Sessue Hayakawa shot to stardom in Demille's THE CHEAT and his employers didn't know quite what to do with him. A Japanese actor, he couldn't be a romantic hero in the United States, so they made him into a melodramatic hero of a non-white race -- here he plays a half-Polynesian -- who suffered for his love -- usually of a White American woman -- and redeemed himself from the implied sin of miscegenation by suffering or dying. This went on for a couple of years until he was able to produce his own independent features.
In the midst of all of this, of course, one is struck mostly by the silly, often idiot-plotted stories and by Hayakawa's relatively subtle and believable acting.
This one pretty much follows that course. The print I saw at New York's Museum of Modern Art today was incomplete and the remaining bits had a lot of bubbling from outgassing, but except for Hayakawa, it's not worth it. Even director George Melford can't do much with this one.
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