March 6th, 2011: Cyrano De Bergerac (1950)

What It’s About: Cyrano (Jose Ferrer) is a gallant soldier and an excellent poet, with the biggest nose (and mouth) in all of Paris.  His proud, outspoken, and uncompromising nature wins him many friends-but even more powerful enemies.  He believes he is too unattractive to pursue Roxanne (Mala Powers), his muse and the object of his affections.  When she reveals her attraction to the handsome but simple Christian De Neuvillette (William Prince), a young soldier in Cyrano’s unit, Cyrano decides to help him by giving him the words he needs to woo her.  The scheme is successful, but becomes tragic when France calls Christian and Cyrano to war…

Why Watch it Today?: Cyrano De Bergerac was born today in 1655. The film is based on Edmond Rostand’s play, which takes great liberties with the life of the real De Bergerac, who was in fact a soldier and a playwright of great wit, but whose nose was not so large as to constitute a deformity, and who was not involved with his cousin, Roxanne (in fact some scholars suggest he wasn’t even heterosexual).  Jose Ferrer gives one of the all time great performances as Cyrano, deservedly winning the Oscar for Best Actor in 1951.  Cyrano is a model of wit, humor, and dash, and the film moves easily from comedy to romance to tragedy.  The rest of the cast doesn’t quite measure up to Ferrer’s standard and the film displays it’s relatively low-budget in limited sets and a stage bound feel, but ultimately Ferrer’s performance, and the dialogue taken directly from the play, overcomes these weaknesses.

Where to Get It:  Your local library, Netflix, or Amazon or watch the film for free at the Internet Archive.

2 comments on “March 6th, 2011: Cyrano De Bergerac (1950)

  1. shmoo says:

    Random, I have the Depardieu version of this on my DVR and was thinking about watching it tonight. Of course, I’ve seen the Ferrer version, as well as the silent version and the Steve Martin one.

    • professormortis says:

      I’ve only seen this one and the Steve Martin one (though I saw that long before I knew who Cyrano was), and I read one of the translations of the play. I should see the others at some point.

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