After a short split prologue showing riches as the root of evil in ancient and modern times, the film settles into 1914 France, where the Orient Express is about to be wrecked when a bridge washes out. Among those on board are Al and Travis, Americans who are traveling Europe spending Travis' money, and Marie, a German girl. The boys save Marie after the wreck and Travis falls in love with her. When World War I breaks out Al wants to enlist, but Travis can't, feeling loyal to Marie, a German. By 1917 Al has enlisted, and Travis follows him shortly after marrying Marie. Accused of being a German spy by a Russian agent, she is sentenced to die but is recognized by Travis, who is part of the firing squad. The town they are in is shelled and they are all trapped underground, during which a minister makes a lengthy parallel to ancient times when the King of Akkad persecuted his subjects and defied Jehovah, who finally sends a flood to wipe out mankind, except for Noah and his family, whom ... Written by
Ron Kerrigan <,email@example.com>
A young American living in France suffers severe emotional trauma after joining the Army during the First World War. Eventually he gains enormous comfort after listening to a saintly old Minister relate the story of NOAH'S ARK & The Great Deluge, showing that the evils of the present day will also be washed away.
This movie epic is a wonderful viewing experience, with plenty of romance & excitement. Warner Brothers lavished a great deal of money on the film - and it shows. Produced right at the very cusp of the talkie era, this is a mostly silent film with some talkie sequences - which makes it quite fascinating from a technological point of view.
While perhaps it would be easy to laugh at the somewhat gauche vocal efforts of some of the cast, this would be to miss the point. Talking pictures were brand new & the entire society of movie actors were scrambling to learn how to perform in the perplexing new medium. NOAH'S ARK shows the best efforts of these particular actors at that time. Actually, Noah Beery, as the villain, uses his dramatic deep voice to good effect.
It was a favorite convention in lavish film epics of the 1920's to tell two concurrent stories: one modern & moralistic, the other from some far distant -and decadent- past. (DeMille tried this format more than once.) This gave the filmmaker the opportunity to both preach & serve-up generous quantities of sin. It also gave the actors, as here, the chance to play dual roles - each used as a counterpoint to the other.
Rugged George O'Brien & sweet Dolores Costello do fine work as the romantic leads in both stories. Guinn Williams is a stalwart support to O'Brien. Noah Beery is detestable as the wicked villain, and Paul McAllister is memorable as the Minister/Noah. Young Myrna Loy has a small part as a dancer.
Scriptural purity is not entirely adhered to in the Noah scenes; elements from the stories of Moses & Samson are interpolated and far more attention is given to the evil outside the Ark than what went on inside it. The thrilling Deluge scenes are truly epic, however, and were just as dangerous to the extras as they appear.
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