Forever Amber (1947)

Genres - Drama, Historical Film, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Period Film, Romantic Drama  |   Release Date - Oct 10, 1947 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 140 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Forever Amber was a tremendous popular hit in its day, largely because of its "racy" subject, well known to viewers of the time because the novel upon which it is based had also been tremendously popular; however, much of the sex had to be considerably diminished for the screen version; in 1947, this didn't seem to matter too much, but modern audiences will probably be bothered by the film's "hinting" approach. Still, for the time, the film does have a number of "shocking" elements -- the heroine has a child out of wedlock and is clearly using her sexual wiles to gain favors and position, even if this is not exactly spelled out. What really works against Amber, however, isn't the lack of sexual detail so much as the lack of sexual chemistry between the leads. Linda Darnell, of course, simply exudes sexuality (even if she comes across as far too 20th century in her manner), but she gets nothing back from Cornel Wilde, and so the intense passion that Darnell's character feels for Wilde's makes no sense. And if that makes no sense, her motivations throughout the film make no sense. Coming off much better is George Sanders, simply delicious in the kind of role he was born to play. Sanders is such a good match for the role that he could easily have walked through it and still have come off a winner; but he adds nuance and detail that guarantee he steals practically every scene in which he appears. Otto Preminger's direction is so-so, but the physical production is lush and lavish.