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The story of the rise of the Rothschild financial empire founded by Mayer Rothschild and continued by his five sons. From humble beginnings the business grows and helps to finance the war against Napoleon, but it's not always easy, especially because of the prejudices against Jews. Written by
Col Needham <email@example.com>
Made shortly after Hitler came to power in Nazi Germany, hence the depiction of Boris Karloff's character with his anti-Semite stance. Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels instead of banning the film had it re-edited to play up an anti-Jewish viewpoint. See more »
You won your fight with me, Jew, but remember, victory may have been won too dearly.
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Five brothers, born & raised in a Jewish ghetto at the end of the 18th Century. Taught by their parents in the ways of international finance & commerce, but above all in living a life of dignity as Jews. Five brothers who grew to establish banks wielding enormous power from the five great European capitals
Frankfurt, London, Paris, Vienna, Naples - yet who always
worked together for the common goal of peace in Europe & the destruction of tyranny. Five brothers united as THE HOUSE OF ROTHSCHILD.
In this lavish film, Mr. George Arliss gives yet another splendid history lesson and this time the old fellow gets to play two roles: Mayer Amschel Rothschild, the founder of the dynasty; and eldest son Nathan Rothschild, who established the London branch of the family. As always, Arliss is fascinating to watch, his every twitch conveying significance & meaning. It is a shame he is almost forgotten today, as he was a marvelous actor.
But he does not act alone here. Indeed, his co-stars are quite accomplished. As in so many of his films, his real-life wife Florence Arliss plays his (Nathan's) spouse and is charming, as usual. The somewhat obtrusive romantic subplot is handled by the two Youngs, Loretta & Robert, who look lovely & handsome respectively. Helen Westley is exceptional as Mayer's wife Gudula, the matriarch of the family. Also on hand are Reginald Owen, Alan Mowbray, Ivan Simpson, Ethel Griffies & wonderful old Sir C. Aubrey Smith as the Duke of Wellington - it is a particular treat to watch his scenes with Arliss.
A rather subdued & urbane Boris Karloff is the villain of the film, playing a Prussian nobleman who delights in being anti-Semitic. Pains are taken to show the evils inflected upon Continental Jewry during the age of repression & pogroms and it is important to remember that this film was produced in 1934, as Evil was once again raising its head in Central Europe. The ideas of men in the 19th Century, such as Karloff portrays here, would lead inexorably to the gas chambers & furnaces of Nazi Germany in the 20th. Forget Frankenstein's Monster. This was Karloff's most horrific role.
In the last 4 minutes, the movie turns from black & white to beautiful early Technicolor, a delight to the eyes.
There are a couple of glaring historical inaccuracies in the movie that must be pointed out. Nathan was not the elder of Mayer's sons - in fact he was the 3rd born. And it was not he, but his grandson, another Nathan, who was raised to the peerage to become Baron Rothschild in 1885, 49 years after the death of his grandfather. Trifling, yet significant.
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