...and isn't boredom the worst cinematic experience one can have anyways? I watched Golden Dawn expecting a bore-fest full of static performances and wretched operatic screeching, having heard its reputation as the worst surviving movie musical ever made. Instead I experienced something so campy it is worthy of TCM Underground's Friday night cult film festivals.
This film definitely did not turn out like Warner Brothers expected, I'm sure. It failed at the box office and is today a very unintentionally funny film. The film is set during the first World War in Africa. It is about a native girl, Dawn (Vivienne Segal), who has supposedly been blessed by the gods to appear white, thus marking her as the future bride of the native's god - a statue that appears to be a giant likeness of Mr. Bill from the old 70's skits on Saturday Night Live. A British soldier loves Dawn, but their love is thwarted at every turn both by the fact that the occupying Europeans don't want any trouble with the natives, which they'd have if Tom Allen (Walter Woolf King) eloped with the bride of the native god, and by Shep Keyes, a native bully and strong man who wants Dawn for himself.
Shep (Noah Beery) is supposed to be an African native, yet his name and his accent are purely Gone with the Wind. Plus his black-face makeup is very obviously melting off of his body through his clothing under the hot Technicolor lights, but nobody seems to notice.
There are a large group of civilian Americans and Europeans in the story, and the reason for their presence in this remote African village is never explained. Neither is any reason given as to why they all speak like they're from Queens. One of the things in this film that does work as funny and probably intentionally so is the wiry anemic Ned Sparks-like Lee Moran as Blink and Marion Byron as Joanna, Blink's rough and bossy girlfriend. The one number that works in this film is their rendition of the Song "A Tiger", which Joanna certainly is and Blink definitely is not.
This film, made in 1930, is still using title cards to transition between scenes, something that was still common in the late Vitaphone era. However, even here there are laughs to be found. One title card reads "There was no joy among the natives. A draught was destroying them." As there is no mention of beer or wind in this film, I can only assume the title card writer meant "draught" to be "drought".
For a little over an hour of campy fun in the tradition of "The Dueling Cavalier" in Singin in the Rain, you just can't beat this one.
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