The Wife of Monte Cristo

“She challenges men with her beauty . . . conquers them with her sword!”

contessa-di-montecristoTaking the titular character from The Count of Monte Cristo, the film sets up Edmund Dantes essentially as a Zorro knock-off referred to simply as “the avenger.” Expectations are subverted, however, when Edmund is wounded, has to go on the lamb, and his wife decides to do some avenging of her own. According to the opening credits, The Wife of Monte Cristo was “suggested by the novel by Alexander Dumas”–basically it’s fan fiction before fan fiction was cool.

Short of something with Errol Flynn and/or Basil Rathbone in it, so far as old school adventure movies go, The Wife of Monte Cristo is about as good as it gets and has several features that set it apart. First, Lenore Aubert is superb as the countess. Aubert, an Austrian war refugee who fled Europe with her Jewish husband, acted in several films throughout the forties, including Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, in which she played Wilbur’s unlikely love interest, Dr. Sandra Mornay.

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Aubert is equally at home in both countess and avenger get-up, and the film never sells her with a wink and a nod. True enough, in the end, the count comes to her rescue, but only after she has already come to his. She’s shown to be smart, resourceful, and brave. A straight-up hero, not a girl hero.

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Second, the score is good. It fits snugly, but never gets in the way or overpowers what’s happening on the screen.

And, finally, the supporting performances are all good as well, including a turn by Eva Gabor. Nothing special about that except on a personal level. Seeing her in this movie gave me sort of a “small world” moment as the previous movie I watched, Roman Holiday, had Eddie Albert in.

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