This is a rather bizarre film that has been forgotten over the years but it does have some historical importance to it as it earned Paul Muni his first Best Actor Oscar nomination. As the film starts off we witness him killing a man and then turning himself into the police. He refuses to give his real name, defend himself or explain anything so he is sentenced to die. On a farm in Ohio, a mother sees his picture in the paper and believes that he is her son that went missing over a decade earlier so she sends her daughter (Marguerite Churchill) to see. THE VALIANT really isn't a good movie but there are some interesting things going on in it that makes it worth viewing for film buffs. The biggest reason are for the performances, which are all fairly good. This includes Muni who looks so incredibly young here. It's rather fun to see him in a performance like this because it's so different from what we'd see later in his life and especially in stuff like SCARFACE. What really caught me off guard was how laid back Muni was in the part and the restraint he showed by not going over-the-top or reaching for some sort of melodrama. Churchill is also very good in her role as the possible sister. DeWitt Jennings does a nice job as the warden of the prison and we even have Johnny Mack Brown playing the sister's fiancé. On a technical level the film is also rather impressive and especially the audio, which is among the best I've ever heard from an early talkie. The cinematography is also quite impressive for the time and especially some tracking shots that are seen early on. With that being said, the story itself really isn't a very strong one and you can't help but grow somewhat frustrated that there's not a better pay off to the story. There are also a few scenes that come off way too stagey and this here takes the film down a few notches. With that said, fans of Muni or early sound films will want to check this out and at 61-minutes the thing never gets boring.
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