In September 1928, Warner Bros. Pictures purchased a majority interest in First National Pictures and from that point on, all "First National" productions were actually made under Warner Bros. control, even though the two companies continued to retain separate identities until the mid-1930's, after which time "A Warner Bros.-First National Picture" was often used. See more »
This part-talkie, screened last week at Syracuse's Cinefest, is both technically accomplished and dramatically satisfying. Immoral flapper Dorothy MacKail is on trial for murder, she's already confessed, and we see in flashback how she had a change of life and heart after being pursued by honest, hunky cop Milton Sills. (He has a nice Harrison Ford quality, and he's comfortable under the early microphones, though his Irish accent comes and goes.) He pursues her to the South Seas, captures her and attempts to take her back to trial, and the two are shipwrecked on a desert island, nicely portrayed by Hawaiian location filming. The trial sequences are all-talking and everything else all-silent, though with musical scoring and sound effects; we get at least five choruses apiece of Irving Berlin's "Lady of the Evening" (when she's being a floozie) and Victor Herbert's "To the Land of My Own Romance" (when she's purifying). The plot has holes and the happy ending strains credibility, but we're so rooting for these two that we buy it. And while bad-girl-redeemed-through-God movies usually make me impatient and cross, this one has a more solid foundation than most. I suppose if you were indefinitely shipwrecked in a tropical paradise, you would indeed look back on your life's mistakes and wonder about how you might improve yourself. As far as I know, this one received no special attention among the raft of early talkies, but its excellent technical values and George Fitzmaurice's sensitive direction make it noteworthy.
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