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Dangerous Beauty (Ws) [DVD] [1999] [US Import]

Catherine McCormack , Rufus Sewell , Marshall Herskovitz    DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Actors: Catherine McCormack, Rufus Sewell, Oliver Platt, Fred Ward, Naomi Watts
  • Directors: Marshall Herskovitz
  • Writers: Jeannine Dominy, Margaret Rosenthal
  • Producers: Marshall Herskovitz, Arnon Milchan, Debra Lovatelli, Edward Zwick, Inigo Lezzi
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Colour, Dolby, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Widescreen, PAL
  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: R (Restricted) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: 27 Oct 1998
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305078319
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 182,243 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Although it was unfortunately ignored during its brief theatrical release, this sumptuously seductive production is that rarest of cinematic breeds, the (barely) respectable guilty pleasure. Combining historical fact with hysterical anachronisms of language and mannerism, it's been tailored for maximum contemporary appeal but maintains a lush, romantic feel for its factual 16th-century tale of Venetian love, lust, and political repression. Catherine McCormack (Mel Gibson's ill-fated bride in Braveheart) delivers a star-making performance as the "dangerous beauty" who becomes a skillful courtesan to pursue her forbidden love for a dashing Venetian senator (Rufus Sewell). It's all rather silly in a high-toned fashion, and the film turns dour when the church intervenes with a Scarlet Letter-like papal inquest. But the movie's joyously ribald vitality is utterly irresistible, and the casting of McCormack with Jaqueline Bisset (as her mother and courtesan mentor) is a stroke of pure genius. Merchant-Ivory would've made a smarter film from this material, but it probably wouldn't be nearly as entertaining. --Jeff Shannon

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
I really don't know why this film has three titles! What I can tell you is that it is a beautifully produced picture of life in 16th Century Venice. If you love Venice you can't miss this! Especially if you love the "Carnivale" there because this is such a visual treat with masses of gorgeous frocks! On a more serious note it is also the almost true life story of the amazing Veronica Franco, a woman of talent, education and spirit who was a poetess and powerful courtesan. Her profession was not of her choice but rather expected of her because of her class and the joy of the story is that her constant love for one man was not impinged upon at all by the nature it, nor his for her.

The opening credits give a sunny, colourful picture of Venice of the time but I felt that the drama itself took a little time to warm up and for the characters to settle into their parts convincingly. Once it gets off the ground though it is memorable, with many fine cameo parts by a galaxy of good actors. The courtroom scene was full of suspense and made a riveting climax. Although Veronica is given the philosophy of a modern feminist to expound in this scene, one wonders if the real truth is that she inspired love in the hearts of so many of her admirers that she would have survived if she had said nothing at all!

I have been waiting for this on DVD for ages - but all those titles made it difficult to find! Must rush off and book a visit to Venice.....
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding swashbuckler 24 Aug 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic, passionate romp of a film. A great, sweeping swashbuckler of a romance - with a twist: the swashbuckler in question is a woman. A film for true romantics and lovers of good old fashioned adventure stories.
The central lead played by Catherine McCormack, is an extremely intelligent, brave beautiful young woman in renaissance Venice. Coerced into the role of Courtesan she plays the part with honour and independence of mind.
One of my top three films of last year (along with American Beauty and Saving Grace, for anyone who wants to know). Its just so DIFFERENT from the mindless violence type of adventure offered up by Hollywood. It has a real feel of fantastic early cinema - Imagine an Errol Flyn film blended with a great Katherine Hepburn movie and you'll have a pretty good idea of what you're in for.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A true guilty pleasure! 10 April 2009
By Roman Clodia TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This film claims it is a true story at the start, but it's a very dubious version of the real Veronica Franco's story. Despite that, however, it is a glorious romp of a movie, at least for the first two thirds. Filmed in a sort of golden 'Renaissance' light like Italian paintings come to life, it wallows in its own glorious decadence. The beautiful Veronica, unable to marry her love since her family can't afford a dowry, instead becomes a courtesan, trained by her mother, and rises in Venetian society. Full of seductive garden parties, Venetian salons, poetry competitions and the allure of sex, this part of the film works wonderfully.

The problem comes when the film attempts to deconstruct the glamorous side of being a courtesan, which is, after all, just a prostitute dressed up in beautiful clothes and accomplishments. Veronica's struggle, and her trial under the Venetian inquisition, takes the film into a darker arena that sits very uncomfortably with the first half. It's not well-written enough to really engage with this, and the Hollywood treatement of her release spoiled everything that had gone earlier.

The real Veronica Franco was far, far more fascinating than this film makes out, and didn't, of course, have the same kind of Hollywoood romantic gloss to her life. Rosenthal's The Honest Courtesan: Veronica Franco, Citizen and Writer in Sixteenth-century Venice (Women in Culture & Society), the first full-length study of Franco in English, was cited as the base of this film.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Venice at it's most exquisite 14 Feb 2003
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
This delightful film has quickly become a firm favourite.
The story is light & fun but based on a true story which encourages you to think & raises some interesting questions. Much of the scriptwriting is closely linked to the writing of the heroine (which I was prompted to read after watching this film). I have enjoyed this film on many levels.
The story is compelling as you step inside the lives of women in 15th century Europe where the only women allowed inside a library were women. Where women played a key role as courtesans or mistresses in the affairs of state but were so limited in assuring their own safety & futures. It does not glamorise the role of a courtesan but highlights the limited options for spirited women at the time.
The tensions between the church & women are still relevant today, and it is interesting to see how the views on women at this period, when the Bible was first made available to the people (through the reformation) have influenced its current (mis)interpretation.
There are also beautiful scenes which transport you to how Venice would have looked during this time, with the unique architecture, beautiful costumes & contrasting opulance with poverty.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining story
Another excellent story, recommended by Amazon and taken up on that recommendation. Very entertaining.
Published 20 hours ago by soso
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
thank you fantastic movie
Published 2 days ago by lucia santini
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful film
Got hooked into watching this when it was shown in the middle of the night on Channel4 Stayed up to silly o' clock because of it It is a truly beautiful film In my ignorance, did... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ali H
5.0 out of 5 stars you simply mud love it
what a wonderful movie...the story is rather interesting ... as it tells a lot of actual history in a great , entreating and amusing movie... Read more
Published 2 months ago by H.A.B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Dangerous Beauty
Love the film. Is beautiful film with lot of drama and love. Veronica is a beautiful young girl who makes a alternative life as a courtesan. A film you must see.
Published 3 months ago by Ulla Winther Larsen
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay film
Okay film. Lovely costumes, the plot a little bit predictable. Interesting perspective but a little bit mundane in parts. Worth a watch if you like period drama.
Published 4 months ago by sam66
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully acted with a great cast!!
If you like you period movies and drama, you'll like the honest courtesan / dangerous beauty.
Originally brought years ago on VHS, the transition to DVD has made the picture... Read more
Published 4 months ago by V. Backhouse
5.0 out of 5 stars dangerous indeed
when was there ever an honest courtesan ????,but yes I loved the film glad that I bought it great buy it
Published 4 months ago by dave wolstenholme
5.0 out of 5 stars The Honest Courtesan DVD
This was ordered for a friend who loves all of these l7th/18th century type films and she was very pleased with it.
Published 7 months ago by Thurn
4.0 out of 5 stars beautiful movie
I love this movie, totally suggested to everyone with a romantic soul and historic settings.
Based on a true story
Published 7 months ago by Sabrina Dodich
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