Prince of Foxes (1949) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: In 1500, Duke Cesare Borgia hopes to marry his sister (widowed by poison) to the heir apparent of Ferrara, which impedes his conquest of central Italy. On this delicate mission he sends Andrea Orsini, his cousin Angela's lover and nearly as unscrupulous as himself. En route, Orsini meets Camilla… Runtime: 107 min Release Date: 23 Dec 1949
This beautiful film was actually filmed in Sienna Italy in a palace which can be toured at the foot of the huge piazza and elsewhere in Italy, including Venice. That is why it seemed so authentic, because it is. I used to watch it and it added to my desire to travel to Italy and study Italian history. Finally, I did actually tour the building that was used as the interior of the palaces and I could almost see the film scene for scene as I did. It is another example of the brilliance of Orson Welles. I always watch it when it is played. Tyrone Power is beautiful and I have grown to enjoy Wanda <more>
Hendrix performance more with time as she does look a lot like some of the portraits of Italian women of the time. All of the characters look as if they stepped out of Renaissance paintings. As for Orson Welles it is a privilege to see his work and study his acting, directing and film-making.
Orson Welles & Sir Felix Aylmer Revel Amid Medieval Pomp & Panoply (by Ron Oliver)
A cunning young soldier of fortune finds himself in the employ of Cesare Borgia, THE PRINCE OF FOXES. The young man is sent on a diplomatic mission to pave the way for Borgia's conquest of Italy, but instead he falls in love - exposing himself to the full force of his master's wrath...Strangely overlooked & underrated, this is a wonderful film, full of swashbuckling action, intrigue & adventure. The acting is mostly first rate and the production values & photography are both sumptuous. But beyond this, PRINCE OF FOXES is blessed with a literate, intelligent script & <more>
story line in which it is an actual pleasure to immerse oneself. Intelligent viewers are amply rewarded for their time & attention.Tyrone Power is the valiant hero and he gives a good performance, even if his American accent seems a bit out of place. Always concerned that his handsome looks were more appreciated than his thespian abilities, he finds himself here surrounded by co-stars replete with protean skills. What can one say about Orson Welles? That he takes the small role of Cesare Borgia and turns it into a fascinating character study? This is only to be expected. But there is more. Welles' oversized talent & personality nearly overwhelm the screen - the medium was almost too small to contain him. He imbues his part with such sardonic humor & sly cunning as to almost make Borgia - and this is high praise indeed - stand on a par with his forthcoming Harry Lime. In fact, Cesare & Harry have much in common, beyond the fact that they were both portrayed by the same splendid actor. They both reveal human evil in all its charming rapacity. Both are utterly, deadly ruthless. Borgia is Lime with an army.A further joy in watching PRINCE OF FOXES is the chance to see the wonderful old actor Sir Felix Aylmer in a role worthy of his skill. For nearly four decades this quiet, unassuming man appeared in a multitude of British films, usually in small, unexciting parts. Here, he is given a generous role as an elderly count who must contend with Borgia. Deftly underplaying his scenes & giving his lines full justice with his unique voice, Sir Felix gives a master's class in good acting.Everett Sloane, Welles' old buddy from their Mercury Theater days, gives a finely nuanced performance as a hired assassin - his face a mask of treacherous villainy. As Power's peasant mother, Katina Paxinou is powerful in her small role.Filmed throughout Italy in various magnificent Renaissance locations, it is the fairy tale walls of San Marino which stand out in particular, doubling for the fictitious Citta del Monte. This tiny republic, the world's oldest, spreads its 23 square miles over Mount Titano, east of Florence, and is completely surrounded by Italy. Ironically, San Marino was actually captured by Cesare Borgia at one time . The triple fortresses of its capital, crowning the heights of Titano, provide the film with its most memorable vistas. And herein lies an interesting bit of cinematic trivia. Although it had been a safe haven for anti-Mussolini dissidents during the Second World War, the Republic had suffered damage to its majestic walls after being mistakenly bombed by the Allies near the end of the conflict. When the folks from Twentieth Century Fox arrived wanting to make PRINCE OF FOXES and use San Marino as a pivotal backdrop, the Republic agreed, on condition that the film company repair the bomb damage to the fortifications on Mount Titano. Which is why San Marino reminds some tourists today of a Hollywood set...The film ends very ambiguously as to the fate of Cesare Borgia, but history is not so vague. The illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI, Cesare 1475-1507 started his rise to power early, first in his ancestral Spain and later in Italy. At the age of seven he was created prothonotary & canon of the cathedral of Valencia - but it was in 1491 at the age of sixteen that his career really started to move. Over the course of the next two years Cesare was quickly created bishop, archbishop & cardinal. In 1498 he renounced his cardinalate to become Captain General of the Papal Army. Working hand in glove with the Pope, they furthered their schemes towards wresting a northern Italian kingdom for Cesare.A marriage that same year with the sister of the King of Navarre and the acceptance of a French dukedom, gave Cesare & Alexander the French support they would need for their plots of conquest. The film begins in 1500, by which time Cesare was fully immersed in his generally successful campaigns. The opening scene shows the funeral of Cesare's brother-in-law, Duke Alfonso of Bisceglie, the husband of Cesare's wicked sister Lucrezia; that unlucky gentleman had been stabbed by a quartet of Cesare's assassins and subsequently strangled in his sickbed by Cesare's servant. Hated & despised by the rank and file of the citizenry of Italy, Alexander & Cesare had to constantly fight against the overwhelming tide of public opinion.Surviving one rebellion in his army - and treacherously murdering the ringleaders after feigning peace - Cesare's fortunes at last crumbled with the death of his father in 1503. The new pope, Julius II, was an implacable enemy and demanded the release of Cesare's dominions. Cesare was eventually captured by the Spanish, imprisoned in Spain, and made a daring escape. He now offered his services to his brother-in-law, the King of Navarre. Cesare Borgia's short, violent, utterly fascinating life came to an end in 1507 when he was killed in a skirmish with rebels.
I first saw PRINCE OF FOXES on The Fabulous 52, a movie TV premier series, on KNXT-TV back in the 1950s. The film made such an impact on me I later searched for the source book, Samuel Shellabarger's novel, and read it and his other historical adventures. The movie is better than the book. Power, Welles and in particular Everett Sloane excel; only Wanda Hendrix disappoints. She is by far too shallow and light for the role of the Lady Dona Camilla. Filmed where it would have happened, with money trapped in Italy after the war by Italian monetary policy that wouldn't allow Fox movie <more>
profits to leave the country there was enough money for the movie, but not for color, alas , PRINCE is evocative of a real place and a real time. Sloane's betrayal of Power, and reversal, is one of the best moments in film. When Sloane plucks out Power's eyes with his thumbs "Scream! Scream, I tell you!" it's one of the great moments in adventure film. And later, when Belli Sloane , who posed for painter Power as Judas, laughs at his revolving duplicity, you can't help but laugh with him.If PRINCE OF FOXES has weakness excepting those already mentioned, the absence of color and the leading lady's absence of presence , it's that there isn't enough of it. The film is too quick, the afterimage too fleeting from the eye. I'm always left wanting to see more.PRINCE OF FOXES is the best swashbuckler I've ever seen. It should be available on DVD for everyone to enjoy.
Just this weekend I stumbled across this lovely film on American Movie Classics AMC while fiddling around with the old remote. I was absolutely astounded by the realism of the sets: one felt transported to Renaissance Italy. Castles, palaces, towers were all faithfully replicated. The costumes were gorgeous. The armor and weaponry appeared accurate and deadly. Even the catapults were genuine; they did not appear to be models.The acting was superb! You take for granted that the performances of Welles and Sloane would be excellent. But the very pleasant surprise came with Tyrone Power's <more>
portrayal of Orsini. I never considered Power more than just a pretty face and an excellent swordsman . However, this film changed my opinion of his acting talents completely. In fact, all the supporting cast turned in satisfying performances.This is a true gem of a film, I would love to see it on the big screen.
One of the best "period" films I've seen (by funkyfry)
I was very pleased with pretty much every aspect of this production. This is really an exceptional historical drama, and although it doesn't have some of the pure thrills of the best swashbuckling action films it more than makes up for it in my book with a complex, adult story that takes the main characters through major transformations. There are many twists and turns in the narrative but all are handled in such a way that neither suspense nor character are sacrificed.The film tells the story of Orsini Tyrone Power , or a man who calls himself Orsini we find out that his true mother <more>
was a peasant , an extremely cynical and ambitious man in the employ of the famous warlord Cesare Borgia Orson Welles . Borgia sends him on several missions during which the stated goal is for Orsini to arrange and break marriages that will prove advantageous to Borgia. When he arrives for his first mission in Vienna, he is immediately the object of a botched assassination attempt, but instead of killing the assassin Mario Belli Everett Sloane he makes him his assistant. This might seem arbitrary but the further we get into the film we see this is Orsini's true character; he is a master at taking the negative things life throws him and turning them positive.Sloane does his best to steal every scene that Welles hasn't already absconded with, but Power manages to focus the attention on himself a surprising amount of the time all things considered. All 3 are powerful and interesting characters, with Welles' Borgia unfortunately missing in action for the main part of the action but reappearing in a startling torture/dinner scene towards the climax this is also Sloane's best scene in the film . Those expecting a straightforward adventure/romance story like "Scarlet Pimpernell" or "Zorro" best look elsewhere this is a story of corruption, betrayal, and redemption which engages the question of the ultimate value or worth of an individual's life. The film's creators have set themselves up with a difficult task they need to make us dislike Orsini just enough to believe that he truly is a complete opportunist with a consciously Machiavellian philosophy, but like him enough to believe that he's undergoing a slow moral transformation under the influence of Count Verano Felix Aylmer and his young wife "Madonna"/Camilla Wanda Hendrix . They succeed almost perfectly, hampered only slightly by Hendrix' lack of presence a definite necessity for this role which combines sexual and religious overtones with her royal station . At one point there's a biblical analogy going on, as Orsini paints his friend Belli in a "last supper" scene as Judas and seems to paint Camilla as the Lady Madonna. So there's just a lot going on here depending on where your gaze wanders. In the early parts of the film when Orsini is a total cynic about morality who took advantage of everyone else, I thought I was looking at a kind of period film noir in fact his character in the beginning is very similar to his great performance in "Nightmare Alley." His dramatic character development is handled in a relatively subtle way there's a kernel of good in his soul that's revealed in his painting, a reflection of his ability to see beauty in people that's been buried by the harsh demands of life. It does make sense that eventually he would see the beauty and good in himself as well.There seems to be some controversy on the subject of the photography of the film, which many posters say should have been done in color. In my opinion the film has much more style and beauty in black and white. Technicolor is better suited to a less dramatic story; even though this film has some great spectacle including a full-blown castle siege and a memorable woodland battle in the mist I think the photography was excellent, and the black and white enhanced the details and beauty of the interiors while keeping the focus firmly set on the actors. Night-time scenes like Belli's assassination attempt and the eerie misty forest would not be as effective in color either. As soon as I saw that this was a serious dramatic piece I was glad not to be distracted by anyone's purple and green tights.One last note on Alfred Newman's score it is remarkable, one of the best for an epic/period film that I've ever heard. Combined with excellent photography, indelible performances from the 3 male leads, seemingly dozens of authentic Italian locations, and a mature intelligent screenplay, it provides director Henry King with the best production that I've yet seen from the veteran director. I've never known King as a particularly good director of actors but in this film we have 3 performances that are unforgettable. Welles with his bizarre beard and brazen manner paint a portrait of unworthy ambition at first his greed and power appear glamorous and appealing to us just as they do to Orsini, but eventually he is shown as a petty malicious fool when Orsini and Belli trick him in the supper scene. Sloane's Belli is a fascinating character, totally unpredictable in his behavior but somehow still believable as a human being. Power's Orsini is a remarkable character as well, revealing depths of feeling in the heart of a true warrior. This is just the type of film that entertains you immensely with its plot twists and character developments on first viewing but which I suspect will reveal even more depth upon multiple viewings.
I only get to see this when its on TV and have never yet had the pleasure of seeing the film in its entirety. Definitely one of Tyrone Powers' best performances, and a superb supporting cast. Surprising for Hollywood of the time and for Hollywood of all time, actually , the flavor of the film and its characters are accurate to the time and place of the film's setting.This film and Leslie Howard's "Pimpernel Smith" are two of the films I most regret lacking from my film library.Why is this not on DVD? Why is Myra Breckinridge, On Deadly Ground, and Gigli? Proof positive <more>
that movie industry executive have their heads firmly inserted in warm, dark, and smelly place.
One of the Most Beautiful B/W Historicals Ever Put Onto Film; Well-Acted (by silverscreen888)
This is the only film whose producer ever rented a country. The tiny country rented to become "Citta del Monte" in Samuel Shellabarger's well-plotted "Prince of Foxes" was actually the real country of Andorra. The historical novel on which this beautifully-paced and emotionally satisfying film was made left Milton Krims, scenarist, with an unsolvable problem--which he proceeded to solve. The plot line involved Tyrone Power as ambitious young Andrea Orsini with Cesare Borgia's scheme to unite and rule Italy; Orson Welles does well as a charismatic Borgia, whose plan <more>
it is to marry his sister played by Marina Berti to the Duke of Ferrara; poison will follow, and the key to Italy will drop from the dying Duke's hand into his own grasp. But Andrea must first perform a mission involving the betraying of the strategic Citta Del Monte into Borgia's hands. His Mother, played by Katina Paxinou, is horrified when she hears what he is becoming; and during the mission, undertaken with Everett Sloane as an assassin he takes into service-- his own death having been the one planned--he decides to serve the Lord of the city, ably played by Felix Aylmer and also his daughter, with whom he if falling in love, miscast but hard-working Wanda Hendrix. The final battle is fought, and a happy ending is achieved--for all save Cesare Borgia and those whose death his schemes have wasted. This is a beautiful B/W drama, with lovely sets by Thomas Little,, Alfred Newman's fine music, Leon Shamroy's exquisite photography and period costumes by Vittorio Nino Novarese that I found unforgettable. Kudos also go to Roy D. Webb as 2nd Unit Director for the action scenes that relieve the very competent dialogue portions expertly crafted by director Henry King. This film, which could have been badly made, glows like a ruby set in the hilt of a dagger flashing back the rays of a spring sun. It is well-remembered, and a benchmark of a production against which other historical dramas are measured still.
Welles astounds with his undeniable greatness (by MissRosa)
Once again, Welles astounds with his talent. Even though he is not listed in this film's credits as director or writer, the great Welles has left indefatigable stamp of genius on this film. His fascination and artistic absorption with great, unbridled power, moral resistance to that power and the response of the artist has once again propelled him to greatness.His is a fascinating, swaggering, bemused, sly as the title implies impression of the all-powerful Borgia and his near success at corrupting the artist, Orsini. Shades of Citizen Kane and Harry Lyme..?Naturally, there is a <more>
weaselly accomplice Sloan , and he is terrific too. I found Tyrone Power's performance more than adequate -- for once. Production values were good, too.But the keynote of the entire production is the masterful Welles. His portrayals are a joy to encounter, maybe because he finds the rich and powerful entertainingly evil, while the rest of us poor mortals find them too intimidating to even acknowledge.Who cares about Welles' "troubles with Hollywood"? Skip the gossip, people, and THINK about his characters' motives and behavior. And their relevance. Talk is cheap. It is easy for the American Film Institute to call Citizen Kane the number one movie of all time, but which side were they on when Welles was being persecuted by his Hollywood peers? And where are they now, when talented independent filmmakers are trying to get their "dangerous" films shown -- or recognized ?The fact is, with or without support or financing, Welles was in a class by himself. His brilliant mind, rampant creativity, sheer acting ability, courage, originality and artistic integrity have yet to be matched.There will never never be another Welles...Back to Prince of Foxes. This is an underrated film. See it for Welles' sake, see it for a Renaissance flash, or just see it for Everett Sloan's eyeballs...
You have to understand that Samuel Shellabarger who wrote Prince of Foxes and Captain from Castile, along with several other sabre-rattling novels of the renaissance, was a very popular writer in the 40s and this movie captures much of the romantic mood of his novels. Tyrone Power had appeared earlier in Captain from Castile which had been a hit and this effort including the great Orson Welles as Cesare Borgia, and two great character actors, Katrina Paxinou and Everett Sloane, was a fantastic production. Wanda Hendrix, who was never any great shakes beyond presenting a pretty Hollywood face, <more>
did not distract from the film but the scene chewing between Power, Sloane and, of course, Welles before he became so obese , is classic. Power with his dark handsome Irish face was always delightful in these heroic roles tinged with darkness. Recall that this film was of the same time period as his classic Nightmare Alley. It is an entertaining yarn but, alas, no video or DVD at this writing, so you'll just have to look for it on the late show. Do so because if you like the romantic golden oldies with a bit of swash and buckle, you'll dang sure like this one.