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
One of only two films to win a directing Oscar without also being nominated for best picture, the other being The Divine Lady (1928). See more »
Mirza writes a note, crumples it up, and throws it down to Phelps and O'Gaffney. When Phelps reads it later the paper is smooth with one crease in it, as if it had been folded. See more »
The magic of an Asia Minor moon.
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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 »
William Boyd and Louis Wolheim are the "Two Arabian Knights" referred to in the title, humorously. The pair start out as U.S. POWs trying to escape from the Germans during World War I. Eventually, they find themselves on board a ship bound for Arabia. While tripping out to the Middle East, they rescue an Arab woman, Mary Astor, who turns out to be a Princess; and, of course, becomes a romantic interest for the "Two Arabian Knights". No points for guessing who wins the veiled Ms. Astor!
The film is very well photographed and directed; Lewis Milestone has wonderful sets, and stages scenes beautifully. Of the performances, Mr. Wolheim stands out - he creates a character so understandable you can almost hear him speak, trough the film is silent. The story isn't as strong as it could be - there are some events and sequences which had me wondering how and why the characters' locale changed. The last looks, exchanged between one of the stars and an extra, is an example of something I didn't understand. Perhaps these were comic bits which had a particular appeal for the time.
The film is damaged in several places; but there is enough preserved, in even these scenes, to allow your mind to fill in the visual blanks. Boris Karloff appears as the "Purser"; watch for his big scene on ship, when Wolheim goes into a room with him for some money (what actually happens is a mystery). Early in the film, there is a long scene with a lot of naked men shown from the waist up (or, thereabouts); they are POWs being herded to the showers. Director Milestone uses parades of soldiers moving to great effect; this "shower" scene is different in that several of the men don't look as Caucasian as you might expect.
******* Two Arabian Knights (9/23/27) Lewis Milestone ~ William Boyd, Louis Wolheim, Mary Astor
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