Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Private Life of Don Juan (1934)

A playful, tongue-in-cheek romantic farce -- about an aging Don Juan faking his own death in order to take a rest from his romantic conquests -- directed by Alexander Korda with a deceptively light but evocative style reminiscent of both Lubitsch and Sternberg (especially THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN). Douglas Fairbanks, in his final film role, stars as the title character, and plays the legendary lover with a decidedly vigorous approach. His Don Juan is a weary, wiser take on the character, which works quite nicely here, and suits Fairbanks at this late stage of his career. It's probably Fairbanks' finest sound film performance, coming across as more relaxed and at ease than in his other talkies. He certainly exhibits the old Fairbanks charm, even if he is a perhaps a bit more subdued than usual, and still gets the chance to show off some impressive physical feats, such as leaping over a staircase railing, with incredible grace. Overall, it's a fine and fitting swan song for the great silent screen swashbuckler.

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