders, aka La kermess heroïque (1935). Set in the early 17th century in Flanders, which at the time was part of the Spanish Netherlands. A troop of Spanish soldiers is coming through a town which is about to celebrate its annual carnival. The town fathers don't want to have to confront the beastly Spaniards, so they come up with a ruse that one of the town fathers has died and the rest of them are in mourning, which is why they can't wait hand and foot on the Spaniards. So it's up to the women to make the soldiers' night in this small town pleasant, and sparks fly as they use their feminine wiles to keep the peace. A delightful little comedy.

El Greco (1966). Biopic about the Greek-born painter (played by Mel Ferrer) who moves to Spain and spends his artistic life there. As is often the case, there was conflict between the painter's artistic desires and what his patrons (this was Spain, where the Catholic church was particularly strong) wanted. Unfortunately, the only time I saw this one on the old Fox Movie Channel years ago, they ran it in a panned-and-scanned print.


joel65913 said...

Nice out of the main choices!

Prince of Foxes is a lot of fun with Ty dashing as ever and Orson even better chewing every piece of scenery available.

I wasn't too sure about Carnival in Flanders when it began but ended up loving it by its conclusion. Witty and sly.

My biggest problem with El Greco was Mel Ferrer, but then he's usually my biggest problem in any film in which he appears. I just don't get his appeal and find him more or less a place holder in a film. Carrying a film was beyond his scope so the film was a disappointment.

One of mine is more well known than the others but all have profiles that could stand a little light.

The Advocate aka The Hour of the Pig (1993)-Richard Courtois (Colin Firth) a lawyer in 15th century France tired of the chicanery and lawlessness of Paris moves to the small rural town Abbeville along with his clerk Mathieu (Jim Carter) when he’s offered a job as a public defender. This being a period when animals were held accountable for crimes with the same punishments handed out to humans he soon finds himself defending a pig accused of murdering a Jewish boy. Pitted against a determined prosecutor (Donald Pleasance) and Catholic priest (Ian Holm), Richard defends the animal and becomes enamored of its owner, beautiful gypsy Samira (Amina Annabi). Along the way he finds out about the strange goings on behind the doors of the seemingly tame townspeople. The medieval justice system and local superstitions mingle as the case plays out. A strange and quirky film this is based on the journal of an actual barrister of the period.

Queen Margot (1994)-Dark and dire tale of the 16th century religious battle between the Catholics and the Huguenots for control of France. King Charles IX and his mother the dower queen Catherine de ’Medici (a simply sensational and scary Virna Lisi as a merciless woman whose soul has turned to dust) offer the Princess Margot (Isabelle Adjani-brilliant) to the Protestant King of Navarre in marriage as a political pawn. Trapped and unhappy Margot soon starts an affair with a soldier (Vincent Perez) as her mother orchestrates the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of thousands of Huguenots as well as murderous intrigues to place her other son on the Navarre throne. Blood splattered revenges and double crosses follow.

Quentin Durward (1955)-Plush version of Sir Walter Scott’s tale of a Scottish knight, the Quentin of the title (Robert Taylor) sent to France by his cash strapped uncle to propose to a wealthy and titled lady, the fair Isabelle (Kay Kendall) who is at the moment at the castle of King Louis XI (the amusing Robert Morley-owner of the stupidest looking crown in any movie ever). Once arrived there is intrigue aplenty with attacks and sword fights including one where the protagonists dangle from bell tower ropes inside a burning church. Entertaining derring-do was one of the few leads that the luminous Kay Kendall had before leukemia claimed her at 33.

Myerla said...

We have the same first pick. I said that same thing...I wish it was in Technicolour, the B&W cinematography did not make the most of the setting.

Wendell Ottley said...

Haven't seen any of these. To be honest, I don't think I will. Renaissance films tend to bore me. Glad you found three that work for you, though.

Brittani Burnham said...

I haven't seen any of your picks this week.

Birgit said...

I haven't seen any of these but so want to especially the second one. I know I will have a chance to see El Greco more than the other. 2 and want to see it despite Ferrer. When in doubt to see it on tv there is always YouTube...u fortunately.