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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Arms and the Gringo" is a two reel silent melodrama. Directed by
William Christy Cabanne and starring Dorothy Gish and Wallace Reid, the
film is truly poor.
For instance, the editing of film seems to show Griffith-like techniques at their most over used. The director cross cuts constantly between scenes without any emotional or thematic significance. The only really powerful scene is the last, where Dorothy Gish is manhandled by arms smuggler and is rescued by the handsome American soldier Wallace Reid.
The one surprise in "Arms and the Gringo" is a Mexican-American character. The character is quite stereotypical in keeping with the attitudes of the time, but he does manage to get Wallace Reid's attention at the end of the film and so that he can save Dorothy Gish. This Mexican character may have been inspired by another nameless character in the Griffith Biograph "The Battle at Elderbrush Gulch".
Normally I am very kind to silent melodramas, but "Arms and the Gringo" lacks the direction or the heart to capture my attention. I would not recommend it as viewing for a person who has never seen a silent film.
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