For Reel

Destiny (1944)
September 3, 2016, 4:30 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , ,

Director(s): Reginald Le Borg & Julien Duvivier
2.5 Stars
DestinyThis hugely bizarre drama was originally imagined as the first of four stories in Julien Duvivier’s Flesh and Fantasy. That audience’s responses were so favorable to the film and this chapter in particular inspired Universal Pictures to expand on the short and release it as its own feature, enlisting director Reginald de Borg and screenwriter Roy Chanslor for the task of fattening up the paltry material. Duvivier is such a specific and deliberate visual stylist that the scenes he originally shot are completely apparent—a climactic nightmare sequence is staged in the tradition of French impressionism, recalling Jean Epstein’s emphasis on the fury of natural forces at the end of the The Fall of the House of Usher. Unfortunately, what is evident as being the added material plays as little more than unneeded fluff, attempting to flesh out Alan Curtis’ fugitive with little success. There is an undeniable pleasure in the way Duvivier stages the supernatural qualities had by Gloria Jean’s blind girl (animals literally flock to her at every opportunity), but both the lengthened first act and a hilariously inappropriate tacked-on ending do much to break the spell. John Cromwell’s The Enchanted Cottage is a better place to look if searching for a blend of the fantastical and everyday, also involving a supernatural intrusion into what otherwise plays as a romantic melodrama.

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