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Robert Z. Leonard
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Fleeing for his life, a young Bonapartist with a DEVIL-MAY-CARE attitude discovers romantic complications after hiding in the boudoir of a lovely young lady.
Ramon Novarro made his all-talking picture debut in this romantic comedy, one of Hollywood's very first musicals. MGM's Mexican star adds another role to his long list of ethnic portrayals, this time as a Frenchman. Knowing he had made the successful transition from silents to talkies, he seems to be having a great time with the swashbuckling antics of his character. Exhibiting a considerable amount of mischievous charm, he completely dominates the entire picture.
It is important to remember that this was an extremely early talkie, yet director Sidney Franklin and sound artist Douglas Shearer prove more than capable of tackling the difficulties with the microphone. Indeed, there are times, particularly during the musical scenes, when one is beguiled into believing that sound production provided no impediments whatsoever, so smoothly do the scenes flow. Surely this was an indication of considerable talent behind the camera.
Kudos should also go to cinematographer Merriitt B. Gerstad, who makes beautiful use of shadows, showing the power of black & white photography. This is even further highlighted by the inclusion of one scene filmed in early Technicolor, near the end of the picture.
Novarro's singing voice had been a significant success earlier in 1929 in THE PAGAN. In DEVIL-MAY-CARE he seems to be crooning most of the time, doing full justice to a series of songs by Herbert Stothart & Clifford Grey.
Dorothy Jordan & Marion Harris play the cousins who figure so prominently in Novarro's life. Both are comely and their non-Gaelic accents only occasionally intrude upon their performances. John Miljan is enjoyable as the comic Royalist who pursues Novarro. Movie mavens will recognize an uncredited Lionel Belmore as an inebriated Innkeeper.
Historically speaking, our young hero's elation at the return of the Emperor Napoleon in March of 1815, from 10-month's exile on the island of Elba, was doomed to be short-lived.
Although thousands flocked to join him during his triumphal march to Paris, Napoleon's Hundred Days of glory came to an end on the battlefield of Waterloo, on June 18, 1815, with utter and irreversible defeat at the hands of the British & Prussians. On July 15, 1815, Napoleon's second exile began, this time on the tiny South Atlantic isle of St. Helena. There would be no further escape. Abandoned & alone, Napoleon Bonaparte died on May 5, 1821, very possibly as a result of arsenic poisoning.
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