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The Conquering Power (1921)

TV-G | | Drama, Romance | 8 July 1921 (USA)
After losing his father, a playboy moves in with his miserly uncle, who seeks to cheat him out of his inheritance.



, (story "Eugénie Grandet")


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Cast overview:
... Eugenie Grandet
... Charles Grandet
... Pere Grandet
... Mere Grandet (as Edna Demaurey)
Bridgetta Clark ... Madame des Grassins
Mark Fenton ... Monsieur des Grassins
Ward Wing ... Adolphe des Grassins
... Victor Grandet
... Notary Cruchot
George Atkinson ... Bonfons Cruchot
Willard Lee Hall ... Abbé Cruchot
Mary Hearn ... Nanon
Eugene Pouyet ... Cornoiller
Andrée Tourneur ... Annette


Young playboy Charles Grandet is sent to live with his miserly uncle after his father loses his fortune. He and his cousin Eugenie fall in love, but his uncle sends him away and tries to arrange a marriage more to his liking (and profit!). Will true love triumph? Written by Robert Tonsing <rtonsing@ti.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance





Release Date:

8 July 1921 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Eugenie Grandet  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Victor Grandet: [in a letter read by his brother Pere Grandet] My dear brother, After twenty years, I am sending my son to you for by the time this letter reached you, I shall be no more. My entire fortune has been swept away by speculation on the stock market. I owe millions. In three days all Paris will say I was a rogue and I shall be wrapped in a winding sheet of infamy. My dying prayer is that you will be a father to my boy and may God bless you as you fulfill this trust. Your despairing brother, Victor ...
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Version of Eugenie Grandet (1946) See more »

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User Reviews

Effective, if unfaithful, adaptation of Balzac's novel
29 August 2005 | by See all my reviews

Even though Rudolph Valentino is billed as the lead (in the version I saw, anyway) he is not on screen all that much and is more of a supporting character. It is really the story of Pere Grandet (well played by Ralph Lewis) and how his life has been, figuratively and literally, crushed by gold (the final scenes in which he is trapped in his cellar with the ghosts of people his greed has destroyed and is taunted by a snake-armed, leering golden demon are very disturbing). Still, even though his role was comparatively small, Valentino makes a strong impression as Charles Grandet, the spoilt son of a rich man whose essential decency, like that of Julio Desnoyer, is brought out by adversity and the love of a good woman . At the beginning of the movie he is hosting a wild birthday party for himself, but twenty minutes into the picture his father has committed suicide and Charles has become dependent on his wealthy but miserly uncle, Pere Grandet . At his uncle's home he meets and falls in love with his beautiful country mouse of a cousin, Eugenie, played by Alice Terry whose ethereal blondeness contrasts well with Valentino's dark good looks and who with the possible exception of Vilma Banky was his most memorable leading lady.

Objections have been sometimes raised to the liberties the screenwriter, June Mathis, took with Balzac's novel. A title card at the beginning of the picture tells the audience that "commercialization" has told the producers that it dislike costume pictures; evidently commercialism also told them that audiences don't like unhappy endings or unlikable leads, hence the sentimentalizing of the original story in which Charles Grandet and Eugenie are happily reunited at the end of the film. In the novel, Charles wastes Eugenie's gold and quickly forgets about her (making her gift seem more rash than romantic), and the conquering power does indeed turn out to be greed, not love as the movie would have it. If one is able to accept the movie on its own term (which of course can be difficult if you're familiar with the original source), Mathis's changes work well enough, however. Other complaints about the movie have involved the disorienting change of setting from Paris to the countryside--in the Paris scenes the people are dressed in modern (1920's) fashions, but the clothing and lifestyles of the country people has a very nineteenth century look to them. It is conceivable, however, that in the days before modern media had permeated everywhere fashions in isolated villages would change more slowly.

On the whole, this is one Valentino's stronger movies—it was a shame that irreconcilable professional and personal differences between Rex Ingram and Valentino led to the latter's departure from Metro shortly afterwards as there he was being offered the sort of quality scripts he would spent the rest of his short career trying to find.

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