Great Political Drama One of Arliss' greatest performances
The Iron Duke
Great Political Drama One of Arliss' greatest performances.
This is a thinking man and woman's film. The script is a political one and historically accurate. The career of the Duke of Wellington from Napoleon's first escape to the fall of the Bourbon restoration is accurately portrayed with a superlative script and stellar performances/direction. How this has flown under the radar for so long is a mystery to me.
It begins in 1815 and only lasts a year. Yet the political intrigue is brilliantly portrayed, with Arliss giving one of his very greatest performances as the Duke of Wellington. The crowned heads and their advisors are portrayed as egocentric idiots, which was probably true. Political ineptitude is given great shrift in the script.
The Battle of Waterloo occurs at half point in the film and is well done in terms of editing and cinematography.
Two fun Wellington quotes, if indeed they are real are: "It is a mystery to me why the Creator wastes His time turning out ugly women; Except for defeat, there is nothing so tragic as a Great Victory."
Arliss' greatest scene occurs after Waterloo, awaiting the return of his generals and weeping at the casualty list.
The love interest is that of an infatuated young married woman, Lady Frances Webster, whose interest and companionship with Wellington is made use of to attempt to discredit him.
A truly great British film. Had there been BAFTAs then, it would probably have swept the awards.
Sadly, the only print available, even from TCM is fuzzy and pale.
Go out of your way to obtain it on DVD amongst the network of private collectors.
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