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The Arcadians (1927)

 -  Comedy  -  October 1927 (UK)
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A nightclub owner who suspects that the police are after him for running an illegal operation after closing time moves to Arcadia to get away from the heat, but finds that both his club and... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Ben Blue ...
Simplicitas Smith
Jeanne De Casalis ...
Mrs. Smith
Vesta Sylva ...
Eileen Cavanaugh
John Longden ...
Jack Meadows
Gibb McLaughlin ...
Peter Doody
Humberston Wright ...
Sir George Paddock
Cyril McLaglen ...
The Crook
Doris Bransgrove ...
Sombra
Nancy Rigg ...
Chrysea
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Teddy Brown
Tracey and Haye ...
Themselves
Lola ...
Herself
Luis ...
Himself
Balliol and Merton ...
Themselves
Arcadian Nymphs
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Storyline

A nightclub owner who suspects that the police are after him for running an illegal operation after closing time moves to Arcadia to get away from the heat, but finds that both his club and his wife are about to become the property of a crooked jockey. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

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based on play

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Comedy

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Release Date:

October 1927 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Arcadians  »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Trivia

Directorial debut of Victor Saville. See more »

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User Reviews

Starring a Blue comedian.
25 July 2008 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

Years ago, I thought that John Longden the film actor and Johnny Longden the jockey were the same person, so (more recently) I was amused to discover that Longden the actor portrays a jockey in this film version of 'The Arcadians'. Unfortunately, I wasn't nearly as amused by this movie itself.

'The Arcadians' was originally a hugely successful stage musical in England, imported Stateside with nearly as much success. This film version was produced by Gaumont British in 1927 and is therefore silent, the British film industry in '27 not yet capable of soundtracks. It's not especially surprising that a stage musical would be filmed during the silent-movie era, especially since 'The Arcadians' was so popular. This movie inevitably deletes the songs and most of the dancing; fortunately the basic story retains enough interest to succeed (somewhat) on its own.

I managed to Steenbeck a deteriorated and incomplete nitrate print of 'The Arcadians', which retains interest even for non-musical fans because of the efficient direction by Victor Saville.

We begin in the classical idyll of Arcadia, when out of the sky plummets British aviator Smith. The latter is played by an actor named Ben Blue, but he is NOT the Canadian comedian who cavorted in Hollywood: at Paramount in the 1930s and at MGM in the '40s. Some sequences of the 'Arcadians' print that I viewed were so badly deteriorated that I couldn't see the actors' faces clearly, but I'm quite certain that this performer is quite another Ben Blue entirely. The Hollywood Blue had some very distinctive moves as an eccentric dancer; the Ben Blue in this film has a few eccentric moves of his own, but his body language is quite distinct from that of his Hollywood namesake. Whoever this Blue is, he pulls off a couple of pratfalls that would be a credit to the (very agile) Hollywood Blue. Why did this man make no more movies?

SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD. Anyroad, Smith goes back to England with a couple of Arcadian nymphs. They attend the race meeting at "Askwood" (a weak parody of Ascot) where Smith's wife fails to recognise him after his rejuvenating stint in Arcadia. Mrs Smith is portrayed by Jeanne De Casalis, a character actress midway between Billie Burke and Margaret Dumont. Jack Meadows (Longden) was supposed to be up today, but his mount has thrown him. The same mount has thrown another jockey cried Doody, thus requiring me to say 'Good-bye, Doody' before I get a chance to say 'Howdy, Doody'. Smith (of course) rides the horse instead, and (double of course) he wins, helped by a bit of Arcadian mummery. With his winnings, he and his wife open an Arcadian restaurant in London.

Why am I even trying to synopsise this candyfloss? IMDb have listed Victor McLaglen's brother Cyril in this movie's cast, but I didn't spot him in the incomplete print I viewed. I was also disappointed to miss Balliol and Merton, a comedy turn. More enjoyable for me in the surviving reels were the Tiller Girls, an extremely famous and beloved line of chorines who lent their charms to many a West End musical. (The line-up of individual girls changed frequently, of course.) Here, they show up as Arcadian beauties and as society girls at Askwood and in the Smiths' restaurant. There's a dance speciality that would have worked better in a sound movie.

There are enough good points here to make me regret that I wasn't screening a better (and complete) print of this fluffy comedy, but if a better print is out there I'm not likely to want to sit through this again. As more than fifteen minutes of footage were missing from the print that I viewed, I shan't rate this. The original stage musical was a major production in Britain, so this film version would be of some historic significance even if it hadn't been directed by Saville.


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