“She’s in love with her own ambitions; I’m only part of them.”
An ambitious orphan (Linda Darnell) falls in love with a nobleman (Cornel Wilde) during the Stuart Restoration, but her desire for social advancement at any cost compromises their relationship.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Cornel Wilde Films
- George Sanders Films
- Historical Drama
- Jessica Tandy Films
- Linda Darnell Films
- Obsessive Love
- Otto Preminger Films
- Richard Haydn Films
- Royalty and Nobility
- Social Climbers
Linda Darnell replaced Peggy Cummins at the last minute as the title character in this big-budget historical epic, directed by Otto Preminger and based on Kathleen Winsor’s notoriously scandalous bestseller about a “wench” in 17th century England, a “loose” woman who bears a child out of wedlock and sleeps with various men as needed to achieve her goals. Darnell is surprisingly effective as Amber, a willful, self-reliant woman with one fatal flaw: an undying love for a man (Wilde) who simply doesn’t love her as much in return. But because Wilde’s character is a bit of a wet blanket — and because we don’t sense much chemistry between these two nominal romantic leads — Amber’s obsession with him never quite rings as true as it should.
Meanwhile, the lengthy, overblown script — which attempts to cover the novel’s 900+ pages in 138 minutes — often drags, leading one to concede that Amber DOES last “forever”. Yet I’ll admit that eventually (in classic “page-turner” fashion) I found myself caught up in Amber’s fate, and curious to see what situation she would get herself into (and out of) next.
Watch for a couple of noteworthy supporting performances: George Sanders is perfectly cast as hedonistic King Charles II; while his screentime is limited, he’s given some pithy zingers, and pulls off a couple of memorable later scenes with typically droll panache. Richard Haydn is equally effective in a small role as the older titled man Amber ends up marrying, for better or for worse.
Note: Jessica Tandy appears in a small role as Amber’s prisonmate-turned-servant.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Linda Darnell as Amber
- George Sanders as King Charles II
- Richard Haydn as the Earl of Radcliffe
No; this one is only must-see for Preminger completists or fans of period epics.