T. it.: L’avventura viene dal mare. Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo (1942) di Daphne du Maurier. Scen.: Talbot Jennings. F.: George Barnes. M.: Alma Macrorie. Scgf.: Hans Dreier, Ernst Fegté. Mus.: Victor Young. Int.: Joan Fontaine (Dona St. Columb), Arturo de Córdova (Jean Benoit Aubery), Basil Rathbone (Lord Rockingham), Nigel Bruce (Lord Godolphin), Cecil Kellaway (William), Ralph Forbes (Harry St. Columb), Harald Ramond (Edmond), Billy Daniels (Pierre Blanc). Prod.: Paramount Pictures, Inc. DCP. Col.
Everything is original in this extremely refined film, which is said to have become, after multiple overspends and 104 days of shooting, the most expensive film of its day. Confounding action movie expectations, the story follows an enchanted reverie, which Leisen embraces enthusiastically through two characters not unlike himself. The pirate and the lady are in fact a pair of aesthetes seeking to escape the routine and mediocrity of everyday life in a world full of splendour, play, fun and freedom. The abundant and literary dialogue expresses the lucidity of the characters – and the author – in their search for an ideal that is doubtless unattainable. Leisen, who had just finished filming Lady in the Dark, had little time in which to make the film. He personally created most of the sets, costumes and props, which were among the most sumptuous in American cinema. He had to leave the original screenplay to its plodding and meandering, and accept a less than obvious pair of leads than those he would have chosen (Ray Milland and Claudette Colbert). In the end, all these constraints served the movie well, its crowning glory being that it was filmed in Technicolor with a level of taste and artistry that has rarely been equalled. Worthy of note are the sublime shots of the pirate ship advancing in the mist to the accompaniment of the sailors’ voices, while the sailors’ shanties describe the ship’s manoeuvres. Ultimately, it is a tribute to the public of the day that this aesthetic, rule-defying film, with its uncommon purpose, was one of the biggest commercial hits of the year.
Jacques Lourcelles, Dictionnaire du
cinéma. Les films, Éditions Robert Laffont, Paris 1992