24 April 2006 | zpzjones
Nicely preserved Silent version of famous French Story
The Library of Congress hosted a showing of this in a beautifully preserved print a number of years back. While not as rollicking as later versions would be it does preserve for posterity William Farnum's performance as Villon. As a tidbit of Hollywood history the director of IIWK, J Gordon Edwards, was the Grandfather of Blake Edwards. This is a more stagey version of the story from William Fox Studios and it was considered lost for over 60 years. It's stagey in comparison with the later and more sumptuous versions starring John Barrymore(in 1927) and Ronald Colman(in 1938). Because the print is so clear and sharp you can almost detect, through Edward's closeups of his actors, the words they are speaking, though this is 1921 in the midst of the silent era. You get the notion that they are following the script of a play and much of the movie comes off as a filmed theater production. Though very well done. With movies like this one can now appreciate those who were adept at reading lips in silent films, something lost when sound films came in. Like many silent films this film may have been tinted and toned lending some color to the viewing experience. But watching it as pure black & white was more than adequate and this being because the print shown was so sharp and clear. Fritz Leiber is also memorable as Louis XI and the rest of the cast are dependable backup.