"Though he were a thousand times mad, yet shall he sit on my throne."
This Mark Twain story has been recorded at least twenty times according to the Internet Movie Database, so I'm going to assume any readers of this review know some version of the tale and write about its handling in this 1920 silent version. It has just been made available on DVD by Grapevine Video from a print that is handsomely tinted, but, alas, not particularly crisp in its details. Grapevine works hard to find the best prints available and if a better print shows up later, they'll make a DVD of that and swap it for your earlier purchase free. They always operate on the "better something than nothing" thesis and I'm glad they made this early Alexander Korda movie with a script by Lajos Biros available.
Unfortunately, the version will not be particularly accessible. There is some fine formal cinematography, but the technique is old-fashioned for 1920 and almost unwatchable today. The film makers were too fond of the details of the book and produced an "illustrated text" sort of film, in which the audience sees a title, and then the action shows us what we have just read.
Part of that was undoubtedly due to the fact that this was shot in Germany by Hungarians émigrés and the titles I saw were intended for an American audience. Still, the effect is stodgy and I would urge you to seek out a livelier version.
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