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Amber St Clair means to get on in life and despite a poor background knows she has the assets to do it. Husbands, lovers, prison and a liaison with King Charles II form a tapestry of apparently calculating ups and downs, although in fact the one love of her life, Bruce Carlton, is never far from Amber's thoughts.Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Back in the days when the Roman Catholic censorship body, the Legion of Decency, had an unwarranted share of influence over the major Hollywood studios and their product, Darryl F. Zanuck, head of production at 20th-Century Fox, found himself embroiled in plenty of hot water with the L. of D. militia over his plans to film Kathleen Winsor's wildly popular succes du scandale "Forever Amber." We can be grateful he braved the fulminations of the clerics and their cohorts and lavished class "A" production values on this entertaining spectacle. Of course the more salacious aspects of Miss Winsor's story are toned down and softened, but there's a rather bitterly astringent tone to the proceedings, nevertheless.
The cast performs ably under the legendarily tyrranical Otto Preminger, whose direction of some sequences does seem a bit perfunctory. Linda Darnell is gorgeously gowned and lovingly photographed in three-strip Technicolor by Leon Shamroy, at his professional best. (I will agree that some scenes, especially at the beginning, seem a bit underlit, possibly due to an inferior VHS video transfer...I have never seen this on a big screen.) Miss Darnell holds her own against the likes of George Sanders, giving one of his wittiest performances as King Charles II, and her line readings, spoken in that delicious speaking voice of hers, ring true for the most part. The always reliable Richard Haydn, as the loathsome Earl of Radcliffe, convinces us that his grisly fate is well-deserved. And even the usually laconic Cornel Wilde convinces as a suitable object of Amber's steadfastly unrequited passion.
Best of all David Raksin's score achieves near-operatic grandeur, lending a sensual sweep that underscores one of Twentieth's really memorable costumers. Alfred Newman, head of Twentieth's music department, masterfully conducted Raksin's music, back in the days when the major studios employed full-time orchestras of musicians whose talents rivalled the players of the best symphony orchestras of the day and, perhaps, even now. Of course the video's audio track doesn't do the musical score the justice it deserves and it may be that in the late Forties when this was made, only the Warner Brothers studio sound technicians achieved full sonority on the optical tracks on which were recorded the scores of Korngold and Steiner and the other masters who worked at that rival studio.
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