Review

  • Noah's Ark is an awkward fit of two earth shaking cataclysms ( the legendary animal cruise and the World War ) featuring the same actors in parallel roles and stories in this semi-silent that resembles Griffith's Intolerance. The problem is most of it deals with the contemporary story that never approaches the sublime but does attain the ridiculous with its absurd ending.

    Al (Guinn Williams) and Travis (George O'Brien) rescue Mary (Dolores Costello) from a train wreck. Travis and Mary, a German, link up but when the Great War begins Al answers the call while Travis remains conflicted but eventually signs up. Mary meanwhile sings in a revue but is accused of being a spy and sentenced to be shot. The Ark segment has the same lovers in a similar predicament pursued by the same power abusing miscreant (Noah Beery).

    O'Brien and Costello make a good pairing in both stories along with Beery's vile villain but the big star of the picture is the flood in which the callous Curtiz more than earned his slave driving reputation by drowning three extras and injuring dozens of others. It is evident from the force and amount of water that extras are struggling not acting in these scenes as they are tossed like rag dolls over the jagged scenery. They are visually astounding to watch but clearly cross the line with the endangerment posed and loss of life.

    Ethics aside it is the far fetched contemporary story (handled far better in Ingram's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Vidor's The Big Parade) that sinks Ark which uses it's plea for universal understanding as a slick excuse to project out of control cinematic mayhem.