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Corsican Brothers, The (1941, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Ruth Warrick)



French novelist Alexandre Dumas’ novels have frequently been the inspiration for movies (from The Man in the Iron Mask to The Three Musketeers), but arguably none have proved as durable as the 1841 novel The Corsican Brothers. As well as two silent versions, there’s been a spoof version with Gene Wilder and Donald Sutherland (Start the Revolution Without Me) and a Cheech and Chong adaptation in the ’80s. And even this, the most archetypally swashbuckling version, inspired a sequel in the ’50s (Bandits Of Corsica). Nearly 60 years on, it remains as lively and charismatic as ever.

The drama begins against the backdrop of a family feud between the Franchis and the Colonnas on the island of Corsica. Count Franchi (Henry Wilcoxon) and his wife (Gloria Holden) are expecting the birth of their son and heir, but their bitter enemy Baron Colonna (Akim Tamiroff) sees the moment as the ideal time to attack. After the Countess has given birth to Siamese twins, the Colonnas storm the castle, killing everyone but the doctor (HB Warner) and a servant, Lorenzo (J Carrol Naish).

The men escape with the twins and the doctor performs an emergency operation to separate them. He entrusts one to Lorenzo and arranges for the other to be brought up in safety in Paris. When they are 21, the two brothers are reunited and told of their tragic family background. The twins, Lucien and Mario (both played by Douglas Fairbanks Jr), vow vengeance upon Baron Colonna. This isn’t the only shock they have: Lucien also discovers that he feels the exact same sensations as brother Mario. As well as sharing the same pain, Lucien also shares his brother’s passion for Countess Isabelle (Ruth Warrick). This desire will result initially in tragedy but ultimately lead to revenge for Colonna’s crimes.

production details
USA | 111 minutes | 1941

Director: Gregory Ratoff
Writer: George Bruce, Howard Estabrook (based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas)

Douglas Fairbanks Jr. as Lucien Franchi / Mario Franchi
Ruth Warrick as Countess Isabelle Gravini
Akim Tamiroff as Baron Colonna
J. Carrol Naish as Lorenzo
H.B. Warner as Dr. Enrico Paoli
John Emery as Tomasso
Henry Wilcoxon as Count Victor Franchi
Gloria Holden as Countess Franchi
Walter Kingsford as Monsieur Dupre
Nana Bryant as Madame Dupre
Pedro de Cordoba as Count Gravini
Veda Ann Borg as Maria
William Farnum as Priest
Sarah Padden as Nurse
Manart Kippen as Martelli
Ruth Robinson as Angela