12 January 2009 | marcslope
Douglas Fairbanks so embodied the ideal young American male of his day: honest, gallant, athletic, charming, and perhaps anti-intellectual. Ideas didn't propel him in the movies (though he's a clever inventor in this one), action did. In this transitional silent feature, he still has the light-comedian identity that made him a star in the 1910s, but he's doing more stunts and working his way toward the action-hero persona that propelled him through the 1920s. The trouble here is, in the title role, he really is a nut--callous and deceptive toward his girlfriend, impractical in all things, and incapable of learning anything. The villain, William Lowery, is a good one, a handsome charmer whose perfidy is convincing, and there are also glimpses of United Artists allies Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford in a party sequence. But, as another poster notes, it's never certain whether it's an actioner or a comedy, and Fairbanks doesn't even look his best. And I know we have to suspend a lot of disbelief with these silent comedies, but I'm surprised to learn from this film that 1) wax dummies can persuasively impersonate real human beings for extended periods, 2) cops can arrest you with no evidence, and 3) all it takes to be married is a judge, never mind the license or blood test.