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The Secret Hour (1928)

The Secret Hour is a lost 1928 silent film romance drama directed by Rowland V. Lee and starring Pola Negri. It is based on the 1924 Broadway play, They Knew What They Wanted by Sidney ... See full summary »

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Loves of an Actress is a lost 1928 silent film romance directed by Rowland V. Lee and starring Pola Negri. It was produced by Adolph Zukor and Jesse Lasky with the distribution through ... See full summary »

Director: Rowland V. Lee
Stars: Pola Negri, Nils Asther, Mary McAllister
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Cast

Cast overview:
... Amy
... Tony
... Joe
Christian J. Frank ... Sam
George Kuwa ... Ah Gee
... Doctor
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Storyline

The Secret Hour is a lost 1928 silent film romance drama directed by Rowland V. Lee and starring Pola Negri. It is based on the 1924 Broadway play, They Knew What They Wanted by Sidney Howard. It was produced by Paramount Famous Lasky Corporation and distributed through Paramount Pictures.

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Drama | Romance

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4 February 1928 (USA)  »

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Sun Kissed  »

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1.33 : 1
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The film is based on the Broadway production of "They Knew What They Wanted" by Sidney Howard opened on November 24, 1924 at the Garrick Theater, ran for 192 performances and won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1925. See more »

Connections

Version of They Knew What They Wanted (1940) See more »

Soundtracks

The Beggar
words by Francis Wheeler and Irving Kahal
music by Ted Snyder
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Orange juice sorry
27 September 2002 | by See all my reviews

"The Secret Hour" is the first film version of Sidney Howard's 1925 play "They Knew what They Wanted", which was remade twice and later became the basis for Frank Loesser's most ambitious Broadway musical, "The Most Happy Fella", which - criminally - has never been filmed at all.

This silent version - spiced up with an irrelevant new title - features some interesting changes from Howard's play, apparently to make it less earthy. As the play is well known, I'll just state the premise. Jean Hersholt plays Tony, the coarse and ugly Italian immigrant owner of a successful orange ranch in California. In a visit to a lunchroom, he spots a simple and very beautiful waitress named Annie (Pola Negri). Tony is infatuated instantly, but he senses that such a beautiful and refined-looking girl would never be attracted to him. Tony is a hard-working man but he's barely literate and can hardly speak English. (Some of Hersholt's "mama mia" dialogue is quite painful to read off the title cards.) Apparently inspired by Cyrano de Bergerac, Tony asks his handsome and well-spoken young foreman Joe to write a letter to Annie, proposing marriage, and signing Tony's name. Tony intends to slip a snapshot of himself into the envelope. But, at the last moment, he glances at his ugly face in the mirror and has a sudden failure of nerve. He puts a photo of Joe into the envelope instead, and mails it off ... hoping that Annie will correspond with him by post, rather than come to see him in person. Of course, Annie shows up in person. Of course, Joe and Annie fall in love. The plot thickens. The oranges ripen. (They were grapes in the original play.)

Pola Negri is remembered as one of the dark-eyed vamps of the silent era, usually mentioned in the same breath as Theda Bara. She's utterly fascinating here, in a good-girl role, without the slinky costumes and vampy make-up that she usually wore. Rowland V. Lee, an under-rated director, does one of his better jobs here. Well done all round, but Howard's play worked better as a sound film ... and best of all as Frank Loesser's delightfully operatic musical.


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