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Swashbuckling good films from '30s, '40s: Kenneth Turan's DVD pick

April 26, 2012 | 10:00 am

Who doesn't love a good swashbuckler, complete with flashing swords, romantic couples and all manner of derring-do? Hen's Tooth Video, which specializes in the hard to find, has brought back a trio of classics, all based on the works of Alexandre Dumas.

The most familiar title is the 1934 "The Count of Monte Cristo," directed by Rowland V. Lee and starring the elegant Robert Donat as the unfortunate Edmond Dantes and Elissa Landi as the woman in his life. If revenge is a dish best served cold, this story takes the cake.

Almost as well known is 1939's "The Man in the Iron Mask," directed by James Whale, best known for "Frankenstein." Louis Hayward plays both the French King Louis XIV and his separated-at-birth twin, with Joan Bennett taking on Princess Maria Theresa.

The most recent of the trio is 1941's "The Corsican Brothers," starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in another tale involving twins. Veteran players Ruth Warrick, Akim Tamiroff, J. Carrol Naish, H.B. Warner and Henry Wilcoxon round out the cast, with Gregory Ratoff directing.

If you like action not of the swashbuckling variety, Hen's Tooth is also bringing out the 1936 adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper's classic "The Last of the Mohicans" with Randolph Scott doing the honors as the intrepid Hawkeye.


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-- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times film critic