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In 1802, Baltimore lawyer Albion Hamlin travels to Cap François, Haiti, to obtain the signature of Lydia Bailey, whose late father left his large estate to the United States government. Despite being cautioned that Haiti is in turmoil due to the current political climate, Albion is excited about his adventure. Upon reaching the American consulate, Albion is informed that because Napolean Bonaparte desires to reclaim Haiti, which has struggled for independence, rival forces on the island make it unsafe for any white person--French or American--to remain. Albion is determined to find Lydia, however, and so the consul, who is moving the consulate to a ship anchored in the harbor, tells him that she will be with Col. Gabriel D'Autremont, the wealthy French aristocrat who is her fiancé. After leaving the consulate, Albion is horrified when his young guide, Nero, is killed by men trying to steal his luggage. Albion then reaches the D'Autremont townhome and learns that the family and Lydia are in residence at their country chateau, far inland. Before he can continue, Albion is knocked unconscious, and upon awakening, learns that his assailant was the man who had helped him earlier when Nero was killed. The educated, sophisticated man, who supports revolutionary leader Toussaint L'Ouverture, introduces himself as King Dick and explains to Albion that D'Autremont is allied with Napoleon. King Dick also explains that the chateau can only be reached through territory controlled by the vicious Mirabeau, whose mulatto followers kill anyone they see, black or white. Albion decides to go anyway, and King Dick, for reasons he does not explain, offers to guide him. King Dick's eight wives use a dark stain to disguise Albion as a mulatto field hand, but they are soon captured by Mirabeau and his men. Albion escapes, however, and reaches the D'Autremont plantation, where he is stunned by the sight of the beautiful Lydia. After removing his disguise, Albion explains his mission to Lydia, who angrily declares that she cares nothing for her father's estate, as he abandoned her and her mother when she was a child. Although he is frustrated by Lydia's refusal to sign the documents, Albion quickly finds himself falling in love with her. Their discussion is interrupted by the appearance of King Dick, who escaped from Mirabeau and pretends to be Albion's servant. D'Autremont, a widower who is devoted to his young son, is suspicious of King Dick's sudden arrival, but lets him stay. Later that night, while the others watch a voodoo ceremony, D'Autremont meets with La Plume, a black general who agrees to ally himself with the French. Meanwhile, Lydia consents to sign Albion's documents if he takes her maid Marie with him to the United States, where her sweetheart now lives. Albion is touched by Lydia's compassion, but is again interrupted from expressing his feelings when King Dick kills the traitorous La Plume. Albion and King Dick flee together, and D'Autremont leaves his family to go to Cap Francois, where he meets Gen. Charles LeClerc, Napoleon's brother-in-law, and his wife, Pauline Bonaparte. Soon, Napoleon's troops arrive and battles rage throughout Haiti as Toussaint's forces fight the French and Mirabeau's men ravage the countryside. When Albion learns that Mirabeau is headed toward the chateau, he parts company with King Dick and reaches the house in time to rescue Lydia, Marie and D'Autremont's son Paul. Albion again stains his skin, as well as Lydia's and Paul's, so that they can travel undetected with a group of black refugees going to Cap Francois. Mirabeau learns of their disguise, however, and pursues them to a deep gorge. Although Lydia, Paul and Marie make it safely across, Albion is forced to jump into the water far below. Lydia is rescued by D'Autremont and other French soldiers, but is distraught to think that Albion died while protecting her. Fortunately, Albion is found by Toussaint's men, including King Dick, and nursed back to health. In town, D'Autremont introduces Lydia to Pauline and LeClerc, and despite Lydia's contempt for the decadent Pauline, the aristocrat is amused by tales of her adventures with Albion. As time passes, LeClerc offers to meet with Toussaint under a flag of truce to discuss peace terms. Lydia is horrified when LeClerc reveals his plot to capture Toussaint during the meeting, while, at their encampment, Albion, fearing that the meeting is a trap, advises Toussaint not to go. Toussaint agrees and sends Albion in his place, but D'Autremont, jealous of Lydia's joy at seeing Albion, requests that he be killed. Pauline demurs and instead orders D'Autremont to escort Albion to the American consul ship. At the dock, King Dick rescues Albion, while Toussaint, learning of LeClerc's treachery, sends in his soldiers. As the battle sweeps through the town, Albion goes to the townhouse to find Lydia, without realizing that he is being followed by D'Autremont. The infuriated Frenchman attempts to shoot Albion but instead hits Paul and kills him. Grief-stricken, D'Autremont holds his son's body as the house burns down around him and Lydia escapes with Albion. Rushing with Lydia to the docks, Albion finds King Dick waiting for them with a rowboat to take them to the American ship. They thank King Dick for his help, and he urges them to return someday, when Haiti has its freedom.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||World premiere in Port au Prince, Haiti: 4 May 1952; New York opening: 30 May 1952; Los Angeles opening: 28 Jun 1952|
|Release Date:||1952||Production Date:||
EBXX; UCLA* has 35mm print R-FB0000057109, M18478;
|Color/B&W:||Color (Technicolor)||Distributions Co:||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.|
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Grace L. FrankHerman 2010-05-21
A student of Toussaint L'Ouverture and the 19th century Haitian revolution's impact on the United States; I read about LYDIA BAILEY in one of...
Lydia Bailey, Where are You?
As an adolescent in the 1950s, I saw "Lydia Bailey". The film left an impression in my mind. My search for it precedes the recent tragic events...
TCM please find a print and show this film. SOON
Matt S 2010-01-15
Events od theis week call for this. As a kid/movie fan I was impressed by this film. Where can we write to have FOX open its vault to film fans?