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Who's watching FRENCHMAN'S CREEK on TCM?


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I believe FRENCHMAN'S CREEK is a premiere, and I am looking forward to it. Saw it quite a number of years ago. How often do you get to see Joan Fontaine playing a pirate? Another very solid film from Mitchell Leisen, and great fun.

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I believe FRENCHMAN'S CREEK is a premiere, and I am looking forward to it. Saw it quite a number of years ago. How often do you get to see Joan Fontaine playing a pirate? Another very solid film from Mitchell Leisen, and great fun.

Thanks kingrat...I figured it was a TCM premiere. We also don't get the chance to see Arturo de Cordova much so it is definitely a treat.

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I'm recording it. It's the highlight of the month to me. I first saw it in the 1970s during the summer at my grandmother's house when they used to run classic movies in the afternoon. It stood out to me then because - although I knew nothing about the precode era versus production code era - it seemed out of place for an old movie to have a woman more interested in staying with her pirate host than her very bland husband. I remember very few details of the movie, so forgive me if I got something wrong. I'm looking forward to seeing it again some forty years later and filling in the details my memory has left out.

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I'm recording it. It's the highlight of the month to me. I first saw it in the 1970s during the summer at my grandmother's house when they used to run classic movies in the afternoon. It stood out to me then because - although I knew nothing about the precode era versus production code era - it seemed out of place for an old movie to have a woman more interested in staying with her pirate host than her very bland husband. I remember very few details of the movie, so forgive me if I got something wrong. I'm looking forward to seeing it again some forty years later and filling in the details my memory has left out.

I suppose it probably aired on the old AMC in the 80s/90s...but it's interesting that for some, we're talking decades between viewings. Can you imagine if someone had to wait 40 years to get another chance to see GONE WITH THE WIND again? Sort of puts it into perspective how rare many of the Paramount classics are. All the more significant when TCM decides to show them.

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"Frenchman's Creek" must be a lost film - it must've failed at the box-office - because it has absolutely no reputation today.

 

It isn't even included in Leonard Maltin's main film guide.

 

The print was - what can I say? - not so good.

 

It looks like it might've been a whitewashed version of the original novel.

 

But Joan Fontaine's unexpectedly spirited performance carries you through the nearly-ludicrous goings-on.

 

However, Joan Fontaine as a pirate lad can not be believed.

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"Frenchman's Creek" must be a lost film - it must've failed at the box-office - because it has absolutely no reputation today.

A lost film would be one where the negative is no longer available. Maybe what you meant is that it's become a "forgotten" classic film..?

 

Not sure what its box office might have been. I do know that Fontaine did not want to make the film and she voiced criticism about the finished product.

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Film critic James Agee definitely did not like FRENCHMAN'S CREEK. Some of his comments:

 

a ) he thought it borrowed its adultery theme from Madame Bovary

b ) he indicated the husband was a one-dimensional London fop

c ) he made fun of the pirate's mispronunciation of English vocabulary

d ) he compared most of the script's dialogue to wax fruit

e ) he said the entire production was sordid without depth or perception

f ) he felt Fontaine's portrayal did not convey a woman in love 

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Film critic James Agee definitely did not like FRENCHMAN'S CREEK. Some of his comments:

 

a ) he thought it borrowed its adultery theme from Madame Bovary

b ) he indicated the husband was a one-dimensional London fop

c ) he made fun of the pirate's mispronunciation of English vocabulary

d ) he compared most of the script's dialogue to wax fruit

e ) he said the entire production was sordid without depth or perception

f ) he felt Fontaine's portrayal did not convey a woman in love 

Since 20th Century Fox spent so much money on the production and it was based on a popular book by Daphne du Maurier, they were probably hoping for another "Rebecca".

 

Both heroines are "beleaguered", to say the least, but they openly invite their fates - Rebecca by marrying Max de Winter and Joan Fontaine's character by giving herself to the pirate.

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Since 20th Century Fox spent so much money on the production and it was based on a popular book by Daphne du Maurier, they were probably hoping for another "Rebecca".

 

Both heroines are "beleaguered", to say the least, but they openly invite their fates - Rebecca by marrying Max de Winter and Joan Fontaine's character by giving herself to the pirate.

FRENCHMAN'S CREEK was made by Paramount. Perhaps the reason Fontaine didn't want to do it was because she knew it was an obvious ploy to use her to cash in with another Du Maurier story. She was probably offered the chance to star in other adaptations of the author's work.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The costumes are sumptuous.  Too bad the color sucks on this print. I don't know the finer points of technicolor. Is this a bad print or does the film need to be restored. Joan looks lovely even though she's washed out. Basil is pulling off that sexy **** thing he does so well. Haven't seen this much hair going on since The Last of the Mohicans (1992). Done well, I love movies with some big hair. Must be the southerner in me.

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Oh. And this Arturo guy has got it going on. I don't think I've ever seen him before. And I love the whole "good girl" goes for the bad boy story line in this one - better than the Judy Garland/Gene Kelly pirate story. Uh-oh. Joan just stuck a knife in Basil. Gotta go!

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Oh. And this Arturo guy has got it going on. I don't think I've ever seen him before. And I love the whole "good girl" goes for the bad boy story line in this one - better than the Judy Garland/Gene Kelly pirate story. Uh-oh. Joan just stuck a knife in Basil. Gotta go!

TCM will have an evening of Arturo de Cordova films in April...so make sure you don't miss those. 

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"This film desperately needs a restoration."

 

FYI there is a gorgeous 35mm restoration of FRENCHMAN'S CREEK which has played places such as UCLA and MOMA.  I saw it and called it a "Technicolor marvel."  The print being shown on TCM bears no resemblance whatsoever to the restored print.

 

Universal needs to get its act together and make a good print of this film available to TCM.

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"This film desperately needs a restoration."

 

FYI there is a gorgeous 35mm restoration of FRENCHMAN'S CREEK which has played places such as UCLA and MOMA.  I saw it and called it a "Technicolor marvel."  The print being shown on TCM bears no resemblance whatsoever to the restored print.

 

Universal needs to get its act together and make a good print of this film available to TCM.

 

Interesting.    TCM does have a relationship with UCLA (e.g. the some of the noir films that were restored and featured by UCLA that were included in TCM's Summer of Darkness series).      Hopefully TCM will be able to get this restored copy.  

 

As for Universal getting their act together;   we can only hope but so far they don't care.

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Interesting.    TCM does have a relationship with UCLA (e.g. the some of the noir films that were restored and featured by UCLA that were included in TCM's Summer of Darkness series).      Hopefully TCM will be able to get this restored copy.  

I'm just glad TCM has been showing it, despite the washed out looking print. Helps provide a proper sense of classic film history when viewers see the Paramount titles that are outside the TCM/Turner library. 

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  I was hoping someone may have bought the DVD of FRENCHMAN'S CREEK and would respond to my query from yesterday. Nobody has responded.  I ordered the DVD this morning. In a few days I will know if there is a better print of FRENCHMAN'S CREEK available that was not made available to TCM.

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  I was hoping someone may have bought the DVD of FRENCHMAN'S CREEK and would respond to my query from yesterday. Nobody has responded.  I ordered the DVD this morning. In a few days I will know if there is a better print of FRENCHMAN'S CREEK available that was not made available to TCM.

Please let us know when you receive it and have a chance to watch it.

 

As for TCM, it may be they had options on different prints but went with one that was more in line with their budget. 

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Please let us know when you receive it and have a chance to watch it.

 

As for TCM, it may be they had options on different prints but went with one that was more in line with their budget. 

   I definitely will let everyone who is interested know the result of my purchase.

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Film critic James Agee definitely did not like FRENCHMAN'S CREEK. Some of his comments:

 

a ) he thought it borrowed its adultery theme from Madame Bovary

b ) he indicated the husband was a one-dimensional London fop

c ) he made fun of the pirate's mispronunciation of English vocabulary

d ) he compared most of the script's dialogue to wax fruit

e ) he said the entire production was sordid without depth or perception

f ) he felt Fontaine's portrayal did not convey a woman in love 

I cannot help but agree with James Agee.  I have now watched this film on both occasions of its airing on TCM.  Quite frankly I was more fascinated with the costumes and settings than the story.  However any movie that has Basil in it and Nigel Bruce is a hit with me...just enjoying these two actors together in somewhat different roles than their Sherlock Holmes' series.

 

I do believe in this instance the men's costumes far outshone anything Joan Fontaine was wearing...especially when all the guys sit down to dinner...what a visible feast of King Charles' fashion...right down to the King Charles Springer Spaniel.

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I do believe in this instance the men's costumes far outshone anything Joan Fontaine was wearing...especially when all the guys sit down to dinner...what a visible feast of King Charles' fashion...right down to the King Charles Springer Spaniel.

That seems to be the consensus among critics, that Mitchell Leisen whose background was more in art design, focused on the visuals instead of directing the leads to give strong performances. Fortunately, he has people like Fontaine and Kellaway in the cast, who probably needed minimum guidance. But it was de Cordova's first Hollywood film, and he's arguably the weakest performer in the picture. I think his acting would have been much better if someone like George Cukor or David Selznick had been on his case. 

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