The Affairs of Cellini | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The Affairs of Cellini 

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Produced by Darryl Zanuck for the fledgling 20th Century studios, this inspired wisp of Hollywood candyfloss (1934, 80 min.) opens with the absurd spectacle of dithering Frank Morgan--the wonderful Wizard of Oz--playing Alessandro de' Medici, tyrannical duke of Renaissance Florence. The duke's cousin (an impeccably droll Louis Calhern) urges him to do away with roguish master goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini (Fredric March), who himself is not averse to killing those who annoy him. While Cellini tries to save his neck by charming the strong-willed duchess (Constance Bennett), the duke hatches a scheme to seduce Cellini's beloved Angela, a pouting, dim-witted beauty played by Fay Wray. Gregory La Cava (My Man Godfrey, Stage Door), a master of light comedy who's never gotten his due, directed a witty and fast-paced script adapted from Edwin Justus Mayer's play The Firebrand; the elegant score is by Alfred Newman. Also on the program: chapter five of the 1942 serial Spy Smasher. LaSalle Theatre, LaSalle Bank, 4901 W. Irving Park, Saturday, February 8, 8:00, 312-904-9442.

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