'Young April' seems to be an attempt to cash in on the success of the Ruritanian romances such as 'The Prisoner of Zenda' and 'Beverly of Graustark' that were so popular in the 1920s. Much of the plot of this film manages to be both contrived and predictable ... yet the actors give appealing performances, and there is some amusing contrast between go-getting Jazz Age Americans and stodgy European bluebloods.
Bessie Love plays Victoria Saxe, a slightly tomboyish student at Miss Penny's seminary for girls in America. She is visited by two dignitaries from an obscure European monarchy (why didn't they just call her on the Saxe-o-phone?), who inform Vickie that she has inherited the title of Grand Duchess of Saxeheim, and must return home immediately. (Why didn't she know that she was heir to the title?) Fortunately, a sizeable amount of money comes along with the title. I was expecting a twist ending, with the foreign currency -- Spezonian spondulicks -- turning out to be utterly worthless in real dollars, but this doesn't happen. Vickie invites her chums Maggie and Jerry to accompany her on a trip to Saxeheim. En route to Saxeheim, they plan to stop off in Paris and do plenty of shopping!
Meanwhile, back in the kingdom of Futtbuckia, we meet Prince Caryl, who is betrothed to the Grand Duchess by one of those old-fashioned morganatic marriages. Caryl is a playboy who has managed to squander five million kronen (two bucks, American). He knows that the grand duchess's wealth could get him out of hock, but he assumes that she's a dowdy old dowager, and he doubts that her dowry is worth it.
The prince swans off to Paris, where he meets unaffected American girl Vickie Saxe. Hey presto! Love at first sight. Never suspecting that this is (by an amazing coincidence) the woman he's already engaged to marry, Caryl breaks his engagement to the grand duchess, and renounces his claim to the throne, in order to marry the woman he loves. (Is this just a trick to get out of paying back the five million kronen?) Complications ensue.
The script is embarrassing, but most of the cast give delightful performances. Prince Caryl and his father the king are played respectively by Joseph and Rudolph Schildkraut, son and father in real life. Their chemistry in their scenes together is impressive, and funny. Also impressive is Bryant Washburn as Caryl's uncle. There's some physical comedy involving a hand grenade.
I was amused at several points in this silent film by some clever intertitles, which purport to show dialogue in Caryl's native language ... and which rapidly dissolve into some very slangy American wisecracks. There are many enjoyable bits in 'Young April', but the central situation manages to be deeply contrived and clichéd, so I'll rate this comedy only 4 out of 10.
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