Review by Ann McDonald
1660, England. Amber St. Clair aims to raise herself from a country girl to nobility, and succeeds, but loses her true love in the process.
Amber St. Clair (Linda Darnell) plays a foundling reared by a puritan family. She has come of age to be married and it is being arranged when soldiers of fortune arrive at the door, seeking a doctor for a wounded companion. They are instructed to make their way to the local tavern and Amber refuses point blank to wed any one and is sent to her room. She eventually escapes to the tavern where she makes herself known to the leader of the group, Bruce Carlton (Cornel Wilde). She implores them to take her with them to London but they refuse and leave without her. She is determined to get there and she ends up at Carlton’s lodgings, having overheard their destination.
And so it is, her adventures and misadventures begin. She is enthralled with the magic of London but when Carlton is paid by the King for services rendered, he is told that it is on condition that he takes the ships and leaves England for a long absence. He leaves Amber some money and departs along with his friend Almsbury. London is full of lowlifes and those who would take advantage and they do. The London background is impressive as is Newgate prison where she ends up. While there, she makes friends with a highway man and shortly afterwards, they escape together, just in time for Amber to give birth to a baby boy (Don’t ask but continuity is long gone at this stage).
She has many escapades and alliances with different men and eventually catches the eye of King Charles II himself and becomes his mistress. The dramatic background scenes are exciting. The first being the great fire of London followed by the Black Plague which, thankfully, doesn’t show any gruesome closeups of any of the victims. The costume and set designs are flawless and the actors played their respective roles competently. Linda Darnell portrayed Amber St. Clair with great energy while Richard Greene played Almsbury with great panache. George Sanders as King Charles II developed a wonderful character but Cornel Wilde as Bruce Carlton was very wooden, or should I say, stoic. Not much passion in his performance, in fact he left me feeling cold.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie for the more simple times and audiences this was made for and I felt just a hint of nostalgia. It will bring back good memories for many. Naughty but nice. Recommended.
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