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House Peters makes an ideal Raffles, but...
31 January 2007
Although credited to Harvey Thew, the plot follows close on the heels
of the 1917 version with one major and a number of minor exceptions.
The main change (which would have outraged E.W Hornung had he lived to
see it) is the complete transformation in the character of Bunny. Mind
you, he's well played by Freeman Wood, but this is not the Bunny of the
book or the other versions.
Minor but important alterations include the diminution of Raffles into
a conventional do-gooder with far less emphasis upon the thrill-seeker
and the consequent watering down of just about all the play's
Fortunately, the personable Peters does an excellent job as Raffles.
What's more, he looks the part. However, it's the pretty but rather
lackluster Miss DuPont who supplies what little wit the screenplay
possesses. Peters smiles a lot but he doesn't do or "say" anything
The other players are at best little more than competent. Hedda Hopper
is almost as hammy as Christine Mayo in the previous version, while
Esmelton, Long, Hall and company are easily outclassed by the actors in
the 1917 version.
And would you believe the budget also is less? The 1917 movie was
hardly a top-rating item, but the negative cost of this version looks
well below a typical 1940s Producers Releasing Corp entry.
As for Mr Baggot, he is a staunch supporter of the
bolt-the-camera-to-the-floor school of film-making. The camera did not
move once. Not one inch! True, the sub-titles are deftly integrated and
his handling is smoother and far less conspicuous than that of Mr
Irving, but personally I found Mr Irving's often startling incompetence
far more exciting than Baggot's dull yet consistently dreary
All told, despite the welcome charisma of House Peters in the title
role, this is a rather disappointing version.
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