Harry Baur, who in the 1930s was the most distinguished character actor in Europe, was the star of the 1936 French historical epic Tarass Boulba. Based on a story by Gogol, the film depicted the 16th century struggle between the Poles and the Russian Cossacks, with emphasis on the rift between Tartar leader Tarass Boulba and his scholarly son. The film did well enough on the continent to prompt an English-language version in 1939, The Rebel Son, which also starred Harry Baur. The film utilized generous portions of the 1936 French production; the result was a hodgepodge of contrasting styles. Andre Brunel, director of the English version, failed to properly match the film work of the original French version's director Alexis Granowsky; in turn, the additional scenes directed by an uncredited Albert de Coureville bore little relation to Brunel's work. Even at 88 minutes, The Rebel Son was tough sledding, with many filmgoers walking out after half an hour. In desperation, the British distributors pared the film down to 70 minutes and shipped it out to double bills under the title The Barbarian and the Lady (the "lady" in the film is the girlfriend of barbarian Tarass Boulba's son--the daughter of his hated rival). Despite the utter failure of this enterprise, producer Samuel Bronston had another go at the Gogal original with his 1962 production Taras Bulba, starring Yul Brynner and Tony Curtis.
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