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Don Juan (1926)

In 16th Century Italy, devil-may-care playboy Don Juan runs afoul of the despotic Borgias.

Director:

Alan Crosland

Writer:

Bess Meredyth (screen play)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jane Winton ... Donna Isobel
John Roche ... Leandro
Warner Oland ... Cesare Borgia
Estelle Taylor ... Lucrezia Borgia
Montagu Love ... Count Giano Donati (as Montague Love)
Josef Swickard ... Duke Della Varnese (as Joseph Swickard)
Willard Louis ... Pedrillo
Nigel De Brulier ... Marchese Rinaldo
Hedda Hopper ... Marchesia Rinaldo
Myrna Loy ... Mai - Lady in Waiting
Mary Astor ... Adriana della Varnese
John Barrymore ... Don Jose de Marana / Don Juan de Marana
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Storyline

If there was one thing that Don Juan de Marana learned from his father Don Jose, it was that women gave you three things - life, disillusionment and death. In his father's case it was his wife, Donna Isobel, and Donna Elvira who supplied the latter. Don Juan settled in Rome after attending the University of Pisa. Rome was run by the tyrannical Borgia family consisting of Caesar, Lucrezia and the Count Donati. Juan has his way with and was pursued by many women, but it is the one that he could not have that haunts him. It will be for her that he suffers the wrath of Borgia for ignoring Lucrezia and then killing Count Donati in a duel. For Adriana, they will both be condemned to death in the prison on the river Tigre. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

character name in title | See All (1) »

Taglines:

A Super Spectacle Depicting the Romantic Adventures of THE LORD OF ALL LOVERS! (original poster) See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Romance

Certificate:

Passed
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 February 1927 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Don Juan - Der große Liebhaber See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$546,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,924,149, 31 December 1927
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Vitaphone) (musical score and sound effects)| Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although this was the first feature film with a Vitaphone soundtrack (therefore being the first film with a completely synchronized soundtrack), it is by no means the first sound film. The first sound film can be dated back to 1895; the process was re-discovered and improved by a French company (using a gramophone) in 1910. In 1913 Thomas A. Edison announced that all the problems of sound films were solved, and showed what he called "the first sound film." As in the earlier efforts, Nursery Favorites (1913) had a gramophone that appeared to synchronize with the film. There was one problem: the film was projected at the wrong speed, and the soundtrack was slowed down inadvertently. This problem happened all too often, and a frustrated Edison abandoned his process. In 1921 D.W. Griffith employed various experts to film a sound introduction for his film Dream Street (1921), which still exists, and the performance went off without a hitch. Griffith soon stopped using sound because he thought it was financial suicide, stating, "Only 5% of the world speaks English, so why should I lose 95% of my audience?" However, by 1925 sound had arrived in the form of radio, and it was inevitable that film would follow. Movie studios tried various innovations to keep audiences coming (Technicolor, wide screen, etc.). Warner Brothers, then a lesser film company, bought the old Brooklyn-based Vitagraph Studios and its all-important network of 34 film exchanges (the film distribution network vital to each studio) in 1925 and laid out plans to become a dominant force in the film industry. Sam Warner, one of the four Warner brothers, felt the future was in sound and convinced his skeptical older brother Harry M. Warner (the money man) to throw their lot in with Western Electric's 16" disc-based recording system, forming the Vitaphone Corp. on April 20, 1926, as 70% stockholders. Oddly, Sam never envisioned the system for voice synchronization; rather, he saw it as an economical way to add the dimension of musical accompaniment. The Vitaphone process solved the synchronization problem electromechanically, corresponding the projection speed with the recorded disc by utilizing the same motor for both devices. While cumbersome in both recording (editing was impossible) and playback (discs were fragile), Vitaphone represented the peak of technological innovation, albeit briefly. This film, the first Warner Bros. feature to utilize the Vitaphone process, debuted in a gala premiere on August 6, 1926, and while it was a hit, it signaled an industry format war unrivaled until the 1980s Beta-vs.-VHS battle. Warner's The Jazz Singer (1927) would become a monster hit 13 months later, solidly proving the public's interest in sound. However, there were several sound systems then in development and none were interchangeable; the major studios like MGM and Paramount adopted a wait-and-see attitude that persisted well into 1929. The most practical, Fox's Movietone (sound on film) system, eventually won out and Warners abandoned recorded discs in 1930 but kept the Vitaphone trademark before the public well into the 1940s. See more »

Goofs

This story is set during the reign of HH Alexander VI (1492-1503); however, it features very prominently the present day Basilica of Saint Peter, whose building started during the reign of HH Julius II (1503-1513), and which was not finished until the 17th century. See more »

Quotes

Cesare Borgia: This Spaniard, sweet sister, is yours to win - or mine to slay!
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Brothers Warner (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Great Profile As The Great Seducer
30 March 2009 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Although John Barrymore was 44 when he played the role of Tirso DeMolina's famous libertine, the soft focus photography enabled to look years younger and really do a convincing job as the most famous seducer in fiction. In fact Barrymore plays two roles, the dashing cavalier Don Juan and his stern father who was cuckolded by his wife and imparted some cynical views on women to his young son in a prologue.

When the main action of the film gets going it takes place in Rome when the Borgias were running things. Cesare Borgia played by Warner Oland and his evil sister Lucretia who has Estelle Taylor, then Mrs. Jack Dempsey playing her part. They're quite a pair, cruel and sadistic, and they've got a cousin played by Montagu Love who rivals Don Juan in the seducing department.

Barrymore is ostensibly in Rome as a student, but he's way too busy with his female conquests for any academics. He and Love have their eyes on the same woman, Mary Astor, who is royalty herself, related to the Orsinis who the Borgias have kicked out of power. That rivalry is what fuels the plot of this film.

Director Alan Crosland was obviously influenced by Cecil B. DeMille in directing this film. The sumptuous sets and even more the scenes of debauchery could be found in many a DeMille spectacle. And we don't get DeMille's moralizing with the film either.

As for Barrymore he plays the part with the dash and verve of Douglas Fairbanks who later got to play Don Juan, but as a much older man in Faribanks's final film during the sound era. Note the dueling sequence with Love. Warner Brothers for whom this film was produced used some of the same bits in their sound version of The Adventures Of Don Juan with Errol Flynn.

There is also a nice bit by Willard Louis as Barrymore's lackey, Pedrillo. Sad that he would die the same year as this film came out. He was quite amusing in the role.

Still it's Barrymore's show and quite a show it is. Don Juan is a good chance to see a young John Barrymore at the zenith of his acting talent.


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