Two American soldiers are captured by the Germans on the Western Front during World War One and escape a POW camp only to stumble into further life-threatening adventures when they come across an Arabian king's daughter while on the lam.
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John Francis Dillon
Robert Emmett O'Connor
Americans Sgt. Peter O'Gaffney and one of his soldiers, privileged "pretty boy" W. Daingerfield Phelps III (who is always drawing caricatures), are captured and interred at a POW camp in Northern Germany near the end of WWI. Their relationship has always been an antagonistic one based on what Phelps sees as O'Gaffney pushing him around. O'Gaffney's rank is despite being wanted by the police back home as a con man. It is because of these differences that their resulting friendship at camp is so unlikely, the friendship based on both having the nerve to attempt to escape. On a snow covered day, they do manage to escape, in part by stealing white robes to camouflage themselves against the snow. In their adventures and misadventures on the outside in trying to get to safety, those adventures which include being mistaken for Arab prisoners, they find themselves as stowaways on board a cargo ship headed to Arabia. It is there that they meet a beautiful Arab woman named Mirza, who they save ... Written by
Lewis Milestone won an Oscar, then called the First Award, for Direction (Comedy Picture), the first and only year that category appeared in the Academy Awards. Milestone beat the only other nominee in the category, Ted Wilde for Harold Lloyd's Speedy (1928). Charles Chaplin had originally been announced as a Best Comedy Director nominee for The Circus (1928), but subsequently was removed from the category (his nomination for Best Actor also was rescinded) and given a special Honorary Award. Milestone won a second Oscar for directing All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), which featured Louis Wolheim in a World War 1 setting, and was nominated one more time, for The Front Page (1931). See more »
Finally broadcast by Turner Classic Movies on December 15, 2004. The best feature of this comedy-drama is in fact the directing. Unusual overhead shots, clever arrangements of actors to later reveal a different situation than first seen, make this film stand out. Director Lewis Milestone would go on to do "All Quiet on the Western Front," "The Front Page," "Of Mice and Men," and the 1962 "Mutiny on the Bounty." The plot is a bit convoluted (war in the trenches to a prison camp, to the high seas, and finally in Arabia) and there is some problems with continuity, but a synopsis is that boy meets girl and boy gets girl. The writing appears to have been above average but are we looking at the original titles or was the text altered and updated during the restoration? William Boyd (AKA Hopalong Cassidy) is actually believable as a carefree World War I doughboy as is Louis Wolheim as his buddy the Sergeant. Michael Visaroff is excellent as the lecherous ship's captain. The film also features a twenty-one year old Mary Astor and Boris Karloff. New music provides a pleasant accompaniment. Film quality is not great, but it is apparently all that we can get. Recommended.
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