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Monday, December 6, 2010

The Private Life of Don Juan (released in 1934) - Starring Douglas Fairbanks and Merle Oberon

Just imagine Don Juan suffering a midlife crisis and returning to domesticity? This Douglas Fairbanks starer portrays the life of Don Juan after age and sluggishness has caught up with him. The Private Life of Don Juan is a film about the life of an aging Don Juan, based on the 1920 play L'homme à la Rose by Henry Bataille.
The sleepy town of Seville is abuzz with rumors of the arrival of Don Juan and this sends all husbands in to a tizzy. They lock their wives, barricade balconies and are suspicious of all. But Don Juan is a tired old man yearning for the rest cure. He arrives in Seville incognito but is soon discovered, thanks to a sword fight at the inn. His wife Dona Dolores threatens to send him to prison if he does not apologize for his earlier affairs. But don Juan does not accept the truce and walks away.
But to his irritation he is followed by the ardent admirer, Rodrigo who wants to be just like him. Rodrigo asks him to teach him the art of seduction and also accepts that he was playing the part of Don Juan in secret fueling the rumors of his comeback. But his instructions are cut short when a jealous husband, Don Alfonso, kills Rodrigo, believing him to be Don Juan. The news spread far and wide that Don Juan is killed. As the whole town mourn him, Juan disguises himself as Captain Mariano and retire from the social life. He attend his magnificent funeral where woman mourn the loss of romance and his attentions.

But Don Juan is a born socialite and he gets tired of his sedate existence. He breaks his secret to a tavern maid, Rosita and to his dismay is rebuffed. He tries his luck climbing up the balcony of another attractive girl and is sent as a messenger boy to her lover in the rain. He also tries to turn on his actress friend Antonita, but is discarded in favor of a rich duke. Stunned by the rejection Don Juan attends a play commemorating his life and declares himself alive during the performance. He again is laughed at and thrown out of the the theater. Don, totally rejected reaches an inn where a middle-aged lady proposes to him, making him think of his wife Dona Dolores. He meets her and begs her to take him back.
She initially does not believe him, but takes him home. She then makes him woo her through the balcony and takes him back saying “Every woman wants more than a husband. Every woman wants Don Juan for herself."
This movie is the last performance of Douglas Fairbanks in a silent movie. An end of an era, Fairbanks was the apt choice of the middle aged Don Juan as age was diminishing his capabilities in real life too. The viewer is treated to the vagaries nature inflicts on human life as age and wisdom creeps up to him. A good movie to watch and cherish of memories beyond the sands of time.

The Private Life of Don Juan (released in 1934) - Starring Douglas Fairbanks and Merle Oberon

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