Vitaphone production reels #2471-2478; third Warner Bros. feature film - the first being The Jazz Singer and the second Tenderloin - to include talking sequences, along with the by now usual Vitaphone musical score and sound effects. See more »
Boring period piece with good Costello performance
There is no reason to see this quite boring adaptation of the play of the same name if you are not a Dolores Costello fan. She is quite fine as the Southern belle, Betsy Patterson, who in real life was courted by Jerome Bonaparte, brother of the European conqueror on a good will American tour in 1804. They married and sailed to France, where Napoleon annulled the marriage and sent her back, wedding his brother to a Westphalian princess to secure his hold on Europe. The film has Jerome posing as Betsy's French tutor and then revealing his true identity to her at a ball welcoming him to America. The shipboard arrival in France follows with the Napoleonic encounter and Betsy's return, duping Jerome into thinking she worked out a deal with Napoleon. The added piece of non-history involves her having Jerome's child and his eventual desertion of France to return to her side.
All of this is dreadfully dull and slow moving with Conrad Nagel giving a poor performance, full of bug-eyed enthusiasm and exaggerated silent film posing. Costello is reserved in comparison and does a lovely job. There is nothing special about the film technically and sets and costumes are merely adequate. Inexplicably it earned an Academy Award nomination for Screenplay adaptation - most undeserved in my opinion.
Prints are housed in all the major American archives. The one I saw at the Library of Congress in DC did not have preserved the two sound reels (released as a part- talkie) but it was obvious where they occurred - halfway through at the ball where Jerome makes known his true identity and the conclusion when he returns to Betsy.
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