9 user 6 critic

When the Clouds Roll by (1919)

Psychiatrist Dr. Ulrich Metz attempts to drive Daniel Brown to suicide.


Victor Fleming


Thomas J. Geraghty (scenario) (as T.J.G.)




Cast overview:
Douglas Fairbanks ... Daniel Boone Brown
Albert MacQuarrie ... Hobson
Kathleen Clifford ... Lucette Bancroft
Frank Campeau ... Mark Drake
Ralph Lewis ... Curtis Brown
Herbert Grimwood Herbert Grimwood ... Dr. Ulrich Metz
Daisy Jefferson Daisy Jefferson ... Bobby De Vere
Bull Montana ... The Nightmare
Victor Fleming ... Self
Thomas J. Geraghty Thomas J. Geraghty ... Self (as T.J.G.)
William C. McGann William C. McGann ... Self
Harris Thorpe Harris Thorpe ... Self


The comfortable and amiable Daniel Boone Brown, a resident of New York's water front, becomes the victim of a mad scientist's psychological experiments. For days, Dr. Ulrich Metz messes up Daniel's life, bringing on failing health, restless sleep, a nervous and irritable disposition, tardiness for work, and superstitions that cause worry and fear. Several months into the ordeal, one of Metz's minions, hired as Daniel's livery, feeds him a midnight snack of spring onions, lobster, Welsh rarebit and mince pie. We see the contents of his stomach causing pain and distress; then he has vivid and surreal nightmares. Will Metz succeed in driving Daniel to suicide? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Don't miss it! And you'll never forget the great flood scenes - a real honest-to-goodness flood - that sweeps his sweetheart back to him. See more »


Action | Comedy | Romance


Did You Know?


Directorial debut of Victor Fleming. See more »

Crazy Credits

Writer Thomas Geraghty is credited only by his initials. See more »


Featured in I, Douglas Fairbanks (2018) See more »

User Reviews

Don't let this cloud roll by
11 March 2020 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Don't let the plot summary here fool you. It is indicative of 'When the Clouds Roll By' being a depressing film with the danger of taking things too seriously. It is actually the opposite, while not treating the subject as too much of a joke. Anyway, saw the film for a number of reasons, including being intrigued by the title, highly appreciating silent films, liking other Douglas Fairbanks films and finding him always a very engaging performer.

'When the Clouds Roll By' is something of a little gem. Sadly like others have said, one that doesn't have anywhere near enough attention despite absolutely deserving to. It is one of the stranger and wildest (in a good way) silent films but is also one of the most entertaining and most charming. Oh and it was very interesting seeing an early effort from Victor Fleming and a silent one, being more familiar with his more acclaimed work like the timeless 'The Wizard of Oz' and 'Gone with the Wind', for me this is one of his best earlier work. If you want to get more with his early work, 'When the Clouds Roll By' is a good place to start.

It holds up well visually, some quite creative touches here and there and nothing comes over as primitive. The dream sequence and climax (those effects) stand out in this regard. Fleming never lets the momentum or fun slip, hard to believe actually that this was actually his debut which inexplicably was not mentioned by me above.

The fun never stops and neither does the energy, after such a dark time for the world not long before this must have been a refreshing watch at the time providing that people felt like it was the right time. It also felt refreshing to me now, after such recent unsettlement some escapism like this was much needed. Dream sequences don't usually get this deliciously strange and the climax is quite jaw dropping.

Likewise with the stunts, some of the boldest and most athletic pre-prime Buster Keaton. Fairbanks is utterly delightful, a bundle of charismatic energy while not over-exaggerating. The story is occasionally on the convoluted side but that is overlookable because everything else is so superb.

Concluding, a terrific film and deserving of more attention. 9/10

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None | English

Release Date:

28 December 1919 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cheer Up See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Black and White (color toned)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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