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Although Norma Talmadge is the star of the movie, she doesn't make her first appearance until about the 25 minute mark. See more »
Early in the movie - which is set in 1572 - Catherine de Medici meets with her son, King Charles IX. She is accompanied by an entourage, one of whom is holding Norma Talmadge's personal pet, a sable-colored toy Pomeranian named "Dinky". Toy Pomeranians didn't exist before Queen Victoria ascended the throne of Great Britain in 1837. Before then, Pomeranians were medium-sized dogs, had white coats, and typically weighed 30 to 40 pounds (13.6 to 18.2 kg). Victoria wanted to develop a breed of Pomeranian lap dogs, so she began collecting and breeding Pomeranian litter runts a few years before she became queen. It would take about 40 years before toy Pomeranians weighing 4 to 8 pounds (1.8 to 3.6 kg) with a variety of coat colors were available - about 300 years after this film takes place. See more »
We have here a high-priced costume drama with a standard story: they're in love but they're both so noble they can't tell each other, so we have to go through the entire movie.
I have found myself not too fond of Miss Talmadge's movies, so you need to take that into account in this review. Nevertheless, this turns out to be a decent film for the era. It was a spectacle production and it shows with a great shot in the opening and the sumptuous costumes: too sumptuous perhaps. At times the movie seems to drag -- I saw the 111-minute road-show version instead of the 72-minute version meant for the nabes, and I think they held most of the shots too long so that the ladies in the audience could take a look at the fabrics. Nonetheless, besides a decent script -- their families hate each other, of course, and it's the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, which is raised to start the plot rolling and then never mentioned again -- there are some good performances.
Top among them is Wallace Beery who, as the Duc de Tour, manages to combine most of the seven deadly sins. He really makes you want to hiss. Likewise, Conway Tearle does himself proud. True, he has the thankless job of being the leading man in a starring lady' film, and who remembers anyone in those except Claude Rains occasionally dressing down Bette Davis? Nonetheless, he does get to do some acting, some nice fencing and one or two good lines. Contrast that with the deadly environment of THE DANGEROUS MAID, a costume drama he made with Constance Talmadge -- that was the Bloody Assizes -- and in this you'd think he's Tommy Meighan if not quite Douglas Fairbanks for screen presence.
I think that if you want to see a Norma Talmadge movie, you'd be best off seeing KIKI, a terrific comedy. But this is a costume drama and more typical of her starring vehicles, so if you need to see one of those, this is watchable. But I'll bet the 72-minute version moves better.
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