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Monte Cristo (1922)

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THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO is one of Alexandre Dumas père's most successful novels, along with THE THREE MUSKETEERS. Eugene O'Neill's father, James O'Neill, made a career of the role for decades, committing an abbreviated version of it to the screen in 1913. Indeed, the IMDb lists more than thirty screen adaptations of the work. The most successful version was, I feel, the 1975 version starring Richard Chamberlain. Yet all of the versions I have seen -- about a dozen of them -- struggle to simply tell the tale, let alone infuse the story with the depth and breadth of Dumas' novel, which runs to a thousand pages in full translation, a novel which encompasses issues of morality, godliness, the Vampire Theater of Paris which flourished for half a century in France -- and the ultimate futility of vengeance.

Therefore, it is a shock to see this movie, recently restored and issued on DVD by Flicker Alley, directed by little-remembered Emmett J. Flynn in a two-DVD set with the recently rediscovered BARDELYS THE MAGNIFICENT. This is a wonderful retelling of the story, with fine performances in what was heralded as 'an all-star cast'. The script is carefully written to cover the scenes not shown on the screen. If the print seems, at times, to be a bit washed out, this apparent failure can be laid on the film stock of the era: the orthochromatic film that had been a standard of the industry for almost thirty years would be superseded within a couple of years by faster, panchromatic stock that could film blues more effectively.

If the story seems a bit rushed and more straightforward…

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