review for Cyrano De Bergerac on AllMovie

Cyrano De Bergerac (1950)
by Michael Costello review

Michael Gordon's film adaptation of the Rostand classic seems to have been limited to a B-movie budget, but features an Oscar-winning performance by Jose Ferrer. The tale of the 17th century swordsman gifted with every quality but the courage to profess his love has frequently been filmed, and in this version Hollywood was attempting to transfer Ferrer's celebrated stage production to the screen. Ferrer, though often effective, apparently did little to tone down his performance for the screen, often hammily overplaying dialogue better served by a more naturalistic delivery. Yet in the play's well-known set pieces -- the opening duel which counterpoints his verse with swordplay, and Cyrano's rhyming catalogue of witty nose invective -- he's at his best. With the exception of Morris Carnovsky, he's surrounded by a surprisingly mediocre cast, particularly Mala Powers as Roxanne, an actress whose vapid presence tends to rob Cyrano's ardor of its credibility, and William Prince, who plays the heroic Christian with the all the passion of a nervous postal clerk. While the film's direction is undistinguished, Dimitri Tiomkin's energetic score is well suited to its spirit.