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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Bridge Of San Luis Rey (1944)

Set in Peru in 1774, five people are crossing a ravine on an old foot bridge near the chapel of San Luis Rey that collapses, killing all five people. A monk (Donald Woods) is deeply disturbed by the incident and investigates the lives of the victims to make some sense of why these five people. Based on the 1927 Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Thornton Wilder and directed by Rowland V. Lee. The film is a very loose adaptation of Wilder's novel with significant changes from the book. The character of Micaela (Lynn Bari) is given far more prominence in the film than in the book and indeed, some of the victims who are killed on the bridge are changed from the novel. What remains is pure melodrama, in style, a forerunner of the "disaster" films that would come to fruition in the 1970s with disparate characters united by a horrific disaster. The performances are uneven with only Akim Tamiroff as a theatrical impresario and Louis Calhern as the Peruvian Viceroy showing any consistency. Previously made in 1929 and again in 2004. The score is by Dimitri Tiomkin. With Francis Lederer playing twins, Alla Nazimova, Joan Lorring, Blanche Yurka and Abner Biberman.

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