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The Bright Shawl (1923)
For years it was known as Robinson's debut.
The film was shown in November at the annual Lillian and Dorothy Gish Film Festival in Massillon, Ohio (the Gish home town). It was a newly restored print and featured an extraordinarily energetic and adventurous piano accompaniment for its entire eighty minutes. As a silent picture, it had very good performances. Robinson, then only thirty years old, was given a mustache and goatee and aged to look sixty. Was Mary Astor ever seventeen?? She was in this film and looked beautiful as Robinson's daughter. Barthelmess and Dorothy Gish were fine romantic leads, and William Powell villainous as a Cuban officer. The plot is rather involved, with spies, secret messages, and gun running amongst the Cuban patriots and Spanish army. Finally seeing this film made me marvel at the craftsmanship and detail given to such works in the cinema -- eighty years ago! (The actual film debut of Robinson was seven years earlier in 1916 as an extra in "Arms and the Woman," as revealed via an unmistakable still in the book, "The War, the West, and the Wilderness," by Kevin Brownlow.)
La blonde de Pékin (1967)
It's a better film than it seemed at the time.
This was among a handful of 'sixties crime caper films with Robinson that scarcely were in the theatres before being sold to television. He is a government agent here, and his role is brief. The plot is fast-moving, moving from Europe to Hong Kong as the protagonists chase a jewel known as "the Blue Grape." The younger performers in the leads are adequate; what mars the work is the often laughable dubbing of voices. Robinson's excuse for being involved was that it gave him yet another chance to go abroad and gaze at art treasures.