Two American soldiers are captured by the Germans on the Western Front during World War One and escape a POW camp only to stumble into further life-threatening adventures when they come across an Arabian king's daughter while on the lam.
A criminal known as Thunderbolt is imprisoned and facing execution. Into the next cell is placed Bob Moran, an innocent man who has been framed and who is in love with Thunderbolt's girl. ... See full summary »
THE PATENT LEATHER KID ranks among the great silent films. Based on the best-selling novel by Rupert Hughes, this long and ambitious film is almost two films in one.
Richard Barthelmess, who won an Oscar nomination for best actor, stars as the boxing champion known as the Patent Leather Kid because of his hair (think of Rudolph Valentino). He's a cocky fighter who, between rounds in the ring, has his fair combed while the opponent gasps for air and is washed down. Molly O'Day plays Curley, a kooch dancer who gets involved with the Kid and brings him down. She's a bad-luck gal and diverts the Kid's attentions from his business: boxing.
The comes World War I. The second half of the film shows the horrors of war as the Kid struggles in the trenches. Who should also arrive in Europe but Curley, who is now a nurse.
Both Barthelmess and O'Day are exceptional in the final scenes when the wounded Barthelmess is delivered to the hospital. He's been wounded after a n heroic deed. He's caked in muck and mud and O'Day is just superb as she wipes away the mud from his face and slowly starts to recognize the Kid. The doctor has so many casualties to deal with he's willing to let Barthelmess die because he's so badly wounded, but O'Day begs and pleads and the doctor relents. He lives but is badly crippled.
As the war grinds on there is a wonderful and moving finale involving the American flag.
Barthelmess lost the Oscar to Emil Jannings.
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