Alexandre Duma's sweeping 19th century classic novel of betrayal, imprisonment, and exquisite revenge has been filmed more than two dozen times from 1908 on, if we count French, Italian, German, Mexican, and Russian versions, pastiches such as "Sword of," "Wife of," "Son of," "Return of," and even several comedy versions titled "The Countess of Monte Cristo" (one with Sonja Henie on ice!). Perhaps the best known American version is the 1975 TV movie with Richard Chamberlain. Director Kevin Reynolds (at the helm for two of Costner's failed epics) and first-time feature writer Jay Wolpert offer an old-fashioned, lump-in-the-throat retelling whose swashbuckling, sets, and locations (with Ireland and Malta standing in for France and Italy) nearly overwhelm the valiant efforts of the actors. Young sailor Edmond Dantes (Caviezel) is betrayed by his unscrupulous nobleman friend Fernand Mondego (Pearce), who marries Edmond's fiancee after our hero is sent to prison and reported executed. For nearly 15 years, Edmond plans his vengeance upon Mondego and the others who put him away. It's a terrific tale of swordplay, piracy, mysterious fortunes, secrets, and final reckonings, though as seems inevitable, much of the novel is left out. Richard Harris has a magnificent turn as a long-time prisoner who takes Edmond in hand and teaches him the ropes.
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The review of this Movie prepared by David Loftus