27 November 2017 | boblipton
Dug Up From the Library of Congress for Your Viewing Pleasure
Over the decades I've looked at a lot of partially preserved and fragmentary bits of silent features. It's the nature of the beast, when the vast majority of them are gone. So, when Ed Lorusso announced this movie as his latest Kickstarter project, starring Marion Davies, missing the final reel, I contributed, hoping for the best, even as I feared the worst.
It was one of the cases in which the best eventuated. Most of the movie survives in excellent shape, and in a fine toned print. Enough of the the final reel exists for the story to be finished with a series of stills and titles. It's not all one would wish for -- the location shots at sea are washed out -- but the story is interesting and for 1921, it's extremely well told, typical for something four or five years later, thanks, in no small part, to set design by Joseph Urban, titles by Fred Waller, camera-work by Harold Rossen, and a skilled cast.
Marion Davies is the daughter of Anders Randolf, "The Pirate of Wall Street". He wants her to marry John Charles, a European aristocrat whose only saving grace is his title. She loves Norman Kerry, a penniless doctor, and she and her father clash over the matter. When daddy orders her to marry John Charles after they all come back from an ocean voyage, she starts to have fits, in which she starts to write things backwards in her diary that seem to lead them to buried treasure. Then, when her mother asks her to read her something, a ghost directs her to a pirate story that mirrors her own situation.
The outcome of the movie will be no surprise to anyone, but there are enough engrossing details, from a costume party in a beautiful chamber to a desperate fight against pirates, that anyone who enjoys a well done movie for its own sake will have no complaint.