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Outstanding cinematography/art direction highlight Mexican romance
This is a fine film romance that has been quite forgotten. Norma Talmadge plays a Mexican saloon singer, known as 'The Dove.' She is romanced by a young caballero, played by Gilbert Roland, and menaced by a Villa-like brute of a dictator, played by Noah Beery. The latter arranges for the kidnapping of his rival and Norma tries to kill herself rather than submit to Beery. Luckily, her love escapes and rescues her.
Talmadge is quite fine in the role, showing a range that encompasses comedy, flirtatious coyness, and deep sadness. Roland is quite handsome sans moustache in this early role. Beery menaces well as his brother Wallace would a few years later playing a similar role in VIVA VILLA.
The cinematography is outstanding - sharp and clear for the most part but deliciously soft-focused in the romantic close-ups. Both composition and lighting are exquisite. The enormous adobe sets are luscious to look at and deservedly won William Cameron Menzies the first Art Direction Oscar (shared with his work on THE TEMPEST).
The only surviving material are four impeccably preserved nitrate reels at the Library of Congress (#1,3,4,8) our of nine. A film that should be sought after for restoration. An enriching romantic experience.
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