Vladimir Dubrouvsky, a lieutenant in the Russian army, catches the eye of Czarina Catherine II. He spurns her advances and flees, and she puts out a warrant for his arrest, dead or alive. Vladimir learns that his father's lands have been taken by the evil Kyrilla Troekouroff, and his father dies. He dons a black mask, and becomes the outlaw The Black Eagle. He enters the Troekouroff household disguised as a French instructor for Kyrilla's daughter Mascha. He is after vengeance, but instead falls in love with Mascha.Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The story is set during the reign of Catherine the Great, who died in 1796, but the clothing styles are much closer to those worn in the early 19th century. And at one point Vladimir lights a candle with a friction match, which weren't invented until 1826. See more »
Killiam Shows, Inc. copyrighted a restored, tinted and scored version in 1971, currently available on video with running time of 72 minutes. The restoration was done by Karl Malkames and the theater organ score was by Lee Irwin. See more »
Just the right mixture of romance, humour, and swashbuckling
Worried that Valentino's screen image had become effete after the somewhat arty pictures he had made with his now estranged wife, his studio found him a part that was 100% male but would still include the lovemaking his female audience loved (it turned out the studio chose well-- going by fan mail, this movie proved equally popular with men and women).
Valentino's role of Vladimir Dubrowski in "The Eagle,"--a sort of Cossack Robin Hood--was obviously influenced by the Douglas Fairbanks movies, but it's no pallid rip-off. Whereas Fairbanks, much like a male lead in a Spielberg film, tends to keep the hugging and kissing to a minimum, Valentino, although he can handle a sword very skilfully, makes the film his own by balancing the swashbuckling with plenty of wooing. He also shows that he was not above poking fun at his persona as a lady killer, as when besotted by the female lead he overloads his soup with pepper (the die hard Valentino haters always overlook this self depreciating side to his performances).
The other performers are strong tooJames Marcus is repugnant as the corrupt and cowardly aristocrat Kyrilla who has ruined Vladimir's father (but somehow pathetic in his final scenes when he realizes he has lost his daughter); Louise Dresser is amusing and touching as the post menopausal and horny czarina who becomes murderous when Dubrowski resists her advances, and Vilma Banky is sweet but assertive as the best romantic heroines are, and very affecting in the scenes in which she is torn between her attraction to Dubrowski and her filial love for her unworthy father.
The film also sets itself apart from the Fairbanks sort of swashbuckling epic (in which the hero is usually content to mete out punishment to wrongdoers) by raising the question that that maybe vengeance should be left to God rather than men and that as Mascha points out to Vladimir a life totally motivated by hate is a wasted one. In fact the script is so much on the side of forgiveness that even the ruthless Czarina, after a last minute change of heart about Vladimir's execution, is allowed a happy ending--and a more age appropriate suitor.
All in all, a very fine comeback vehicle for Valentinobut how sad that it proved to be his penultimate film.
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