Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 1950. Stanley Kramer Productions. Screenplay by Carl Foreman, based on the play by Edmond Rostand, translated by Brian Hooker. Cinematography by Franz Planer. Produced by Stanley Kramer. Music by Dimitri Tiomkin. Production Design by Rudolph Sternad. Costume Design by Joe King, Dorothy Jeakins. Film Editing by Harry W. Gerstad. Academy Awards 1950. Golden Globe Awards 1950.
Although this adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s everlastingly famous play leaves a lot to be desired, the pleasures within it are all concentrated on Jose Ferrer‘s energetic, Oscar-winning performance. He plays the large-nosed nobleman whose talents for poetry and swordsmanship are unsurpassed by anyone near him, but whose heart breaks for the love of a beautiful woman. Fearing her rejection of him because of his unattractive appearance, Cyrano silences his feelings for the gorgeous Roxane and instead helps the handsome but idiotic man she’s in love with to woo her. Christian, the soldier who has captured Roxane with his looks, can’t utter a romantic sentence to save his life, so Cyrano writes love letters on his behalf and makes her fall deeply in love with his words. Rostand was so aware of the human frailty of visual prejudice that he just couldn’t help but write a story with such obvious allegory, its timely message as potent today as it was in the 19th century. Unfortunately, the adaptation here suffers thanks to awkward translation and performances by the supporting cast who make mincemeat of the dialogue with their harsh American delivery. The sets and costumes look a bit too bargain-basement to really let the viewer sink into the story the way one can do in the highly superior Gerard Depardieu version of 1990; in fact, Ferrer’s performance is the only thing about this one that can withstand the comparison.