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Rod La Rocque and Rita La Roy. Did two co-stars' names ever go better together? I don't think so. And the title, "The Delightful Rogue," has that same l-and-r thing going on. It's all very euphonious.
But the movie itself is not so good.
This is an early sound film, and it will seem creaky and primitive to modern viewers. But that's not the real problem. No, the real problem is La Rocque's ridiculous accent.
In later films, when he spoke naturally, La Rocque sounded just fine, like the well-bred Midwesterner he was. But in this movie, he's trying to give us the voice of a Spanish pirate, the kind of character he previously played in silent movies. Unfortunately, no Spaniard ever sounded like this while speaking English . . . or while speaking Spanish. I doubt if anybody ever sounded like this. It's a unique way to speak.
In the comedy "The Girl From Jones Beach," Ronald Reagan played an American pretending to be a Czech immigrant. His accent was funny, but that was part of the plot. La Rocque's accent in this movie is both funnier than the one Reagan used and less authentic. It's hard not to laugh every time he opens his mouth.
La Rocque plays a buccaneer in the South Seas who gets control over two wealthy Americans who have a thing going on. Expressing his desire for the woman, he finds a way to test the love between her and her man. Pirates are often portrayed in fiction as sexual outlaws, and that's part of the message here, conveyed more frankly than Hollywood would have allowed a few years later. Still, the pace is slow, and nothing particularly racy happens on screen.
As the "woman in distress," La Roy is fairly convincing, at least compared to her male co-star. She has real sex appeal, with a fit body that made her a popular vaudeville dancer. (Both La Rocque and La Roy retired from films relatively early to pursue other interests.)
"The Delightful Rogue" has little to recommend it. But if you're one of those people who celebrate "International Talk Like a Pirate Day," check out La Rocque's effort. You've got to be better at it than he is.
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