In 1644, we are told of the revolt of the English Parliament and Oliver Cromwell’s army against the tyrannical rule of King Charles I. During this time frame a baby wrapped in a blanket on which the name Amber is sewn is left at the front door of a poor Puritan farmer by a fleeing nobleman, who is then killed by his pursuers. The film then picks up in 1660 as the grown-up Amber, a poor English country gal, rejects her father’s choice of who she should marry and runs away from her small village to London. There she hooks up with the pre-occupied Bruce Carlton, a peer who petitions King Charles II for his just rewards for fighting for his Restoration. Amber falls madly in love with him, but he never returns his love. Instead he knocks her up and goes to sea in a privateering enterprise (shares with the king the booty he makes by robbing foreign ships) when his petition to the wily king comes through. The naive Amber is soon cheated out of the money Bruce left her by crooked investors and is sent to prison as a pauper on false charges. In prison, she arranges her escape with highway bandit Black Jack and gives birth to Bruce’s child outside prison. Mother Red Cap, the head of Jack’s gang arranged the escape and expects Amber to work her robbery schemes to pay her back. The now more resourceful Amber escapes from the gang’s clutches during one such robbery by hiding out in Captain Morgan’s house; he’s a captain in the king’s guard and through his connections gets her a gig as an actress and helps her raise enough money to buy back her baby from Mother Red Cap. —Ozu’s World of Movie Reviews
Otto Ludwig Preminger (December 5, 1905 – April 23, 1986) was an Austrian-born Jewish American film director who moved from the theatre to Hollywood, directing over 35 feature films in a five-decade career. He rose to prominence for stylish film noir mysteries such as Laura (1944) and Fallen Angel (1945). In the 1950s and 1960s, he directed a number of high-profile adaptations of popular novels and stage works. Several of these pushed the boundaries of censorship by dealing with topics which were then taboo in Hollywood, such as drug addiction (The Man with the Golden Arm, 1955), rape (Anatomy of a Murder, 1959), and homosexuality (Advise and Consent, 1962). He was twice nominated for the Best Director Academy Award. He also had a few acting roles.
Preminger was born in Wiznitz, a town west of Czernowitz, Northern Bukovyna, in today’s Ukraine, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to Markus and Josefa Preminger. Preminger’s father was born in 1877 in Galicia, at a time when… read more
John Malcolm Stahl (January 21, 1886 – January 12, 1950) was an American film director and producer.
Born in New York City, New York, he began working in the city’s growing motion picture industry at a young age and directed his first silent film short in 1914. In the early 1920s Stahl signed on with Louis B. Mayer Pictures in Hollywood and in 1924 was part of the Mayer team that became MGM Studios.
In 1927, John Stahl was one of the thirty-six founding members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. With the industry’s transition to talkies and feature-length films, John Stahl successfully made the adjustment and for Universal Pictures he directed the 1934 film Imitation of Life which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. The following year, he directed Magnificent Obsession, starring Irene Dunne and Robert Taylor.
John Stahl continued to produce and direct major productions as well filler shorts right up to the time of his death. Some… read more
Balzac's Rastignac as heroine. Everything is calculated with the detached precision of a Technicolor abacus. Kubrick and Barry Lyndon, eat your hearts out. Preminger's masterpiece.
Fourteen U.S. states banned the book as pornography. The first was Massachusetts, whose attorney general cited 70 references to sexual intercourse, 39 illegitimate pregnancies, 7 abortions, and "10 descriptions of women undressing in front of men" as reasons for banning the novel. Winsor: "I wrote only two sexy passages," she remarked, "and my publishers took both of them out. They put in ellipsis instead. In those days, you know, you could solve everything with an ellipsis."
How can one find this film « mediocre » is beyond me. It's probably (with the equally great Cardinal) the most tangible proof of Preminger’s intermittent genius, this serene blend of cold detachment and underlying lyricism — akin to these ochre spots L. Shamroy manages to find in an obscured landscape. The sudden, devastating ending is yet another testimonial to the censorship's great sense of dramatic condensation.