While Douglas Fairbanks is often known for his athletic prowess and adventure movies like "The Thief of Bagdad", "Robin Hood" and "Zorro", he also had a nice penchant for comedy. Though most of his surviving films are of the former type, a few comedies exist todayand "American Aristocracy" manages to merge BOTH genres into one! The film begins by making fun of all the rich industrialists' wives and how they view themselves as being much like European royalty. However, these families who live and vacation in luxury all made their fortunes through manufacturing things like chewing gum, hair pins and the likeyet they put on airs and behave as if they are somehow better than others.
Into this snobbish society comes Cassius (Fairbanks)an entomologist who is not a part of this genteel world. But he wants to be accepted and tries very hard to crash societymostly because he's infatuated with the fair Geraldine. His chance comes when Percy gets Cassius to pretend to be him. And, when Cassius drives fast cars and flies airplanes, Percy's friends all thing he is something else! However, Geraldine isn't so easily fooled and slowly falls for Cassius.
While the film had mostly been a romantic comedy up to this point, the plot turns quickly. You learn that Percy is eviland secretly running gunpowder to the Central Powers (i.e., Germany and the other nations fighting the US during WWI). When Cassius finds out, he becomes a bit of an action heronot just to save America, apple pie and democracy but because Geraldine and her father have been kidnapped by Percy and his baddies. Can Cassius somehow fight the forces of not niceness and save the day AND the girl? What do you think?! The film is a very nice balance between comedy, romance and amazing athleticism. As always, Fairbanks is clearly doing his own stunts and watching him running, leaping and nearly breaking his neck is quite exciting. A well-crafted film as well, this one has stood up well with time.
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