In 1924, Photoplay Magazine and Paramount cooked up a publicity stunt. A movie would be released with no name, based on a commissioned novel. Moviegoers were encouraged to think up a title and mail it to Photoplay, the winning entry receiving $5,000 (a huge sum in 1924). Presumably the cash prize would induce suckers to part with their nickels, and buy tickets for this movie. There aren't many other reasons to see it.
Alan Holt (Valentino wanna-be Antonio Moreno) is a handsome young man, an idealist who has invented a death ray. (Sounds good to me.) He and his sweetheart Mary are kidnapped by Kurder the pirate, who wants to get his hands on that death ray, me hearties. The role of Kurder is ludicrously written, but Louis Wolheim gives a good performance nonetheless. In real life, Wolheim was a highly intelligent man (a former college professor), but his hulking frame and coarse features kept him typecast as brutes.
This movie has lots of action sequences but very little plot. Worse luck, the action sequences are very badly staged. We see ships and aeroplanes that are obviously miniatures in a small tank of water. Maurice Costello plays a crippled pirate who lurches to centre stage, glances round furtively to make certain nobody is watching him, then opens his crutch to reveal a short-wave radio. Carrier pigeons come and go at inconvenient moments.
This movie is a mess. The filmmakers seem to have been much more interested in the title gimmick than in creating a coherent narrative. I'll rate this movie 2 points out of 10: one point for Wolheim's game performance, and one point for Harold Rosson's splendid camera work (which should have been applied to a better movie).
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