It's New Year's Eve. Three drunkards evoke a legend. The legend tells that the last person to die in a year, if he is a great sinner, will have to drive during the whole year the Phantom ... See full summary »
Where to begin with the problems with this picture? Shall we start with the missing footage, including the last two reels? The fact that it seems to start out as a bedroom farce and then veers into black tragedy? How about the actors?
OK, let's start with the actors. It's not their fault that they are miscast. I can't look at Mae Busch without expecting her to turn around and break a plate over Oliver Hardy's head. Conrad Nagel as the Deemster -- the term on the Isle of Man for the high judge -- is appropriately callow, but although he was a good actor, he had no presence, and allowed his female co-stars, including Patsy Ruth Miller, to push him around like a mop on screen. They do OK, but they don't add much to the picture.
Then there's the movie itself. It starts out innocuously enough, looking like it is going to turn into a bedroom farce. Then bam! It turns suddenly into a typical Sjostrom tragedy with Mae Busch being tried for murdering her illegitimate infant son -- was she pregnant? She didn't look it -- and Conrad Nagel, who got her pregnant, presiding over the trial.
Visually, the first half is absolutely run of the mill with no visual flair. Halfway through, when the tragedy begins, everything turns wild and stormy and very Sjostrom-like.
I'd give this a miss unless you're a real fanatic for Sjostrom. Good thing to see that even Jove nods.
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