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.
Americans Sgt. Peter O'Gaffney and one of his soldiers, privileged "pretty boy" W. Daingerfield Phelps III (who is always drawing caricatures), are captured and interred at a POW camp in Northern Germany near the end of WWI. Their relationship has always been an antagonistic one based on what Phelps sees as O'Gaffney pushing him around. O'Gaffney's rank is despite being wanted by the police back home as a con man. It is because of these differences that their resulting friendship at camp is so unlikely, the friendship based on both having the nerve to attempt to escape. On a snow covered day, they do manage to escape, in part by stealing white robes to camouflage themselves against the snow. In their adventures and misadventures on the outside in trying to get to safety, those adventures which include being mistaken for Arab prisoners, they find themselves as stowaways on board a cargo ship headed to Arabia. It is there that they meet a beautiful Arab woman named Mirza, who they save ...Written by
Lewis Milestone won an Oscar, then called the First Award, for Direction (Comedy Picture), the first and only year that category appeared in the Academy Awards. Milestone beat the only other nominee in the category, Ted Wilde for Harold Lloyd's Speedy (1928). Charles Chaplin had originally been announced as a Best Comedy Director nominee for The Circus (1928), but subsequently was removed from the category (his nomination for Best Actor also was rescinded) and given a special Honorary Award. Milestone won a second Oscar for directing All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), which featured Louis Wolheim in a World War 1 setting, and was nominated one more time, for The Front Page (1931). See more »
When O'Gaffney has his feet up on the table, and is told that per local custom he's insulting others present by doing that, he takes his feet down twice. See more »
In 2004, The University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Flicker Alley, LLC copyrighted a new digital version with a new orchestral score composed, arranged and conducted by Robert Israel. It was produced by Jeffery Masino and runs 92 minutes. See more »
Turner Classic Movies showed this silent, B&W flick today (Aug 29, 2007) on TV.
Solid classic adventure story, complete with all of the key ingredients: exotic plot locations, a beautiful woman in peril, a pair of dauntless and resourceful heroes (one of them handsome, the other colorful) grossly outnumbered by badguys, sprinkled with comic relief. Great costumes and sets; as good or better than those of current movies. Surprising variety of camera craft and directorship; pans and zooms including overhead angles, and closeups of key characters and objects. In this regard again it seems like a modern movie! Actions convey the story very well; without the benefit of a soundtrack. Of course, this entails a considerable degree of live type acting (similar to that seen in plays), but I did not get a feeling of melodrama like is all too common in most silent films and early sound movies.
The most enjoyable performance is played by Louis Wolheim as the rough edged but colorful Sgt. Peter O'Gaffney, who was *perfectly* casted for the role; considering both appearance and skill.
There were at least a few peculiar facts about Muslim society that I had previously learned over the past several years, which added to my appreciation of the story in the area of historical accuracy.
My favorite scene was when the heroes are fleeing a swarm of dangerous, sword wielding Arabs through the narrow streets of a busy Muslim city. Suddenly though the chase is interrupted by an oblivious imam who pops out onto an exterior balcony to announce that it's time for afternoon prayer. Everyone out on the streets (except for the heroes) religiously obeys Islamic law and momentarily kneels down, which allows the heroes to escape. That scene was just one example of the film's many expressions of originality.
After seeing this movie I better realize how extensively modern movies contain rehashed ideas that were pioneered decades earlier.
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