Take 3: Cyrano de Bergerac (1950) Review

Two years ago, when I reviewed the 1990 adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, I was given a movie recommendation by Le from Crítica Retrô. That recommendation was Cyrano de Bergerac’s 1950 adaptation! Like any film suggestion I’m given, I wanted to make the time to watch and/or review this title. The opportunity finally came this month! March’s film for Genre Grandeur is Oscar Nominated /Winning Films. From what I’ve gathered, 1950’s Cyrano de Bergerac was nominated for and won an Oscar for Best Actor. Then I discovered The Bonnets and Bustles: Costume Blogathon. While thinking about what to write for the event, I realized Cyrano de Bergerac would be an eligible topic. Therefore, I’ve decided to review this movie for both blogathons!

Cyrano de Bergerac (1950) poster created by Stanley Kramer Productions and United Artists

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: I am not familiar with José Ferrer’s filmography. Despite this, the one word I would use to describe his performance in Cyrano de Bergerac is confident! The confidence within José’s portrayal helped him stand out against Gérard Depardieu’s portrayal in the 1990 adaptation. This confidence was also a consistent component that made Cyrano a force to be reckoned with! Toward the beginning of the film, Cyrano engages in a duel at the local theater. Throughout this scene, the protagonist speaks eloquently and with sophistication. He holds his own in the duel, with his posture and skills showing the audience that he knows what he’s doing. But this aforementioned confidence never comes across as cocky. Instead, Cyrano is presented as being sure of himself, despite his flaws and imperfections.

Christian de Neuvillette is portrayed by William Prince. What makes his portrayal stand out from Vincent Perez’s performance is how Christian came across as a hopeless romantic. This can be seen when he visits Roxane one evening. During their conversation, Christian becomes tongue-tied. He struggles to find the right words without Cyrano’s help. But the passion he feels for Roxane is displayed on his face. William’s body language also proved how much his character wanted to be with Roxane. Speaking of Roxane, let’s talk about Mala Powers’ performance. In this adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, Roxane was mesmerized by the romantic words of Cyrano and passionate gestures of Christian. The balcony scene is a perfect example. As Christian quotes Cyrano’s poetry, Roxane is overcome by her feelings. Her voice contains emotion, expressing through words what is in her heart. Roxane’s body language longs for a romantic embrace, as she searches in the night for the one she loves. Mala’s performance is one of the reasons why that scene packed such a punch!

The sword fights: In this adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, there were some exciting sword fights! Part of that excitement comes from the quality of the choreography! As I said earlier in this review, I talked about Cyrano’s involvement in a duel at a theater. While that fight was captivating to watch, that wasn’t the only fight to feature good choreography. One evening, Cyrano guards a local baker on his way home. Along the way, they become surrounded by the baker’s enemies. Throughout this scene, the fight choreography is sharp, fast-paced, and precise. These elements allow the fights to appear professional, like the actors involved are taking this part of their performance seriously. What also made these fights exciting was the different camera angles used to capture the shots. The various angles let the audience witness the fights from different perspectives.

Cyrano and Roxane’s interactions: Because Cyrano and Roxane have known each other prior to the events of the film, they have a pre-existing friendship. The on-screen camaraderie between José Ferrer and Mala Powers made my experience watching Cyrano and Roxane’s interactions enjoyable! During these interactions, Roxane and Cyrano share a genuine tenderness that comes across as sweet and good-natured. At the bakery one day, Cyrano learns Roxane has developed feelings for Christian. Even though he is not pleased to learn this news, Cyrano seems to place Roxane’s happiness before his own. Later in the film, when Roxane is sharing Christian’s “poetry” with Cyrano, Cyrano adopts a protectiveness toward Roxane. Meanwhile, Roxane doesn’t miss a beat. She recites Cyrano’s words in a heart-felt way, her vocal inflections indicating how much she enjoys the words. Interactions like this one make me wish Roxane appeared more in the film.

Bustles and Bonnets: Costume Blogathon banner created by Pale Writer from Pale Writer and Paul from Silver Screen Classics

What I didn’t like about the film:

An orange tint: Throughout the film, the picture was coated in an orange tint. Though this tint was not consistently present, it was somewhat distracting. The colors of the costumes and set design appeared faded because of this tint. However, I’m not sure if the tint was caused by the use of lighting or the cinematic technology of the ‘50s.

Few interactions with Christian and Roxane: A major plot-point in Cyrano de Bergerac is the growing relationship between Roxane and Christian de Neuvillette. What makes this plot-point so memorable is how Roxane is smitten by Christian’s words, which were composed by Cyrano. In this adaptation of the story, Christian and Roxane don’t spend much time together. Looking back on the film, I can think of only three scenes featuring their interactions. Because of Roxane and Christian’s limited time together, Mala and William’s on-screen chemistry wasn’t as strong as it could have been.

No build-up to the war storyline: When I reviewed the 1990 adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, I wrote about the war storyline that dominated the movie’s second half. In my review, I said this storyline pulled a “bait and switch” with the film’s overall tone. I also said the build-up toward the war and the reasoning behind it felt too “inside baseball”. While there is a war in the 1950 adaptation, there is no build-up or reason for this event. It feels like the war was placed in the middle of the movie for the sake of providing more action in the story. I still have not read this story’s source material, so I don’t know the historical context of this text. However, some build-up and/or a reason for the war would have been appreciated in the 1950 adaptation.

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My overall impression:

A singular adaptation of any story is not the “end all, be all”. Part of that is due to film itself being so subjective. Cyrano de Bergerac from 1950 is the second adaptation of this narrative I’ve seen. But I ended up liking it about as much as the 1990 version. 1950’s Cyrano de Bergerac follows similar beats to 1990’s adaptation. But the movie itself is distinct enough to stand out on its own. The differences in the 1950 version added enjoyment to the overall project, such as the sword fights. But, like the 1990 film, the 1950 project had its flaws. I will say Cyrano de Bergerac from 1950 is the more accessible movie of the two. But no matter which version you choose, the romance, wit, and ways with words are still the same.

Overall score: 7.5 out of 10

Have you seen any adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac? If so, which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Bringing Back the Gold Sally Awards’ Best Supporting Actor Division!

As I promised, I am hosting a re-vote for the Gold Sally Awards’ Best Supporting Actor Division. I also plan to wrap up the Awards voting, as there are three polls lefts. But don’t worry, Sally’s Star of the Year will still be included. This round of voting will start today, June 30th, and end on July 7th. Like before, you can vote for more than one nominee. But you can only vote once per person. The link to the poll is featured under the list of nominees.


Who was the Best Supporting Actor of 2020?

 

Gene Kelly — Anchors Aweigh
Fred Savage — The Boy Who Could Fly
Omri Katz — Matinee
Noah Valencia — Sweet Nothing in My Ear
Andrew Tarbet — If You Believe
Jamie Bell — Nicholas Nickleby (2002)
Brock Peters — To Kill a Mockingbird
Vincent Perez — Cyrano de Bergerac (1990)
Joe Penny — Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star
Steve Bacic — Mystery 101: An Education in Murder
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Have fun voting!

Sally Silverscreen

The Gold Sally Awards is Back with the Best Supporting Actor Division

Despite being busy with some blog and non-blog related projects, I am still continuing to host the Gold Sally Awards! For this round of voting, you get to choose who will receive the title of Best Supporting Actor. Like the previous polls, you can vote for more than one nominee. But you can only vote once per person. This poll will be active until June 7th and the link to the poll is under the list of nominees.

Movie award essentials image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background psd created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com. 

 

Who was the Best Supporting Actor of 2020?
Gene Kelly — Anchors Aweigh
Fred Savage — The Boy Who Could Fly
Omri Katz — Matinee
Noah Valencia — Sweet Nothing in My Ear
Andrew Tarbet — If You Believe
Jamie Bell — Nicholas Nickleby (2002)
Brock Peters — To Kill a Mockingbird
Vincent Perez — Cyrano de Bergerac (1990)
Joe Penny — Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star
Steve Bacic — Mystery 101: An Education in Murder
 
Created with PollMaker

Have fun voting!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Cyrano de Bergerac (1990) Review

When I published my Hallmark Hall of Fame Reading Challenge last March, one of the literary works I listed was Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. While I’ve never read the play, I was interested in seeing how Hallmark Hall of Fame would adapt this particular story. Sadly, I couldn’t find this specific version on DVD, VHS, or digital, as a lot of the collection’s movies from the ‘50s to about the early ‘80s appear to be lost. When I discovered Vincent Perez starred in the 1990 adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, I thought seeing this version would be the next best thing. It was also a perfect choice for The Third Broadway Bound Blogathon, as it was listed under the “Movies Made From Broadway Shows” section in the very first announcement for the event. This blogathon also happens to take place days before Vincent’s birthday, so this became another reason to review Cyrano de Bergerac! I was able to obtain a copy of this film, but I had to purchase two DVDs and a Blu-Ray just to find one that worked with my home entertainment system. Read my review to find out if this film was worth the search!

After weeks of searching, I finally found a DVD copy of Cyrano de Bergerac I could watch! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscren.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Since I chose this film because of Vincent’s involvement, I’ll talk about his performance first. One aspect that stood out to me was how his voice was always soft-spoken. This fit his character, Christian de Neuvillette, well because he wasn’t as confident with his words, like Cyrano. I also noticed how sincere Vincent’s performance came across. No matter what situation Christian is in, he always has his heart in the right place. The goodness of this character showed through in Vincent’s portrayal, which helped Christian be as likable as possible! Since I just mentioned Cyrano, I will now talk about Gérard Depardieu’s performance. The word I’d use to describe his portrayal of the titular character is expressive. Every feeling Cyrano was experiencing felt genuine, emotions appearing in his facial expressions, body language, and poetry. Toward the beginning of the film, Cyrano performs at a local theater and participates in a dual shortly after. Gérard was able to adapt to every situation given to his character. Besides Vincent and Gérard, the cast is filled with talented actors and actresses. Anne Brochet is one of those cast members, bringing a gentle nature to her character, Roxane. Through emotionality, Anne brings her character to life in a way that feels believable. One example is when Christian and Cyrano visit her at her balcony.

The historical accuracy: As I’ve said before on this blog, the quality of a film’s historical accuracy can show how much a creative team cares about their project. The historical accuracy of Cyrano de Bergerac is proof of this statement! The world in this movie felt immersive, presenting the locations with a sense of realism. The set designs reflected the financial situation/social status of the characters, with the local bakery and Roxane’s room being perfect examples. While the bakery featured a simpler interior design, Roxane’s room appeared elegant. Costumes looked appropriate for that specific time period, with the color palette for the cast’s wardrobe ranging from lighter shades of beige and blue to darker tones of gray and black. Tools and utensils from yesteryear were used by the characters, such as Cyrano and Christian applying a wax seal on letters to Roxane. This movie shows that no detail was ignored.

The humor: One of the strongest elements of this film was the humor! Not only was it well-written, but the humor itself seemed to fit that world. The funny moments within Cyrano de Bergerac were also given good executions by the actors. My favorite scene is when Christian continuously interrupts Cyrano’s story by making references to Cyrano’s nose. During this exchange, Christian would sometimes only say “nose” to get a reaction from Cyrano. While Christian appears unfazed by Cyrano’s reactions, Cyrano becomes more irritated as the scene continues. This scene made me repeatedly laugh, as I found it hilarious!

The Third Broadway Bound Blogathon banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room. Image found at https://takinguproom.wordpress.com/2020/03/20/announcing-the-third-broadway-bound-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The under-utilization of Vincent Perez: Vincent Perez is one of the reasons why I sought out the 1990 adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, as I’ve enjoyed his acting performances so far. Before watching this movie, I knew his involvement in the project was a break-out role and likely the biggest role he received at that time. However, because Vincent is billed as the main supporting actor, I was disappointed to find out he was in the film for a limited amount of time. The majority of the story revolves around Cyrano, which means that Vincent was only given a reduced amount of material to work with. There were even large intervals when Vincent was not featured on screen. Usually, main supporting actors receive about half the screen-time the film’s protagonist does. In the case of Cyrano de Bergerac, however, the antagonist, Comte Antoine de Guiche, is given more prominence in the production than Vincent’s character.

The war storyline: Prior to seeing Cyrano de Bergerac, I had a general knowledge of what the story was about. The movie is even classified as a “comedy-drama”, with the assumption that the romantic aspects of the story would fall under the “drama” part. While the comedy and romance within Cyrano de Bergerac dominated the first half of the film, a storyline involving a war took over the film’s second half. The build-up toward the event and the reasoning behind it felt too “inside baseball”. It also caused the entire story to pull a “bait and switch” with its overall tone. Based on the knowledge I had about this film and even based on the DVD cover, I expected the light-hearted tone within the first half to have a consistent presence throughout the film. Even though there were romantic and light-hearted moments within the second half, some of them didn’t feel like they fit in the context of the war.

The poetic monologues: I’m aware that Cyrano is known for being “a man of many words”. I also know the original play was written only in verse. The poems themselves weren’t the issue, as the poetic monologues within this film were performed and written well. However, some of them lasted too long. Toward the end of the movie, Cyrano recited one of his signature monologues. Because it was long in time length, the monologue made the scene drawn out. I realize that the reason for the long monologues was to satisfy the film’s run-time. Personally, I think, at least, a few of the them should have been a bit shorter in length.

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My overall impression:

I’ve heard that the 1990 adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac is “the definitive film version of the Edmond Rostand play from 1897.” This is the only film version of the story I have seen. As I also said in the introduction, I have never read the play. So, I can only judge this film simply as a film. Cyrano de Bergerac is a good, solid movie! I found myself invested as the story was unfolding and I can definitely see how this could be presented on Broadway. The poetic dialogue was an interesting choice that helped this project achieve a unique identity. However, there were aspects that prevented the production from being better than it was. Some of the poetic monologues were too long, causing scenes to feel drawn out. Despite flaws like that one, I’m glad I was given an opportunity to see this film! If you do choose to watch this version of Cyrano de Bergerac, keep in mind it is a rarer title to find on physical media. While this movie did receive a Blu-Ray release, prices can get expensive.

Overall score: 7.6 out of 10

Do you enjoy movies based on Broadway shows? Are there any literary adaptations that you like? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun on Broadway!

Sally Silverscreen