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Nigel De Brulier
This film provided Boris Karloff with one of his first acting jobs in Hollywood. He worked as an extra, and can be spotted in the sequence where several of Sarzeau's men storm the inn where William Brooks (Douglas Fairbanks) is staying. Karloff is at the front of the crowd, sporting a dark mustache and wearing a cloth cap. He can also be seen on the staircase as the men race up the stairs to Brooks's room. See more »
The first United Artists movie - a MILESTONE, and a GREAT comedy!
When Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and D.W. Griffith had founded United Artists as a counterweight to the trust the big studios had formed against the small ones, Doug was chosen to make the first step: to realize the first project of the new independent company. And after an introduction explaining the goals of the newly-formed studio, he jumps right 'out of the titles' and declares, with his irresistible smile and his unbreakable optimism, about that first United Artists venture in his most CHARACTERISTICAL way: 'Gee whiz - I hope you'll like it!'
And how could anyone NOT like this hilarious comedy-adventure - with a length of almost two hours, a running time that RARELY keeps the audience from getting bored, except if there is SO much action in it as in this one - and its hero, dynamic and adventure-seeking as always?! He starts out as Bill Brooks from New York, a volunteer fireman and policeman just for adventure's sake (beating up the most dangerous criminals and rescuing a whole family and their cat from the third floor of a building in flames, swinging over with a rope from the opposite building - and happily remarking when he finally takes the little black kitty from the already crumbling house: 'Fine! Nine lives saved on the last trip!'), because he's well off financially, although he doesn't even know where the money comes from...
But then, a new mayor 'cleans up' the city, and Bill finds himself with nothing to do; so he decides to go to Mexico to catch a ruthless rebel named 'Francisco Villa' - while, at the same time, unknown to him, they're waiting for him desperately in a little Central European state called Alaine... There, a good king (strange how Americans always seem to be longing for the monarchy they never had...), although he's just about to introduce a new, more democratic constitution, is being opposed by his scheming Minister of War, who's collaborating with the ruthless ruler of a neighboring country to stir up the people against their king... And here, amidst all the wonderful comedy and action, the film also teaches the audience a lesson about the dangers demagogues pose, and how easily they're able to rouse the people - years before Mussolini and Hitler, unfortunately, made that nightmare a reality! And so, the people of Alaine keep demanding 'new blood' in the royal family; with which the evil Minister of War means the equally evil Prime Minister of the neighboring state, of course - while the old king is still hoping to find the missing young member of his family; and at the same time, our hero Bill keeps hoping to find the ONE thing he never had: his mother...
A most MASTERFUL and immensely faceted movie, part comedy, part adventure, and even containing serious political and social elements - and, of course, a WONDERFUL vehicle for Doug Fairbanks to show ALL his repertory, from his acrobatics to his great comical talent to his romantic side; there surely couldn't have been a better start for the 'newborn' United Artists Corporation!!
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