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I watched a simply fantastic film last night, "The Glorious Adventure" (1922), a British adventure/history/period piece starring Lady Diana Manners, Cecil Humphreys, Gerald Lawrence, and in his sixth film, young Victor McLaglen, along with many, many more in this J. Stuart Blackton produced-by/directed-by film. The first striking thing is that this was Britain's first all-color feature film, made in a process called Prizma Colour. "The Toll of the Sea", also 1922, is the first surviving feature of the two-strip Technicolor process, and it looks quite good in comparison, frankly, but "The Glorious Adventure", as washed out as it appears in a few places, nevertheless is still stunningly beautiful in many ways, and the costuming alone allows for the full use of fine color photography.
This one is a well-acted piece, too, not prone to the arm-slinging, hand-to-mouth wide gesturing of so many pictures in the 1914-1925 stretch of time. Rather, it captures the feel of thirties American and British adventure films with the likes of Errol Flynn or John Clements. Gerald Lawrence plays the inheritor of a barony who has it stolen out from under him by an underhanded Cecil Humphreys who has Lawrence thrown into the sea and supposedly drowned by Victor McLaglen. Of course, Lawrence doesn't drown, as we find out later. Meanwhile, the lady of the piece, Lady Beatrice Fair, played by Lady Diana Manners, is put through life trial after life trial during this period of Charles II and his Restoration, including by the king himself, played by William Luff. Eventually, all this, taking place in, near, and around London, leads to the great fire of London in 1666. The fire and the events played out during the fire is not only first rate movie making, but for 1922 is spectacular in the first degree! I was not only impressed, but, frankly, surprised how great the scenes were! The film was released 1 January 1922, so it was obviously made during 1921.
I enjoy period pieces very much, especially if they're well done. This one not only incorporates a good amount of genuine history and historical characters in its telling of a fictional story, but does it with aplomb. Just watching Lennox Pawle as Samuel Pepys is a hoot! Kudos to the actors and actresses, the director, the photographer, the editor, but also to the scenario writer, Alma Reville (Mrs. Alfred Hitchcock later).
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