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Biopic of the famed British Prime Minister focusing on his concern about Russia's growing interest in the Indian subcontinent and his attempts to buy the Suez Canal. He sees the Canal as the key strategic resource in maintaining the Empire in the East but is unpopular in many quarters. With antisemitism rife at the time, Disraeli finds little support for his plan to purchase the canal or his foreign policy in general. There is no doubt that the Russians are plotting against British interests and he is surrounded by spies, even in his office at 10 Downing St. When the Bank of England refuses to finance the purchase of the available shares he turns to private sources to raise the available cash only to find the conspirators one step ahead of him. Written by
George Arliss is bewitching as "Disraeli". Mr. Arliss' character secures control of the Suez Canal for Great Britain, outmaneuvering Russian spy Doris Lloyd. He also plays "matchmaker" for Joan Bennett and Anthony Bushell. Arliss' performance is captivating, despite the datedness of this early "talking" movie.
Nobody can equal Arliss, but I did like Ms. Lloyd as his sparring partner. Ms. Bennett was good, also - a cut above her average "stand around and look beautiful" films from this period. The players were elevated, possibly, in Arliss' presence. There are some noticeable ways they could have made a better film, by waiting even a year or two. I would like to see the film restored; moreover, I would accept some tinkering/editing for a new version (while preserving the original, of course).
If you like classic "one-man-show" acting performances, it's hard to beat Arliss in this movie. He performs like a spider spinning its web - capturing everything in sight, including the audience. Be careful!
********* Disraeli (10/2/29) Alfred E. Green ~ George Arliss, Joan Bennett, Anthony Bushell, Doris Lloyd
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