With King Ranjit visiting him, King Sohat sees an opportunity to kill his young cousin and take over his kingdom. One of Sohat's henchmen fells Ranjit with a poisoned arrow, making it look ... See full summary »
One of the first feminist movies, The Smiling Madame Beudet is the story of an intelligent woman trapped in a loveless marriage. Her husband is used to playing a stupid practical joke in ... See full summary »
Vladimir Dubrouvsky, a lieutenant in the Russian army, catches the eye of Czarina Catherine II. He spurns her advances and flees, and she puts out a warrant for his arrest, dead or alive. Vladimir learns that his father's lands have been taken by the evil Kyrilla Troekouroff, and his father dies. He dons a black mask, and becomes the outlaw The Black Eagle. He enters the Troekouroff household disguised as a French instructor for Kyrilla's daughter Mascha. He is after vengeance, but instead falls in love with Mascha. Written by
John Oswalt <email@example.com>
The story is set during the reign of Catherine the Great, who died in 1796, but the clothing styles are much closer to those worn in the early 19th century. And at one point Vladimir lights a candle with a friction match, which weren't invented until 1826. See more »
This is an astonishing film, breathtakingly shot by George Barnes, which reveals how powerful the silent film could be. Like many silents this film is not about its plot but about the minutia of human behaviour and emotion. The moment when Valentino touches Banky's neck you can feel her thrill - her eyes moisten with passion. This is the kind of moment that the talkies had trouble with - words spoil the ecstasy of first touch - as many of the silent screen's great lovers found when they entered talkies. But Valentino did not live to make a talkie - and his legend is probably grateful.
He is exceptional in this period romp through the Russia of Catherine the Great. Vilma Banky matches him superbly - she has the ethereal beauty of Garbo. James Marcus is fun as the baddie, but Louise Dresser is brilliant as Catherine the Great. The scene where she attempts to "take advantage" of Valentino is extraordinary - and a great step forward for female liberation.
Combine these performances with the genius of Clarence Brown, the costumes of Adrian (which are intentionally not quite of the right period having a distinctive 1920's feel), and the production design of William Cameron Menzies and you have a masterpiece. It will surprise you at every turn, and the tracking shots are truly magnificent - especially that banquet scene! Don't miss it - and if you get the version with Carl Davis' score you are in for a real treat.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?