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Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Royal Scandal (1945)

As her military leaders plot a coup to overthrow her throne, Catherine The Great (Tallulah Bankhead) of Russia dallies with a handsome young Lieutenant (William Eythe, SONG OF BERNADETTE). Ernst Lubtisch supervised the film and was all set to direct but when illness forced him to drop out, he was replaced by Otto Preminger. Which explains why this often witty, if forced, farce seems set to sparkle but never quite blossoms. It's still more a Lubitsch film than a Preminger film, Otto never had as light a touch and one can trace all the good things about the film to Lubitsch. One hesitates to imagine the film without Bankhead. She gets the most out of every line whether a subtle sexual innuendo or barking an insult, when she snaps "You swine!" she makes it sound witty rather than vulgar. Surprisingly, rather than dominating their scenes together, the young Eythe keeps up with her and proves a formidable partner. With Anne Baxter, Charles Coburn, Vincent Price (with a terrible French accent), Mischa Auer, Sig Ruman and Vladimir Sokoloff.

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