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
The film was re-released in 1933, at which time the title credits were re-done, Arliss given billing as "Mr. George Arliss," and an NRA (National Recovery Act) emblem added; this is the version which presently survives. Unfortunately, the remainder of the film is cropped off the left side, in order to accommodate the sound-on-film system track, which had, by then, replaced the now obsolete Vitaphone sound-on-disc system, and required a slightly narrower picture image as a result. See more »
London, 1874. The old man sits in the great office, endlessly plotting & planning, benevolently scheming for the good of Queen & Empire. Although not too busy to further the romance of two young persons he loves, he puts all his talents & force of will into keeping Russia from dominating Asia & British India. This can only be achieved by thwarting a wily female spy & secretly purchasing control over the Suez Canal from the corrupt Egyptian khedive. Will he fail & suffer political disaster, or triumph & forever make famous the name of Prime Minister Benjamin DISRAELI?
Reveling in his most famous film role, George Arliss gives an Oscar-winning acting lesson. Endlessly fascinating to watch, his every twitch of eyebrow or turn of hand is capable of great humor or emotion. He becomes Disraeli, inhabits the fellow, and presents him before our eyes. It's a shame that Mr. Arliss has become obscure & almost forgotten to modern movie fans. It is their loss.
Although George Arliss is the main reason to watch any George Arliss film, he is given good support here from Florence Arliss, his real-life wife, playing Disraeli's wife Mary. Also appearing are Doris Lloyd as Mrs. Travers, the convivial spy; Joan Bennett & Anthony Bushell as the two young lovers; and Ivan F. Simpson as a Jewish financier.
If the production appears rather stiff & stagy, it must be remembered that this is a very early talkie, and that directors & performers were still adapting to the demands & restrictions imposed upon them by that new tyrant, the microphone. Just keep your attention on Arliss - his acting skills transcend the limitations.
It must be mentioned that the film distorts historical reality in two very significant areas. Opening in 1874, it portrays Disraeli as a very happily married man with a loving, elderly wife. The marriage had indeed been an outstanding one, but Mary had died of cancer in 1872. Also, financier Hugh Myers, who bankrolls the Suez scheme, is fictional. It was the Rothschild family who came to Disraeli's aid.
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