11 May 2008 | JohnHowardReid
Three Cheers for Crisp!
"Was Donald Crisp a good director?" was a question we often asked ourselves at the uni film society. A question we had no way of answering because none of Crisp's films were available to us. Now, on the strength of Dress Parade, Don Q Son of Zorro and this movie I can answer that question with a most affirmative "Yes!"
In fact, this outing is a most entertaining affair, with both extravagant thrills and subtle humor in abundance, thanks largely to Crisp's inventive visuals, brisk pacing, and the fine performances he has enlisted from his cast. Admittedly, Rod La Rocque is the sort of player who doesn't really bother to act at all, but simply assumes the stance that his mere presence in a scene is sufficient to guarantee its audience appeal.
Our heroine, Miss Velez (despite the fact that she seems to be just along for the ride) is much her usual over-eloquent self (how fortunate she has no sound track!), while Warner Oland makes such an impressive and villainously seedy bandit, he needs no sound track at all. We can just imagine his oily, purring accents all too well.
The movie has been produced on an excellent budget with hordes of costumed extras milling around striking Anton Grot sets.