IMDb > The Chess Player (1927)

The Chess Player (1927) More at IMDbPro »Le joueur d'échecs (original title)

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Release Date:
17 May 1930 (USA) See more »
In 1776, an inventor conceals a Polish nobleman in his chess-playing automaton, a machine whose fame leads it to the court of the Russian empress. | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Dull silent epic with some standout moments See more (6 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Pierre Blanchar ... Boleslas Vorowski
Charles Dullin ... Baron von Kempelen
Édith Jéhanne ... Sophie Novinska
Camille Bert ... Maj. Nicolaieff

Pierre Batcheff ... Prince Serge Oblomoff
Marcelle Charles Dullin ... Catherine II (as Marcelle Charles)
Jackie Monnier ... Wanda (as Jacky Monnier)
Armand Bernard ... Roubenko

Alexiane ... Olga
Pierre Hot ... King Stanislas
Jaime Devesa ... Prince Orloff
Fridette Fatton ... Pola
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Pierre Mindaist ... (uncredited)

Albert Préjean ... (uncredited)

Directed by
Raymond Bernard 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Raymond Bernard 
Henry Dupuis-Mazuel  novel
Henry Dupuis-Mazuel  screenplay
Jean-José Frappa 

Original Music by
Henri Rabaud 
Cinematography by
Marc Bujard 
Willy Faktorovitch  (as Willy)
Joseph-Louis Mundwiller 
Art Direction by
Jean Perrier 
Set Decoration by
Robert Mallet-Stevens 
Costume Design by
Eugène Lourié 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Jean Hémard .... assistant director
Special Effects by
W. Percy Day .... special effects
Other crew
Lily Jumel .... production assistant

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Le joueur d'échecs" - France (original title)
See more »
135 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

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5 out of 11 people found the following review useful.
Dull silent epic with some standout moments, 16 August 2003
Author: zetes from Saint Paul, MN

Divided into two parts, the first half is okay, if generally unremarkable. It concerns a group of Polish people rebelling against the Russians, who are dominating them. The second half is mostly painful to sit through. The leader of the Polish rebels, Boleslas (Pierre Blanchar), is disguised as an undefeatable robotic chess player, designed by Baron von Kempelen (Charles Dullin), who is famous for his automatons. When the automaton faces the Empress of Russia, Catherine II, she cheats to see what her opponent will do. He responds by swiping the pieces off the chess board. The Empress finds it amusing, but orders the automaton to be shot. The film is way overlong (imdb lists under 90 minutes, but the Milestone DVD runs 139), and the story and themes are convoluted. Like a lot of overambitious silent films, its far too many characters are easy to confuse. I was quite bored through the film. There were several great moments, though. The battle scenes in the first half are exceptional. Bernard uses some sort of handheld camera to make it seem like the viewer is in the battle. It's a common technique nowadays, but I can't recall seeing it earlier than 1927. This has to be at least one of the first times when this was done. The cinematography is generally good, and often great, especially in the first half. Although the second half is hard to sit through, there is an extended sequence where one character is caught in the middle of a group of Baron von Kempelen's automaton soldiers. I didn't even really know who this character was exactly, but it was a neat scene.

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