All of those handsome young men in their flying machines are billeted in a field next to the Widow Berthelot's farmhouse in France. Her daughter Jeannine is curious about the young men ...
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Rowland V. Lee
All of those handsome young men in their flying machines are billeted in a field next to the Widow Berthelot's farmhouse in France. Her daughter Jeannine is curious about the young men fighting for England in World War I and their airplanes. Then one of the aviators is killed. His replacement is Captain Philip Blythe who can't help but notice Jeannine. When he lands the first time, she is standing in the middle of his "runway." She makes a more favorable impression when he sees her later by the lilacs. When all of the young men depart on a mission, Blythe promises to return. Written by
Dale O'Connor <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I cannot let you go, my Philip - I cannot let you go.
Capt. Philip Blythe:
Jeannie, I'll come back no matter what happens. I will get back somehow.
I will wait for you, my Philip - all my life I'll wait here for you.
Goodbye, Lilac Time, my very heart says - je t'aime - I love you - I love you.
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Lilac Time which starred Colleen Moore was a big boost to the career of Gary Cooper. He played the British flier who was stationed on a base at Colleen Moore's farm during the World War. He cuts quite a dashing figure as a British air ace and son of British General Burr McIntosh.
This film is a great example of the universality of silent films where the very American speaking Cooper and Moore could get away with playing a British and a French national respectively. In Cooper's career afterward, when playing in a foreign setting it was always explained he was Canadian, he was one of the first of Hollywood leading men to have that gambit used when sound arrived. But in the silent era the only demand was that one be photogenic and no one was more photogenic than Gary Cooper.
Lilac Time was a play written by and starring Jane Cowl on Broadway during the 1917 season. It was one of Cowl's bigger hits on Broadway and a pity she didn't do the screen version. It concerns a small base of the Royal Flying Corps established on the farm of Eugene Besserer and her daughter Colleen Moore. Moore is something of a mascot to the men, but when she spots Cooper she doesn't want to be thought of as a pet.
As for Cooper he's got a fiancé back home, one of those aristocratic arranged marriages and his fiancé is played by Kathryn McGuire. At first he and Moore do not get along, he regards her as a nuisance. But the chemistry kicks in after a while.
Lilac Time made at the tail end of the silent era was one of the first films to have a music score written for it. The copy I have is a compilation of old World War I era ballads, but with the popular standard written expressly for this film, Jeannine, I Dream Of Lilac Time. This was one of the first songs written directly for the screen, albeit for a silent film. It and the rest of the score is done on a Wurlitzer organ and the song makes this film a candidate for revivals at festivals. Gene Austin had a big selling record of this song in 1928 when the film came out.
Viewed over 80 years after it came out, Lilac Time still holds up very well, a bit melodramatic, but a nice romance.
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