De Lesseps is a young aristocrat who conceives the idea for the Suez Canal. When Napoleon fails him, the British show interest. Though the production values make the film entertaining its historical content is generally agreed to be awful.
Tyrone Power ... Ferdinand de Lesseps
Loretta Young ... Countess Eugenie de Montijo
Annabella ... Toni Pellerin
J. Edward Bromberg ... Prince Said
Joseph Schildkraut ... Vicomte Rene De Latour
Henry Stephenson ... Count Mathieu de Lesseps
Sidney Blackmer ... Marquis Du Brey
Maurice Moscovitch ... Mohammed Ali (as Maurice Moscovich)
Sig Ruman ... Sergeant Pellerin (as Sig Rumann)
Nigel Bruce ... Sir Malcolm Cameron
Miles Mander ... Benjamin Disraeli
George Zucco ... Prime Minister
Leon Ames ... Louis Napoleon
Rafaela Ottiano ... Maria De Teba
There could never be a product like this turned out today. The people are just not out there - at least not in the picture business.
Zanuck expressed the opinion that Annabella was the only one of Power's wives good enough for Power. Zanuck was never one to always hit it exactly right on the head but he got it right with this one. Watch these two in this - it's a union of giants!
Loretta Young !!!! Just plainly the most beautiful woman who ever lived. If Eugenie was one tenth this beautiful she deserved to wear a crown and live a hundred years, as the fortune teller predicted, and as Eugenie in fact did. Even Power's co-stars Madeleine Carroll in LLOYDS OF LONDON and Gene Tierney/Frances Farmer in SON OF FURY, ravishing as they all were, were not Young's equal.
Victoria was badmouthed as too prim and proper but according to Zanuck she must have walked out on a few wires or otherwise there would have been some holdups on both the Suez Canal and the telephone (see ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL).
There are so many elements in this that represent the very pinnacle of moviemaking that it would be gilding the lily to begin to enumerate them. We can but savor this thankfully as a flawless treasure; an example of the American commercial movie as an art form in the consummate sense.
Tyrone Power plays the beleaguered Ferdinand de Lesseps in this big-budget retelling of the building of the Suez canal, appropriately called "Suez." Power, a huge star, was so often involved in these big budget films, truly the "Airport"-type movies of their day, that the poor man ended up taking part in the Chicago fire, the Suez sandstorm, and an Indian earthquake! Loretta Young is again his costar, this time as Eugenie, and she is her usual gorgeous self in magnificent gowns. The two made a ravishing couple - and in real life, he once called her on a Saturday night, lamenting that despite their big stardoms, they were dateless on date night, and asked her to a movie in Westwood.
The third prong of the love triangle is Annabella, a marvelous actress who became Power's first wife - and they were most definitely the Brangelina of their day! Unfortunately, Zanuck was so furious that his star broke the hearts of millions of women by marrying, that Annabella was blackballed. It's a shame, because on a radio retelling of "Rage of Manhattan" with Power, her fabulous acting is evident. Pity there were not more opportunities for her.
"Suez" is a little slow-going and nobody ages except for the touch of gray given Power, but the windstorm is magnificent. Power, who was only 23-24 at the time of filming, does a wonderful job, and is certainly up to his dramatic scenes. The later one with Annabella is most touching. The next to final shot of him receiving his award from Eugenie is memorable, as he walks, in a half bow, down the stairs backwards. Finally, the "Queen Christina" type close-up of Power's amazing face must last three minutes, but I could have stared at it for another hour.
All in all and despite the fact that it is probably the most historically inaccurate real-life story ever filmed, "Suez" is worth the watch, especially for the effects, done without computer generation and blue screens.
Enjoyable on every level, Tyrone Power is magnificent. Intriguing storyline rooted in history...they don't make 'em like this anymore! The cinematography is ahead of its time, the actors are perfect for their roles and the movie itself is timeless. If you are a Tyrone Power fan you will not be disappointed in this film. It's hard to find, but worth it if you can find it. I didn't think I would enjoy a movie from the 30's as I'm more a fan of the 40's and above, but once I started watching this film I couldn't look away. Of course, the fact that it's Tyrone Power and he's the most striking looking man of his time doesn't hurt either!
SUEZ is a stodgy romantic drama, a highly fictionalized biographical account of the builder of the Suez canal. It's got some nice costuming (for Loretta Young especially), some decent performances (Tyrone Power does nicely in the leading role and Annabella has a certain exotic charm), and the big storm scene is extremely well done as far as special effects go.
But it's all for nothing, as far as entertainment values go. And it takes an interminable time for the plot to be resolved. It goes on and on at great length without making any sort of impression as a reasonably faithful biography of the man. The romance between Power, Young and Annabella seems no more than a cardboard romantic triangle such as the kind Hollywood often invented for biographies. (As, for example, in the Bronte biography, DEVOTION).
As historical drama, it's flimsy. Only the most faithful fans of Power and Loretta Young (both of whom are attractively photographed for maximum glamor) will really be satisfied with this one. All of the production elements are there, but the end result is not quite what audiences expected.