Idealistic farm boy Peter loves Amy whose fancy is urbane Harry. He discovers Harry is a rum runner and turns him over to prohibition agents, including Jane. May is at last impressed with ... See full summary »
William A. Wellman
George K. Arthur,
Eight-hour epic based on the book of the same name by Leo Tolstoy. Two main story-lines are complex and intertwined. One is the love story of young Countess Natasha Rostova and Count Pierre... See full summary »
Nolff, a tough Breton fisherman is happy: his wife has just given birth to a son, Michel. His only wish is to make him a fisherman like him. But when he becomes a man, Michel becomes a ... See full summary »
In one of the most-used plots of the B-western genre, sometimes officially and sometimes just "borrowed" (see Movie Connections), Sunset Carson (Sunset Carson) is a member of an outlaw gang... See full summary »
I wasn't expecting this film to be as much fun to watch as it is. The backstage storyline features extravagant costumes, sets and makeup, and delightful comic bits. The audience cheered when a painting on a curtain "came to life" in a comical way. Some of the bits used were obviously stolen from Houdini, but it's always fun to see them filmed, even if Harry isn't there. A favorite player was the performing goose, who wears prop spectacles and hats when onstage. Director William Wellman knows how to put activity into a frame, so even during some of the slower conversational parts, there are often acrobats whirling by in the background. But he also knows when to tone this sort of thing down; the dramatic, emotional moments are allowed to have space. A scene where someone is trying to flee danger is shot in an effective, film-noir manner.
The players acquit themselves admirably. Florence Vidor is luminous, and, as Jeanine Basinger has written, created a heroine who is an interesting hybrid of the independent flapper and the traditional damsel-in-distress. Clive Brook is highly sympathetic as the intelligent lover. I was less sure of Lowell Sherman's casting: I couldn't figure out what Vidor's character would have seen in him. However, it's possible that a more appealing actor would have stacked the deck too heavily against Brook; both leading men were about 40 at the time of filming. (I was surprised to find that Vidor was close to 30; she appears 15-20 years younger than the men, perhaps partly due to makeup and lighting.)
The one thing I didn't like about the film was the suggestion that women who don't love the "right" man should be punished for it. I think the storyline did a decent job of resolving this issue--I can't explain without spoilers--but given the murderous intentions of some incel types, that's not a good idea to champion (which was also true then).
The lighting was magnificent in many scenes. The version I saw also had some beautiful tinting. I hope the film will be played often, so more people can enjoy it.
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