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Bride of Vengeance

1949 | 4:3 | Black & White | Quality: Excellent

Paulette Goddards

John Lund

Albert Dekker


Casare Borgia sits on the throne of power in Rome, but secretly schemes to conquer the city of Venice as well which is ruled by his brother-in-law! Sitting between Rome and Venice is the tiny independent kingdom of Ferrara - which becomes a pawn in Borgia's scheme! Borgia murders his sister's husband and frames Alfonso D'Este of Ferrara for the killing, hoping this will weaken both kingdoms and he can swoop in and claim the spoils. Everything seems to be going according to plan as the enraged Lucretia Borgia vows to avenge her slain husband against Ferrara and D'Este, but as she investigates matters and gets to know Alfonso it soon becomes apparent that not all is at it appears - and things become even more complicated when the smooth-talking Alfonso begins to win her heart.

An interesting period costumer that is loosely based - and I mean LOOSELY - on a period in the life of Lucretia Borgia, this one is almost worth having just due to what went on behind the scenes in the making. The part of Alfonso D'Este, played by John Lund, was originally assigned to Ray Milland. However, Milland disliked the title and script so much that he absolutely refused to take the part and was suspended from his contract at Paramount for two months. He didn't regret this, as he used the time off to go skiing and sailing. Upon release, the film was blasted by critics, and was unfortunately a step in the wrong direction for Goddard's career. Over the years the picture has gained a very loyal following. Paulette Goddard's makeup job for this movie became notorious in Hollywood circles and was the source of many on-set disagreements. Some love the look, some lampoon it. I think she looks absolutely amazing; she and the other leads all perform well. A tale of love, betrayal and murder, sprinkled with moments of humor that manages to avoid spoiling the story's overall tone. John Lund in particular handles the dual themes of humor and gravity very ably. Lund is, to my mind, much underrated. His comedic timing is very good, delivered in a gentle manner, and perhaps it is this that sometimes gave the mistaken impression that he was an acting lightweight. Macdonald Carey plays Lucretia Borgia's devious brother who, despite his vile actions and intentions, is not entirely unlikeable - as he explains to his sister "We live in times when acts of cruelty are sometimes necessary to survive." It is Raymond Burr who, not for the first time, plays the less sympathetic villain here.

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