Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lloyd's of London

I don't mention Tyrone Power all that often, largely because he made the mojority of his pictures at Fox, and the Fox Movie Channel aren't very good about using their library in any coherent way. That having been said, one of Power's earliest movies, Lloyd's of London, shows up tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM ET.

The title of course refers to the famous insurance company, and the movie tells a fictitious story about the behind-the-scenes machinations at the company and how it all affected British history, with a love triangle to boot. Tyrone Power plays Jonathan Blake, although we first see Blake when he's a kid (played by Freddie Bartholomew). Blake has a friend who is conveniently Horatio Nelson. They learn of an insurance fraud plot, but only Blake is able to get to London to warn the underwriters. Once in London, Blake becomes an apprentice at Lloyds, eventually growing up to become Power in more ways than one: not only is it Tyrone Power, but Blake has quite a bit of economic power within the organization.

Opposed to Blake is Lord Stacy, played by a young George Sanders. Stacy's wife is played by Madeline Carroll, and boy does Blake have a thing for her. Fast forward to the first decade of the 19th century. Napoleon is ruling France, and his designs on empire are putting a hurt on British shipping, with the result that the underwriters who own Lloyd's are suffering huge financial losses. Blake wants to continue underwriting the shippers, but Stacy and the other underwriters are opposed to this, and plot to destroy Blake. Of course, we know that Blake's old friend Horatio Nelson is going to win the Battle of Trafalgar eventually, and this is going to solve all of Blake's problems, which is one of the problems with setting films against the backdrop of real events. But that's a minor problem.

Lloyd's of London is a fun costume drama that doesn't really do anything to distinguish itself, but also doesn't do anything to diminish itself, either. Note that this doesn't mean the picture is just average; it's really quite good, but misses greatness by being very much by-the-book. All the actors put in good performances, especially George Sanders as the bad guy, but he was always good at playing bad guys.

Lloyd's of London seems never to have been released to DVD, so you're going to have to catch the Fox Movie Channel showings.

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