If there was one thing that Don Juan de Marana learned from his father Don Jose, it was that women gave you three things - life, disillusionment and death. In his father's case it was his wife, Donna Isobel, and Donna Elvira who supplied the latter. Don Juan settled in Rome after attending the University of Pisa. Rome was run by the tyrannical Borgia family consisting of Caesar, Lucrezia and the Count Donati. Juan has his way with and was pursued by many women, but it is the one that he could not have that haunts him. It will be for her that he suffers the wrath of Borgia for ignoring Lucrezia and then killing Count Donati in a duel. For Adriana, they will both be condemned to death in the prison on the river Tigre. Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com>
At the film's premiere, Will Hays, the then "Czar" and censor of the industry, contributed an on-screen introduction, talking in synchronized sound, greeting everyone in the audience with "Welcome to a new era of motion picture." After that, the Los Angeles Philharmonic was filmed playing "Tannhäuser", violinists Mischa Elman and Efrem Zimbalist Sr., guitarist Roy Smeck, three opera shorts with Giovanni MartinelliMarion Talley and Anna Case, and then the feature. It was a huge success. See more »
John Barrymore out-Fairbankses Doug Fairbanks in DON JUAN
I appreciate the comments made so far on this film but most seem to judge this film in a vacuum and without any background on the silent film genre, a medium quite different from sound films. One commenter even criticized the film for being in black & white. Come now, that's rather silly.
DON JUAN belongs to the great tradition of silent film swashbucklers during the 1920s of which Douglas Fairbanks was the King (and who self-financed his films). Beginning in 1920, Fairbanks effectively switched gears from his modern dress satires of American foibles he made during 1916 to 1919, to literally recreating his boyhood daydreams of being an action hero of Days of Old. The public responded enthusiastically and Doug made a fortune. But his films reaffirmed a kind of rigid moral system and both his character and the heroine were invariably chaste. Clearly, other film makers who were a bit more daring sensed an opportunity to go further than Fairbanks had been willing to go and Warner Bros. struck while the iron was hot in 1926 with DON JUAN.
Compared to the Fairbanks films such as Three Musketeers (1921), Robin Hood (1922), Thief of Bagdad (1924), and Don Q, Son of Zorro (1925), which are to this day excellent films, DON JUAN seemed like a revelation with its sexually overt protagonist and equally overt female characters (when Lucretia Borgia first sees Don Juan, a close up shows her clearly eyeing his crotch!). In addition, John Barrymore (aided occasionally by a stunt double) provided a sufficient number of athletic stunts that would satisfy most Fairbanks fans. DON JUAN was and remains a most exhilarating film with a unique conclusion that combines a chain reaction of swashbuckling events.
I must take exception to the most recent commenter's claim that actor Willard Louis, who played Juan's servant Pedrillo, died mid-point in filming. Poor Mr. Louis indeed perished from typhoid fever but either after filming had been completed or at least after his work was completed. He appears throughout the film and his presence during the film's final moments would have been unnecessary. However, if the previous reviewer wanted to question Joseph Swickard's disappearance from the film (he played Mary Astor's father), I would agree that his sudden departure from the story was strange. However, Mr. Swickard lived and appeared in films for many more years so perhaps in DON JUAN he was merely the victim of the film editor who needed to tighten up the story. At any rate, it is a great film and the original Vitaphone music score interprets the action so well that all the young composers who are hired by Turner Classic Movies to provide new scores to silent films ought to be required to see - and hear - DON JUAN to fully comprehend the relationship between silent film and its musical accompaniment.
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