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This documentary on the life and films of the great Douglas Fairbanks is obviously a labor of love by people who care a great deal about the impact that he made on film. Using the knowledge and personal from the Douglas Fairbanks Museum in Texas, they have put together a very informative telling of his growing up years, becoming a hit on Broadway and making it even bigger in movies. Quality of clips varies greatly, but there is a lot to see and enjoy in this 90 minute effort. While the technical side of the sound may not match more professional efforts, the film actually does an excellent job of covering his career. Seeing clips from some of Fairbanks early comedy efforts makes one wish that prints of these films survived in better condition. Also included on the flip side of the DVD are two feature length Fairbanks films: THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1921) and it's 1929 follow-up THE IRON MASK, here presented in its original release format (it was later re-edited for a sound re-issue). While the music tracks for the features is poor, it does give one the opportunity to see two major Fairbanks films. The DVD is offered for a very low price. If you have an interest in the great Douglas Fairbanks, you'll certainly enjoy the documentary.
Douglas Fairbanks: The Great Swashbuckler (2005)
*** (out of 4)
Keri Leigh (Curator Fairbanks Museum), Annette Lloyd (Celebrity Biographer) and Sparrow Morgan (Film Historian) discuss the life and films of silent screen legend Douglas Fairbanks who was the original swashbuckler. The documentary talks about Fairbanks early childhood, him getting interested in acting, working with D.W. Griffith, meeting Mary Pickford and then moving into some of the greatest silent action pictures. The 90-minute documentary does a very good job at going through Fairbanks entire career and especially through some of his sound pictures, which is good because they're often completely overlooked or not discussed at all. Of course, his relationship with Pickford gets a lot of the attention as we hear about how the two met, their love affair and the wait they both went through before getting married. Their legendary home is discussed in detail as is their eventual break-up. Those unfamiliar with the work of Fairbanks will certainly enjoy this as you really do get a lot of information and there are plenty of clips shown from his films. There are some funny stories about his original contract and how he originally only wanted to work with Griffith but the legendary director wasn't thrilled with his acting style and didn't know what to do with him. There are also some other funny stories about Pickford and Fairbanks allowing fans, media and friends to their home and the actor refusing to serve alcohol while it was illegal. I think the one problem is that the interviews were filmed rather cheaply, with some poor sound and I never could tell if they were reading from cue cards or what.
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