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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Diane (1956)

In 16th century France, a noblewoman (Lana Turner) rises to power through her political associations. First, a marriage to a Count (Torin Thatcher), then as confidante to King Francis I (Pedro Armendariz) and later as mistress to his son King Henry II (Roger Moore). But when Henry makes a political marriage to Catherine de Medici (Marisa Pavan, THE ROSE TATTOO) of Italy, the Countess may have met her match. Loosely based on the life of Diane de Poitiers, the film is a typically glossy Hollywoodized view of French history and one is apt to find oneself looking at the art direction or costumes rather than paying strict attention to the narrative. It's hard to believe the screenplay is by Christopher Isherwood (BERLIN STORIES). The dialog is florid and affected and Turner and Moore aren't strong enough actors in the best of circumstances to overcome the ornate lines they're given to say. The acting honors go to Marisa Pavan, who goes from naive young bride to a steel fisted Queen. Her final confrontation with Turner is the highlight of the film. There's a terrific score by Miklos Rozsa, one of his best. Directed by David Miller (LONELY ARE THE BRAVE). With Cedric Hardwicke, Taina Elg, Henry Daniell, Michael Ansara, Sean McClory and Melville Cooper.

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