For, July 4, 2014

"Forever Amber" (1947) is one of those movies people used to ask me about with some frequency in the late 1980s and early '90s. Then it finally came out on VHS in 1994 and I didn't hear anyone ask about it again until the past decade or so as it became apparent that Twentieth Century Fox would never give it a DVD release.

But then the studio finally established its Fox Cinema Archives manufacture-on-demand label (after the success of Warner Archive's model), so surely "Forever Amber" would be among the first titles. Nope. I was repeatedly surprised when cycle after cycle this one was left out.

But it's here now. "Forever Amber" has finally been released in the latest cycle from Fox Cinema Archives.

Linda Darnell, her brunette locks bleached blond, has the title role as Amber St. Clair. She is left as an orphan on a farmer's doorstep in the mid-1600s, then grows up to want more than the rural life.


              Cornel Wilde, Linda Darnell, 'Forever Amber'

So when the opportunity presents itself, she pursues a cavalier (Cornel Wilde) to London and they have a romance before he eventually leaves her to return to the sea. She has his baby, finds herself in dire straits and eventually has a string of affairs before her true love returns.

The 1944 novel "Forever Amber" by Kathleen Winsor was a bestseller in its day — more than 3 million copies. But it was also the subject of controversy, banned in several states and condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency.

Needless to say, the Hays office wasn't too keen on Fox making it into a movie, especially after complaints and threats of boycotts by the Legion. So concessions were made and the character was softened — although by 1947 standards this is still fairly racy stuff.


Darnell is very good in the lead, and besides Wilde, the supporting cast includes George Sanders, Jessica Tandy, Richard Greene, John Russell, Leo G. Carroll and other familiar faces.

And Fox went all out, filming it in color with lavish sets and opulent costumes of the first order.

The result is a film that remains quite entertaining.