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The Son of Monte Christo (January 10, 1940)

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The Son of Monte Cristo
 

Released on January 10, 1940: The richest man in the world dons a mask and fights for the freedom of a nation, and the hand of a princess.

Directed by Rowland V. Lee

The Actors: Joan Bennett (Grand Duchess Zona of Lichtenburg), Louis Hayward (Edmund Dantes Jr.), George Sanders (General Gurko Lanen), Florence Bates (Countess Mathilde Von Braun), Lionel Royce (Colonel Zimmerman), Montagu Love (Prime Minister Bron Von Neuhoff), Ian Wolfe (Conrad Stadt), Clayton Moore (Lieutenant Fritz Dorner), Ralph Byrd (William Gluck), Georges Renavent (Marquis de Chantante), Michael Visaroff (Prince Paul Pavlov), Rand Brooks (Hans Mirbach), Theodore von Eltz (captain), James Seay (Lieutenant Stone), Henry Brandon (Lieutenant Schultz), Jack Mulhall (Schmidt), Edward Keane (turnkey), Ernie Adams (informer), Stanley Andrews (turnkey), Maurice Cass (Max the tailor), Michael Mark (Archbishop), Charles Trowbridge (Priest), Ted Oliver (turnkey), Wyndham Standing (Chamberlain), Lionel Belmore (Hercules Snyder), Margaret Fealy (Mrs. Snyder), Charles Waldron (Kurt Mirbach), George Barrows (unknown), Ted Billings (extra in Mirbach's shop), Stanley Blystone (Max), Dick Curtis (guard), Donald Curtis (guard), Franklyn Farnum (friend of Von Neuhoff), Dwight Frye (Pavlov's secretary), Lawrence Grant (Baron), Chuck Hamilton (guard), Leyland Hodgson (wedding guard), Jerry Jerome (unknown), George Lollier (unknown), Walter McGrail (unknown), Alberto Morin (friend of Von Neuhoff), Edmund Mortimer (officer), Dirk Thane (unknown), Victor Zimmerman (unknown).

 
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When I was in the seventh grade in Meadville, Pennsylvania, I was moved from the advanced English class to a remedial class where I learned to diagram each word of a sentence, and parse verbs, and study adverbs and adjectives in great detail while some other class mates spent their time reading and discussing the classics. At first I was a bit insulted that I wasn't deemed as good as some of my classmates that could skip the grunt nuts-and-bolts part of the U.S. English language, but I now understand that it was preparing me to write a bit better than I would have otherwise. But the unintended consequenses are that as a result, I would rather watch a James Bond movie than a telling of a Shakespeare drama. When it was time to watch and review this movie that was taken from a famous story by Alexandre Dumas about a duchy in the Balkans in horse and carriage days, my initial enthusiasm was not terribly high. Ahhhh, but we must do what we must do. Surprisingly, this movie is even better and filled with more death-defying action than a James Bond thriller . . . honest. This is definately a movie for the guys, but you can let your lady watch with you if you must . . .

It has a dashing young hero who fights the evil bad guys from the first minutes right up until the final minute when our hero battles the villain to the death. Our amazing testosterone-filled hero is a young Louis Hayward, later to portray master detective The Lone Wolf on television. In this action packed thriller he is the Count of Monte Cristo, the richest man in the world, and at the same time the masked crusader of justice. But we fellows need more than just man-to-man fighting and struggle - we need a Bond girl - some real nice 'eye-candy.' For that we have a real hottie in Joan Bennett - sheesh, I had no idea that such gorgeous women existed way back in 1940. What a babe! And of course, we need a dastardly and cunning villain - for that we have the incomparable performance by veteran actor George Sanders. We instantly hate him, but at the same time admire his skill and cunning as a cruel but smart dictator. As General Gurko Lanen, he seems to be the equal and even the better of our hero The Count of Monte Cristo. With spies everywhere, he is always one step ahead of our hero. Our masked marvel is finally caught and imprisoned the day before the evil General Gurko will force the helpless and lovely Zona of Lichtenburg to marry him. The dastardly wedding is in progress as the Count of Monte Cristo escapes and heads to the wedding, but he probably will not be in time to save the fair maiden.

Will the evil General and the lovely Grand Duchess Zona complete their wedding vows, which are in progress even as the Count of Monte Cristo finally escapes his prison cell? What will happen when the Archbishop gets to the line about 'Does any man have any reason why these two should not be wed?' Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn and drizzle plenty of warm melted butter on it, because you are in for the adventure of a lifetime as Louis Hayward and George Sanders fight mano-a-mano for the life of a nation and the hand of a princess, right down to the last unexpected, dangerous edge-of-your-seat moments when only one of our combatants will survive.

Louis HaywardJoan Bennett
Louis HaywardJoan Bennett
Florence Bates and Joan BennettGeorge Sanders
Florence Bates and Joan BennettGeorge Sanders
George Sanders and Joan BennettGeorge Sanders and Joan Bennett
George Sanders and Joan BennettGeorge Sanders and Joan Bennett
Gorges RenaventIan Wolfe
Georges RenaventIan Wolfe
Ian Wolfe, Florence Bates and Joan BennettJames Seay and Louis Hayward
Ian Wolfe, Florence Bates and Joan BennettJames Seay and Louis Hayward
Joan BennettJoan Bennett, Michael Marks and George Sanders
Joan BennettJoan Bennett, Michael Mark and George Sanders
Joan Bennett and Montagu LoveLouis Hayward and George Sanders
Joan Bennett and Montagu LoveLouis Hayward and George Sanders
Louis Hayward and Joan BennettLouis Hayward and Joan Bennett
Louis Hayward and Joan BennettLouis Hayward and Joan Bennett
Montagu LoveRalph Byrd
Montagu LoveRalph Byrd