The Magnificent Fraud


1h 18m 1939

Film Details

Also Known As
Caviar for His Excellency, The World's Applause
Release Date
Jul 21, 1939
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
San Diego, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

On New Year's Eve, on board an airplane bound for the small South American of San Cristobal, are Harrison Todd and his fiancée, Claire Hill, chaperoned by her aunt, Geraldine "Jerry" Genet. Todd is a banker, entrusted with finalizing a $10,000,000 American loan to the government of San Cristobal, which is headed by Don Miguel Esteban Alvarado, known as "El Toro." Meanwhile, inside the Cafe Cristobal, the evening's revels are reaching a crescendo as the dancer Carmelita performs until she grows jealous over the attentions of Sam Barr to a blonde at his table. Barr, a native of Chicago, is the President's right hand man, but his toast to Alvarado is interrupted by an explosion at the presidential palace which fatally injures Alvarado. Barr goes to the bedside of the dying Alvarado, and promises to insure that he will be succeeded by Dr. Luis Virgo, and not Mendietta Garcia or General Pablo Hernandez Gomez, the Ministers of Finance and War. To insure an American loan, Barr sends for Jules La Croix, an actor whose performance as Cyrano and Napoleon was part of the show at the Cafe Cristobal. Barr convinces Garcia and Hernandez to agree to have La Croix imitate Alvarado until Todd finalizes the loan. La Croix observes Alvarado before he dies, and then imitates him in a speech to sooth the worried crowd, proving that their president is only wounded. The next morning, Claire and Todd arrive, and Jerry reveals that she was once Alvarado's mistress when she sang in the opera in Spain. To maintain his ruse, La Croix renews his romance with Jerry, and Barr becomes attracted to Claire. Duval of the French Surete, who had been about to arrest La Croix for a politician's murder committed in France seven years before, informs Virgo that he is suspicious that La Croix is impersonating Alvarado. La Croix agrees to sign the loan at the great ball to celebrate Alvarado's 69th birthday and his thirtieth anniversary as president. Before the ball, however, Hernandez orders Barr arrested, hoping to force La Croix to resign and designate the General to succeed him. While the crowd still believes him to be Alvarado, La Croix names Dr. Virgo to follow him, and denounces Garcia and Hernandez as traitors. This prompts Hernandez to shoot La Croix, and in the melee, Hernandez is also killed. Jerry reveals to the dying actor that she knew he was a fraud, but loved him anyway. Claire rushes to the jail just as Ruiz, Hernandez's henchman, plans to kill Barr, but it was Santiago, Alvarado's assassin, who is shot instead. Barr is then freed and joins Claire in admiring a statue of Alvarado newly erected to celebrate his thirty years as president. Barr tells Duval that the body of La Croix belongs not to France but to San Cristobal, the actor's adopted country, for which he gave his life.

Film Details

Also Known As
Caviar for His Excellency, The World's Applause
Release Date
Jul 21, 1939
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
San Diego, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of this film were The World's Applause and Caviar for His Excellency. According to the shooting script, the part of "Duval", played by Ernest Cossart, was originally set for Gene Lockhart, and that of "Ruiz," played by Abner Biberman, for Anthony Quinn. A pre-production news item in Hollywood Reporter adds that George Raft and Isa Miranda were to star in this film. Advertisements emphasized Akim Tamiroff as "The Man of a Thousand Faces," and also pictured him as the actor Jules La Croix playing King Henry VIII, Cyrano and Napoleon. According to contemporary sources, exteriors of "San Cristobal" and the grounds around the presidential palace were shot at Balboa Park in San Diego, CA. and the company returned after principal photography for a week of retakes. An actual 22-foot statue of Tamiroff as Alvarado was commissioned from Albert Sylva, Paramount sculptor. In South American countries, The Magnificent Fraud was released under the translation of the title of the unpublished Charles G. Booth story on which it was based, Caviare para su exelencia. Actress Virginia Dabney and director Robert Florey were married shortly after this film was released. Dabney later married actor Lloyd Nolan in the 1980s after both were widowed. The 1988 Universal film Moon Over Parador, directed by Paul Mazursky and starring Richard Dreyfuss has a similar plot to that of The Magnificent Fraud.