Wherein Summer Intern Alexandra Greenway discusses this week’s Silent Sunday Nights pick: SCARAMOUCHE (’23)
Hello again! It’s me – your resident silent film loving intern with a new blog about this week’s film, Rex Ingram’s SCARAMOUCHE (’23). A tale of love, lust, revenge, and swarthy politicking, SCARAMOUCHE is fun for the whole family! Wikipedia describes it as a “silent costume adventure” – who wouldn’t want a piece of that? Okay, but seriously, the plot is dynamic but seems a little seasoned to our fresh, millennial eyes. The movie was also remade in 1952 by MGM in Technicolor, with a glistening Janet Leigh as our heroine, Aline. It seems the original was a bit stale for mid-century audiences as well.
But, as per usual, I’m here to put all your hesitations about silent films to rest. The thing is, yes, silent films tend to be slower, a bit over-acted, and maybe – dare I say it – boring. Buuuuuuuuut when you sit down and pay them the respect they deserve, you stumble upon some real gems. SCARAMOUCHE is one such gem. My favorite thing about this movie is the gorgeous cinematography used to paint the class struggles in pre-revolution France. The close-ups and attention to detail serve so much characterization, and highlight the masses of French countrymen …
… versus the elite, and oppressive, and generally d-baggy nobility.
The film follows Andre-Louis Moreau, played by the iconic Ramon Novarro, one of Hollywood’s first ‘latin lovers’.
Andre is an orphan who associates with the nobility, but due to his fatherless status is relegated to plain society. Returning to his neighborhood after spending the past few years studying law in Paris, he lands in an argument between his best friend and newly minted preist, Philippe de Vilmorin and resident a-hole and nobleman The Marquis de la Tour d’Azyr. (Don’t worry – I can’t pronounce any of this stuff either). After slapping him in the face…
Philippe is challenged to a duel by The Marquis. Philippe is promptly killed, The Marquis claiming that his word was too emboldened and empowering to have lived – in other words, he’s dangerous. Welp, that sure irks Andre…
… setting off our entire film. I won’t spoil the whole thing for you – I’ll just let you know that if you like a bit of intrigue:
Or beautiful, beautiful cinematography:
Then THIS is the film for you! SCARAMOUCHE airs this Sunday at midnight on TCM, your channel for all things movie! And just a note – the version on YouTube cuts off right before the big finale (don’t worry – I did the due diligence), so if you wanna see it, TCM is your one-stop shop!