The Private Life Of Don Juan

  • 1934
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Adventure, Biography, Romance

In his last film, the great Fairbanks plays Don Juan, now middle-aged, as he returns to the site of his earlier conquests, Seville. Soon after his arrival Fairbanks learns that a young impostor has been passing himself off as Don Juan and fulfilling the romantic fantasies of the bored local housewives. Seeking to reclaim his reputation, Fairbanks engages...read more

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In his last film, the great Fairbanks plays Don Juan, now middle-aged, as he returns to the site of his earlier conquests, Seville. Soon after his arrival Fairbanks learns that a young impostor has been passing himself off as Don Juan and fulfilling the romantic fantasies of the bored

local housewives. Seeking to reclaim his reputation, Fairbanks engages in an affair with Oberon, a gorgeous dancer. Unfortunately, Fairbanks' doctor advises the lover to stop his overly physical activities lest he lose his health. Fairbanks seriously considers that suggestion, since his wife,

Hume, has been advising the same. That night the false Don Juan is killed by a jealous husband, giving Fairbanks an opportunity to attend his own funeral and retire. Escaping to the country, Fairbanks adopts an alias but finds that after six months of trying, he cannot seduce women unless he tells

them he is Don Juan. Desperate to revive his career, Fairbanks returns to Seville and announces that he is the real Don Juan and that an impostor is buried in his grave. The women, of course, refuse to believe this middle-aged man is the world's greatest lover. In an effort to prove his identity,

Fairbanks interrupts the opening night of a play based on his life and demands to be recognized as Don Juan. The audience turns to Hume for confirmation and she declares the man an impostor. Finally beaten by his wife, Fairbanks agrees to settle down forever. Seeking to recapture the same audience

that attended THE PRIVATE LIFE OF HENRY THE VIII (1933), producer-director Korda employed the aging Fairbanks in a vain attempt to recapture the image of the swashbuckling hero that had once wooed millions. It was a mistake for Fairbanks to attempt such romantic material, however; by this time, he

was all swash and very little buckle. He'd gained weight, lost a great deal of hair, and was showing his age (51). Fairbanks' age wasn't the only problem with THE PRIVATE LIFE OF DON JUAN; the script suffered from the patchwork typical of Korda's films. The creative team of Arthur Wimperis, Lajos

Biro, and Korda came up with a few scenes that they considered to be the crux of the film and then they turned those ideas over to English playwright Lonsdale, who was hired to "fill in" the story between those crucial scenes. Writing by committee nearly always results in an uneven, disjointed

product and THE PRIVATE LIFE OF DON JUAN is no exception. The film is confused and repetitive, the dialog frequently ridiculous, and the few well-developed scenes seem almost incongruous when compared to the whole. As a result the film bombed at the box office. Fairbanks was separated from Mary

Pickford when he went to England to make the film, and they divorced two years later. Two months after the ink on his divorce was dry, Fairbanks married Lady Sylvia Ashley, a former chorus girl, and announced his retirement. He died of a heart attack three years later.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: In his last film, the great Fairbanks plays Don Juan, now middle-aged, as he returns to the site of his earlier conquests, Seville. Soon after his arrival Fairbanks learns that a young impostor has been passing himself off as Don Juan and fulfilling the ro… (more)

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