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A Fool's Revenge (1909)

 -  Short | Drama  -  4 March 1909 (USA)
5.4
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Ratings: 5.4/10 from 13 users  
Reviews: 2 user

A court fool believes the Duke is after his beautiful daughter, and arranges to have the Duke murdered. The daughter overhears the plot and, disguised in the Duke's cloak, sacrifices her life to save him.

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Title: A Fool's Revenge (1909)

A Fool's Revenge (1909) on IMDb 5.4/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
Owen Moore ...
The Duke
Charles Inslee ...
The Fool
Marion Leonard ...
The Daughter
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Linda Arvidson ...
At Court
John R. Cumpson ...
At Court
Raymond Hatton ...
At Court (unconfirmed)
Anita Hendrie ...
Fool's Accomplice
Arthur V. Johnson ...
At Court
Fred Mace
David Miles ...
At Court
Vivian Prescott
Herbert Prior ...
Fool's Accomplice (unconfirmed)
...
Minstrel / Servant
Harry Solter ...
At Court
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Storyline

A free adaptation of the story of Rigoletto. The Biograph here holds up to your pity a court-fool, whose inordinate love for his child prompted him to plan vengeance which reverted upon himself. The Duke suffers from melancholia and his courtiers are at wits' end to dissipate his ennui. Diversion of all sorts are brought, but without success, until at last they decide to abduct the pretty daughter of the fool and bring her to the Duke. This is effected, and when the Duke sees her he falls deeply in love with her, but her pure innocence instills in him a higher, holier devotion than he was accustomed to experience, so he harkens to her plea, and throwing his cloak about her, sees her safely home. This is witnessed by the fool, who is in hiding, and misjudging the Duke's attitude, vows vengeance. To this end he enlists the services of a nomad couple who are dwelling in a hut not far off. He bargains with them that to kill the man he shall point out he will pay them five hundred louis. ... Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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based on novel | See All (1) »

Genres:

Short | Drama

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Release Date:

4 March 1909 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Connections

Version of Rigoletto (1981) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Rigoletto, the Libretto; or, Hugo First.
6 August 2008 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

I saw this film in October 1998 at the Cinema Muto festival in Pordenone, Italy. They screened a print from the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The print ran 16 minutes at 16fps (I timed it), but was missing its original intertitles, so the original running time would have been at least two minutes longer.

This is of course the Victor Hugo story that provided the basis for Verdi's opera "Rigoletto". IMDb's synopsis for 'A Fool's Revenge' seems to be based on the Verdi opera, not on this short film itself. Necessarily, this brief silent movie omits all the music and most of the plot from Verdi's opera, but there are other differences less mandatory, which director D.W. Griffith (or his producer) seems to have chosen out of concern for the sensitivities of his American audience. I'll cite just a handful of the differences here: In Hugo's original play and Verdi's opera, the Duke sends his henchmen to abduct the Countess so that he can seduce her, but they accidentally abduct Gilda (the jester's daughter) instead. The Duke therefore seduces Gilda. In Griffith's film, the Duke intentionally tasks his men to abduct Gilda so that (get this, please) she can cure his melancholy! When she arrives, he merely gazes upon her beauty (so that's all he wanted, then) and then he releases her.

There are other divergences, but that should give you the general idea. Somebody at Mutoscope (Griffith himself?) clearly intended to bowdlerise this story, quite apart from condensing it into such a short running time.

Grand opera was popular in American cities in the 1900s, so I can't help wondering why Griffith gave this film a generic title rather than calling it 'Rigoletto': the film isn't even "A Court Jester's Revenge", mind you, but "A Fool's Revenge", which sounds as if this is going to be a modern-day slapstick comedy about an idiot, instead of a mediaeval European melodrama. Opera has always been less popular in the rural U.S. than in metropolitan areas, and perhaps Griffith was more concerned with the sensibilities of his fellow rural Southerners than with more sophisticated "Yankees".

I was intrigued to spot the comically moon-faced Fred Mace among Griffith's troupe here, as one of the courtiers. My rating for this movie is 7 out of 10.


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