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The Duke's Jester or A Fool's Revenge (1909)

Antonio Bordega, a deformed notary and his wife and baby are living happily together. Malatesta, a dissolute young noble, falls in love with Antonio's wife and carries her off to his palace... See full summary »



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Antonio Bordega, a deformed notary and his wife and baby are living happily together. Malatesta, a dissolute young noble, falls in love with Antonio's wife and carries her off to his palace. She stabs herself. They carry the body out into the street and leave it there. Antonio finds her. As she is dying she tells him that it was Malatesta who carried her off. Antonio swears revenge and taking his baby leaves the town. Fifteen Years Later. Antonio has become the Duke's Jester. In this disguise he is watching Malatesta who has married a very young wife. The Jester urges the Duke to carry off Malatesta's wife for his own secret revenge, but one of the Duke's followers has seen the Jester's daughter and comes to the Duke and tells him of her beauty. The Duke and his follower watch the meeting between the Jester and his daughter and the Duke falls in love with her and determines to carry her off. The poet, Dell Aquilla, overhears this and determines to save the Jester's daughter. He ... Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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Short | Drama




Release Date:

22 June 1909 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Too many persons in these gorgeous court scenes
21 October 2014 | by See all my reviews

The source of the "book" of this picture is Italian, and the story itself has been made the basis of opera, novel and play times out of number. It is a very powerful story and yet a very simple one. A man's wife is torn from him and killed, and the child afterwards becomes a beautiful girl at the court of which her own father is jester. The father nourishes revenge, and in carrying that revenge into effect he sacrifices the honor of a woman to the lust of a villain, and discovers, when it is too late, that it is his own daughter who is the victim of his vindictiveness. This is the main thread of the story, which the exigencies of dramatic construction, either in novel, book or operatic form, occasionally allows to be varied. In selecting the subject for film treatment the Vitagraph Company has shown very considerable enterprise and great boldness. The story unfolds a series of elaborately mounted scenes. There are innumerable characters, all richly garbed, and, on the whole, with the series of pictures of Italian court life, the eye is undoubtedly pleased. It is a trial, of course, for American actors and actresses to attempt to simulate the manners, customs and emotions of Italian people of a past century; in fact, it is an enterprise of a very hazardous character. For the Italians, like the French, are born actors and actresses, which makes it all the more difficult for persons of a non-Latin origin to enter into their feelings; hence the extremely daring experiment of the Vitagraph producer. On the whole, he has come wonderfully well through an exceedingly difficult ordeal. In our opinion, however, he handicapped himself somewhat by overcrowding his canvas. There are. we venture to think, too many persons in these gorgeous court scenes. The work involved was surely not less than that which would be demanded in the production of a first-class historical drama at a Broadway theater. The wonder is, therefore, that the producer of this piece did so well with the enormous amount of material at his command. Here and there we thought that the action flagged; here and there, too, individual characters walked through rather than acted their parts. Murder and abduction were played in a very simple and unexciting way. But little minor deficiencies of this kind are inevitable in a production which seeks to compress into twenty minutes a wealth of acting which has held the greatest stages in the world for an entire evening. Operatically and dramatically, "The Fool"has given some of the best artists of the times their most ambitious opportunities. "The Duke's Jester" shows that the Vitagraph Company is in real earnest in grappling with the problems that lie before the maker of moving picture films, and determines to place itself in the front rank by sheer force of quality. Scenic, photographic and other good qualities are visible in this splendid picture. It is so good that we are justified in looking for yet further improvement in the dramatic and producing departments from the capable hands that have put this ambitious "Duke's Jester" before the public. - The Moving Picture World, June 26, 1909

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