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The swallowing of the William Fox product, by the Twentieth Century Fox company which followed it, made this one vanish for the better part of (gulp) a century but dodgy DVD has brought it back - a major clue in the mystery of Erich Charrell, director of the greatest Operetta film CONGRESS DANCES and author of that amiable repertory standard "White Horse Inn," who made only these two films.
For the first part it looks like an over produced return to CONGRESS, even using a couple of the Viennese waltz numbers from that score and swimming in unnecessary costume extras. The predictable plot unites gypsy fiddler Boyer with city-raised heiress Young, who refuses an arranged marriage with C. Aubrey Smith's nephew. However once we get the scene where the army marches in to subdue the gypsy revolution and, on the order "Hands up!", Boyer's lot (who include a tame bear)raise musical instruments, as the girls pour out and pair with the troops, we can see the elements of the best films of Willi Forst or Ludwig Berger creep in. This starts with a minute plus single take. The arrival of the dissolute nephew, Philip Holmes uncharacteristically dashing, creates a genuine dramatic tension in the work as it becomes possible for Loretta to pair with either one.
The night, where Holmes finds "spirited" Jean Parker in the deserted gypsy camp, has the mood of ZOO IN BUDAPEST. This success could have had many fathers. However it disappeared from movie goer awareness and most physical distribution and never acquired the status of GREAT WALTZ.
The film could have been trimmed to advantage and it doesn't have the bite of Feyder's not dissimilar DAYBREAK but it certainly repays attention and leaves the viewer deploring the absence of more Charrell movies.
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