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  • Kudos to all involved for restoring this screen epic, Michael Curtiz's American Directing Debut. He definitely pulls out all the stops on this one! For those familiar with the Biblical account of Noah and the Ark, some extra bits of information are included such as Noah's son Japheth being blinded and forced to push a huge stone mill as punishment for attempting to rescue his lady-friend from being sacrificed. And God appearing to Noah as a burning bush and telling him of the flood via a huge book of stone tablets--a very cool scene, by the way. These parts of the story are only found in the rare "DFZ" version of the Bible. These variances do nothing to hurt the film however, as it's strong anti-war message comes through. How ironic though to see them speak of WWI as the last war, and that the covenant of peace would now shine throughout the world. A wonderful sentiment, one that too few people seem to hold dear.
  • A young American living in France suffers severe emotional trauma after joining the Army during the First World War. Eventually he gains enormous comfort after listening to a saintly old Minister relate the story of NOAH'S ARK & The Great Deluge, showing that the evils of the present day will also be washed away.

    This movie epic is a wonderful viewing experience, with plenty of romance & excitement. Warner Brothers lavished a great deal of money on the film - and it shows. Produced right at the very cusp of the talkie era, this is a mostly silent film with some talkie sequences - which makes it quite fascinating from a technological point of view.

    While perhaps it would be easy to laugh at the somewhat gauche vocal efforts of some of the cast, this would be to miss the point. Talking pictures were brand new & the entire society of movie actors were scrambling to learn how to perform in the perplexing new medium. NOAH'S ARK shows the best efforts of these particular actors at that time. Actually, Noah Beery, as the villain, uses his dramatic deep voice to good effect.

    It was a favorite convention in lavish film epics of the 1920's to tell two concurrent stories: one modern & moralistic, the other from some far distant -and decadent- past. (DeMille tried this format more than once.) This gave the filmmaker the opportunity to both preach & serve-up generous quantities of sin. It also gave the actors, as here, the chance to play dual roles - each used as a counterpoint to the other.

    Rugged George O'Brien & sweet Dolores Costello do fine work as the romantic leads in both stories. Guinn Williams is a stalwart support to O'Brien. Noah Beery is detestable as the wicked villain, and Paul McAllister is memorable as the Minister/Noah. Young Myrna Loy has a small part as a dancer.

    Scriptural purity is not entirely adhered to in the Noah scenes; elements from the stories of Moses & Samson are interpolated and far more attention is given to the evil outside the Ark than what went on inside it. The thrilling Deluge scenes are truly epic, however, and were just as dangerous to the extras as they appear.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I viewed this film this week on a tape I made about 20 years ago. I had not watched it since. Darryl Francis Zanuck (!), who wrote the script, used a familiar device of paralleling "modern" and a "historic" plots. in a more condensed form than Griffith had used the device in Intolerance; however, the parallels were just about as loosely drawn: comparison of World War I(a metaphorical "deluge") with the Biblical deluge that overwhelmed the world. It was interesting that the modern plot also ended like a Griffith film, with what turned out to be the vain vision of the coming of a world without war, as in Birth of a Nation. All that being given, one must say that the two parallel plots were equally well handled. The modern plot of three young people caught up in the war may have been clichéd, but it was so persuasively acted by Dolores Costello, George O'Brien, Noah Beery and, to my surprise Guinn Williams, who never before or after had an equal opportunity to demonstrate his capability as an actor. (His death scene was performed with both a masculine dignity and a display of his masculine love toward his buddy.) In my opinion, the friendship was handled better than the contemporary bond in Wings. Of course, the impact of the film, somewhat skewed by the clumsy interspersing of titles and spoken dialog, and its fame, will always rest upon the re-telling of the Noah legend. The delivery of the ten commandments, with the mountainside opening like a book, is extremely imaginative, even though it borrows from Moses'vision. But the impact of the advent of the flood has never been duplicated. It makes deMille's two-time separation of the Red Sea in a studio tank look weak. Of course, our later knowledge that several extras died in the cascade of water affects our reaction. However, one must say that no computer technology can ever match the sight of real water and real persons running for their lives. Actually, I'm rather ashamed that I can watch the scene and discuss it for its entertainment value. But I personally felt drained by the time the film ended. For me, it is a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
  • The film which cemented versatile director Curtiz' reputation in Hollywood is a part-Talkie spectacular which, despite the title, is not entirely concerned with the famous holocaust depicted in the Old Testament. Rather, it purports to parallel the Deluge with the massive losses in human life incurred during the so-called Great War; in that respect, NOAH'S ARK survives not merely as a solid example of late 1920s film craftsmanship but also as a heartfelt morality play delineating the long-lasting effect of that particular combat upon society – pity that, for all its good intentions, a second (and infinitely harsher) World War would be waged in the space of just 11 years! Anyway, to get back to the topic at hand, I knew the film enjoyed a considerable reputation among epic productions of the Silent era but, aware of the fact that the Biblical tale was only illustrated in the form of a vision (lasting for about 40 of its 100 minutes) embedded within the main plot, I had expected to be disappointed by it. However, we open on a remarkably elaborate prologue (superbly-edited in the contemporary Soviet style) and the WWI sequences themselves are well done (featuring even a spectacular train crash early on) and prove surprisingly absorbing in their own right (especially the interaction between the four protagonists – Noah Beery, Dolores Costello, George O'Brien and Guinn "Big Boy" Williams). Incidentally, all four (and a few others) play additional roles in the Noah story; this section is done on a truly grand scale, in clear imitation of Cecil B. DeMille (with a couple of obvious nods to THE TEN COMMANDMENTS [1923] which, coincidentally, I watched 2 days later!) – with the flood itself still highly impressive after all these years and undoubtedly deserving to be ranked among the finest sequences in all of cinema (though controversy still rages about the apparent disregard for the consideration and safety of those involved – with three extras reportedly drowning and several more getting injured during its shooting)!
  • AlsExGal30 March 2011
    ... was my reaction and my desire when I sat through the painful talking portions of this movie. The dialogue was uninspired if not just plain weird and Delores Costello has never sounded more ridiculous. I'll chalk that up to the dialogue coach, since so many early female vocal performances in films sounded similarly falsely aristocratic. She's supposed to be a singer/dancer in a vaudeville-like troupe and they have her speaking like she's the queen of England? See Ms. Costello in Magnificent Ambersons if you want to know what she really sounded like.

    I still give this film an 8/10 though. As a spectacle film in the De Mille tradition done by Warner Brothers before they had truly emerged into the studio big leagues, it is a sight to behold. No special effects here - those are real buildings falling on real extras and real water pouring onto them. I know director Michael Curtiz had a reputation for holding in great disdain actors who required a lunch break, but you'd think that he at least realized they require oxygen.

    The silent style of the players is pretty good. In fact, so good there are a dearth of title cards in the silent portion, since everyone is so adept at conveying their feelings through pantomime. The Vitaphone musical score accompanies the action well and the introduction to the film is particularly well done with water swirling around, sound effects, and the rather haunting musical introduction.

    There's some historically interesting points of view being shown here too. Filmed in 1928 over a year before the stock market crash there is a rather prescient visual montage at the beginning of the film equating stock brokers and their obsession with money with the worship of the golden calf of biblical times. However, the end of the film has a moral that is not so prescient - basically equating World War I as that wasteful pointless war to end all wars when a much more horrible conflict was a little more than ten years away.

    I'd highly recommend this one for two reasons. For the parts that are silent it is quite a work of visual art. For the parts that are talking it is a good example of how studios were so obsessed with sound that art was thrown out the window in the process, at least for a year or two. I'd rate this as one of my favorite although somewhat guilty cinematic pleasures.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Noah's Ark" was one of Warner Brothers most ambitious and spectacular movies of the late 20s. It originally ran 2 hours and 15 minutes, but when I saw it back in the 60s, it was just over 70 minutes. I can't remember much about it other than being bowled over by the sheer grandeur of it. It was a part talkie, but when Robert Youngson re-edited it for re release in 1957, it was the talking sequences that were eliminated. So the 1950s "Noah"s Ark" emerged as a silent movie with a voice narration filling in the gaps. It was designed along the lines of "Manslaughter"(1923) and "The Ten Commandments" (1923) - as a split story drawing parallels between sin and salvation in the Biblical days to youthful folly in the 'teens. So the famous story of Noah's ark is sandwiched between a World War 1 romance between a German showgirl, Mary (Dolores Costello) and an American soldier, Travis (George O'Brien). Costello and O'Brien also play the parts of the two lovers, Miriam and Japhet, in the Biblical story.

    In my opinion the Biblical sequence was the most spectacular - the building of the Ark, the herding of the animals, the Tower of Babel and the massive destruction and flooding of the city, including the drowning of the jeering mob. Japhet has been blinded and is forced into a life of slavery on a treadmill - the flood sets him free to be guided by God to rescue Miriam, who was to be sacrificed on the altar to a pagan God - very stirring stuff.

    Like a lot of silent films with added talking sequences, dialogue trivialized the characters and situations. This occurred in the modern story where a beautiful romance was made banal by long stretches of talk - about patriotism, how wonderful it is to be an American etc. Mary, who is German and at one point is reading a German newspaper on a train, suddenly starts to talk - Travis says to her "You will never be taken for a German spy, you talk just like an American"!! In another scene, a behind the scenes conversation between Myrna Loy and Mary. Loy kindly asks something like "Do you want to talk things over", to which Mary huffily responds "There are some things you'll never understand". Apart from Myrna Loy, who sounded completely at home with dialogue, Noah Beery (who played the villain in both sequences) was the one main star who really acted with his dialogue - he definitely had the type of voice you imagined his character to have. Beautiful Dolores Costello was Warner's top female star (it's top male star was Rin Tin Tin). Before "The Jazz Singer' saved it, Warners was not the powerful studio that it became in the 30s. Costello seemed completely at home in these extravaganzas, in which the only acting required was to look helpless and lovingly into the hero's eyes.

    The director, Michael Curtiz, was bought to the U.S. in 1926 and had a dictatorial reputation. Chief cameraman Hal Mohr left the film prior to completion because he felt that the handling of the flood scenes and the destruction of the massive sets were a danger to life and wanted safety precautions set in place. Curtiz said extras "would have to take their chances" and as a result several extras drowned.

    Highly Recommended.
  • The conclusion of the movie leaves a bitter taste in the mouth .In his remake of his classic silent "J'accuse" (1937) ,Abel Gance too proclaimed universal peace.It was not to be the last of all the wars and men are still fighting at my time of writing.And there's another flood "in which we are engulfed which is more treacherous and persistent:the deluge of the mass production (and consummation)moves inexorably forward ,capturing everything that walks in whirlpools" of frozen food,rusted cars,DVDs and CDs,cans ,boxes ,hamburgers ,tons and tons of Bumf (papers) ,growing in an exponential way...

    Curtiz's movie was obviously intended to match the scale and quality (and commercial appeal)of De Mille'' "the ten commandments " .The structure is the same:a fine mixture of two stories ,a modern one (WW1,the deluge of blood)and a "biblical story" ,reversing De Mille's order .The connection between the two stories is perhaps tighter than in the 1924 work although in the first part of the movie the viewer may sometimes wonder what Curtiz is driving at.

    The biblical story has been " expanded " ,which was necessary for Noah's story is rather short and not particularly eventful if spectacular. Curtiz borrowed a lot from De Mille in the scenes of the deluge and when God "writes" to Noah (using thunderbolt).But his deluge is superior to John Huston's "the animals went in two by two" sequence in "The Bible" (1967)

    All in all,this is a very exciting show ,which features talking scenes ,including a whole version of "La Madelon" the Poilus' songs during WW1.The parade on the Champs D'Elysées with a painted Arc De Triomphe in the background and women throwing flowers when Travis sees Al marching on to war is a great moment.Melodrama reaches peaks of kitsch when the same is to execute ...his own wife ,condemned in mistake for spying.

    When will we see Noah's dove?
  • Warning: Spoilers
    No matter how good this silent movie is, it could never make up for the horribly tragic deaths of several extras due to an indifferent director and studio. When I saw the incredibly spectacular flood scenes, I couldn't help but think about this...as three died to make these scenes.

    The film is not exactly a film about the flood. Like DeMille's first "Ten Commandments", the Biblical tale is only a small portion of the film--and much of the rest of the film is a heavy-handed contemporary story that only tangentially relates to the Bible. The bulk of the story is about WWI and the film compares this to the flood(!)--about how man's inhumanity that lead to the flood is the same as what lead to the war. And, like the promise of no more earth-covering floods, the film makers were bold enough to promise that with the end of WWI that there would be no wars!! They go so far as to say that the death of over 10,000,000 in the war was NOT in vain! Wishful thinking...especially in light of WWII and countless other wars since! On top of this, the WWI sequence is filled with one amazing one in a million occurrence after another--such as George O'Brien meeting his bestest buddy on the battlefield AND accidentally killing him only minutes later AND having the friend (Guinn Williams) die in his arms! The coincidences were too many to believe and are the result of bad writing--a problem through much of the film.

    The film goes back and forth several times from the time of Noah to the present. It also throws in several Bible stories that occurred AFTER Noah--and I assume this is because the writers didn't do their homework. There are also one crazy spectacular scene after another--great to look at but poorly written as well, as much of it was just confusing hogwash.

    A few things to look for (other than amazing special effects for 1928) are the idea of the same characters in WWI playing the sons of Noah and one of their wives. The most prominent of these women is played by Delores Costello--a huge silent star who became one of several wives for John Barrymore (and grandmother of Drew). Also, the scene where O'Brien looks up to Heaven as the rain falls is used on Turner Classic Movies' intro for Silent Sundays.

    For the most part, the special effects are THE movie. The story itself is confusing, preachy and nonsensical at times. But, in a bizarre way it's all still very entertaining...but hardly a film for the general public. Christians may well object to the fast and loose way the film mixes up the Biblical account as well as creates a lot of back story for Noah's children--from where it got this, I have no idea. Atheists, on the other hand, probably won't like the film because of the whole notion of a world-wide flood and God. So, as a result, much of the potential audience for this film is negated in the process! Overall, confusing, weird yet pretty exciting at times.
  • I remember watching "Noah's Ark" when I was 12 years old in 1962 in Brazil and fell in love with Dolores Costello... what a magnificent movie. I had never watched a Silent Movie... and was flabbergasted by it... by the sheer MAGIG of the images...

    Before the movie itself there was a little prologue showing "Noah's Ark"'s preview at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood with red carpet and all... I think that predisposed me to be in awe with the whole thing.

    I loved it... but then NEVER heard of Dolore Costello or anything about the movie until the Internet Age came to the rescue...

    Carlus Maximus
  • One year before Jean Harlow caught the eyes of two war-embittered soldiers in "Hell's Angels" (1930), this gigantic, vivacious, masterfully scored drama hit theaters. It was the most expensive film of the early sound era up to that time. Thanks to TCM and numerous film archives who pitched in for the restoration, we are now able to treasure it further for future generations to behold. Mike Curtiz was a tyranical perfectionist and put everything he had into this picture as he did with every such as "Casablanca" (1942), "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938), "Mystery of The Wax Museum" (1933), etc. There is always

    something big in his pictures, whether it cost $2 or $2,000,000 to produce, his imaginative genius and careful observation make his end results all the more astonishing. One of the even greater things about this picture is it's score. God bless Louis Silvers for writing it. Silvers also conducted the same Vitaphone orchestra that scored "The Jazz Singer" (1927) which also sported some pretty awesome tunes. The love theme is definitely one to behold. The cast is very nicely cast. George O'Brien makes a nice talkie transition with his suave and cunning voice that makes him sound 5 years younger. Noah Beery's voice was even better; deep, deceptive, conniving. Dolores Costello?

    She's alright, nothing eye-candyish about her but, she's alright. Altogether, this picture is one that I believe needs more frequent distribution because of how important it was in it's time as a form of entertainment, but now for a play in modern-day morality. A must for everyone!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a very disappointing effort by producer-writer Darryl F. Zanuck and Michael Curtiz in his American directorial debut. The film is obviously an attempt to replicate the DeMille formula of selling pre-code cheesecake in a biblical package. Which is OK if you have some original ideas. But this film has very little new to offer, and steals not only from DeMille, but from Rex Ingram's THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE and Frank Borzage's SEVENTH HEAVEN.

    The WWI story is blatantly derived from FOUR HORSEMEN, and carries over some of that film's problems. The idea that war can have a moral impact and yet remain immoral in the abstract doesn't cohere; and the portrayal of Travis (played by George O'Brien) and his buddy Al (played by Guinn Williams) as untroubled by moral misgivings about taking part in an apocalyptic war undercuts the anti-war message Zanuck seemed to be striving for.

    The maudlin sentiment - Al has a picture of "Mother" in his helmet - and facial mugging of the actors gives NOAH'S ARK the appearance of a film made ten years earlier. And the scene in the biblical section of a sightless Japheth divinely led to his lover Miriam (Dolores Costello) works no better than Charles Farrel's blind search for Janet Gaynor in SEVENTH HEAVEN.

    However, criticism of the incompatibility between the the modern and biblical sections is not valid. Both stories have apocalyptic themes; the comparison of God's decision to destroy "all flesh" in the flood, and the endgame specter of ten million dead in WWI would not be lost on audiences of 1929. Also the melodramatic tale of lust that leads the villain Nickoloff to condemn Travis' German wife to execution as a spy does roughly parallel King Nephilim's determination to sacrifice a virgin to an idol in the biblical section.

    More jarring than the parallel stories - or the ridiculous leopard skin costumes worn by Noah's sons - is the inclusion of spoken lines in the modern section. The actors' slow, careful, halting enunciation, and the drivel that come out whenever they open their mouths, kills the pace of the film and shows why Murnau believed the transition to sound was premature.

    The saving grace of the film is the spectacle of the ancient city and the flood itself, but the sets in the biblical section bear more than a little resemblance to the Babylonian sets in Griffith's INTOLERANCE, and the flood could not help but be realistic since Curtiz saw fit to let loose tons of water on extras who didn't know it was coming.
  • 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.
  • After God destroys civilization in The Great Flood, biblical patriarch Paul McAllister (as Noah) thanks the Supreme Being for a successful trip. God's chosen captain, some selected wives, and pairs of the planet Earth's animals rode out the storm in "Noah's Ark". Alas, men immediately returned to their wicked ways - and the whole exercise was for naught. Events quickly lead up to The Great War (aka World War I), wherein blood replaces the flood. Jesus Christ notwithstanding, beautiful blonde Dolores Costello (as Marie) is sentenced to die on a cross, as a spy for her German brethren...

    Hunky husband George O'Brien (as Travis) must somehow save her!

    With Ms. Costello in dire straits, we flashback to tell the story of "Noah's Art" that ended in the film's opening prologue. In the Old Testament past, ever-lovely Costello (as Miriam) is led to be sacrificed as a virgin. While we wonder how a woman resembling Costello managed to remain a virgin, Mr. O'Brien (as Japheth) is blinded and put to work at a treadmill...

    Only a miracle will save him!

    The juxtaposition of "The Flood" and "The Blood" draws uncomfortable parallels; probably, filmmaker Darryl F. Zanuck didn't intend to imply God caused both. This is another film inspired by D.W. Griffith's colossal "Intolerance" (1916), but executed on the relatively smaller epic scale Cecil B. DeMille used in his original silent version of "The Ten Commandments" (1923). Again, we have "Biblical" and "Modern" stories being told, and not all too well. Still, the production values and close-ups are terrific. Some of the talking parts have been restored, but the color sequences are apparently lost.

    ******* Noah's Ark (11/1/28) Michael Curtiz ~ Dolores Costello, George O'Brien, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams, Noah Beery
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Noah's Ark was the attempt of young hard driving head of production at Warner Brothers Darryl F. Zanuck to produce a biblical spectacle that would out DeMille, DeMille. Like DeMille he took a Victorian era modern story and juxtaposed it with the biblical story of Noah's Ark. And like DeMille leavened his story with a little sex.

    The leads are George O'Brien and Dolores Costello who play an American national and a German girl who make it to France as war is declared. They fall in love and are married, but her nationality is kept a secret lest she be detained and maybe executed as a spy. When the Yanks come Over There, O'Brien joins up, but Costello gets herself in a jackpot I won't go into except to say that it involves the lecherous Noah Beery. As they await their fate, they are comforted by a minister played by Paul McAllister who seems to pop up in the story in some odd places.

    At that point McAllister tells them the story of Noah's Ark and the characters in the modern story become characters in the Bible. O'Brien becomes Japheth one of Noah's sons and Costello becomes Miriam, a hand maiden in the house of Noah and O'Brien's girlfriend. Noah Beery becomes the evil Mesopotamian king who demands a virginal sacrifice and guess who he has in mind. And of course McAllister is Noah.

    The story gets quite a bit of embellishment spiritually as elements from different Bible stories get tossed into the plot. O'Brien like Samson is blinded and condemned to work a grist mill and Noah's sign from God to build the Ark is the burning bush. In addition God is called Jehovah and as we know God had no name until it was revealed to Moses many generations later. C.B. DeMille would have scolded Zanuck for being that bad on scholarship. But he would have applauded Zanuck for the use of scantily clad maidens to show Mesopotamia's decadence.

    Which the modern minister McAllister and the titled narrative compare to modern times in the tradition of DeMille.

    Myrna Loy has a role in both the modern and biblical story. If you look you might spot both John Wayne and Andy Devine as extras drowning in God's Flood. O'Brien and Costello make an earnest pair of young lovers who face the future with the hope that no more wars will happen after the Great War as World War One was then called. It should be remembered that the United States and France led many nations to sign the Kellogg-Briand pact around the same time, outlawing war. Just about every nation that signed it did go to war at some point thereafter, except maybe Switzerland. That would have resonated with 1928 audiences as well as the added sequences of dialog which Warner Brothers as the studio which introduced sound would be expected to include.

    Noah's Ark is a rather dated film, but the special effects were state of the art for its time. It's a curiosity for today's viewers.
  • I have wanted to see this movie for ages having seen a clip many years ago in a movie documentary. It was worth it as this is a good film with some nice performances and it is, as stated by other reviewers, a bit of a curio. However, the one thing that does let it down is the moralising, sadly DFZ shouldn't have dipped his toe into screen writing. Although Dolores Costello is the star, she is one of the weaker elements, her voice is clipped and quite English (even though she was American) and didn't convey at all the fact that she was meant to be a German Frauleins, it was obvious that she had taken speaking lessons and they really hadn't paid off. The two main male leads however are a different matter, George O'Brien starts off rather stilted, but as he goes on his speaking role improves, Noah Beery is pretty much the same and both are good to listen to as well as being pretty good actors. The flood sequence is highly impressive as is the train wreck, I loved the burning book sequence a la Moses, very cutely done. But, the moralising became tedious. the sequence where the preacher admonishes the mother for smacking her child was particularly nauseating and all this did almost spoil the film, Ben Hur handled it much better. But, this was something that happened a lot in that era of movie making and you can forgive it. The saddest part came right at the end when they spoke of no more wars, how naive.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Michael Curtiz is a wonderful film maker. Albeit, he's often reputed to be wonderful for "Casablanca" (his magnum opus about Rick, played by Humphrey Bogart, who is abscond and inhabits in Casablanca as his past floods back to him and during these events, we see the brooding war). But he's also done masterpieces like "Angels with Dirty Faces", "Mystery of the Wax Museum", "Mildred Pierce" and many others. I marginally mention this because I just want to say that he wasn't limited in his credentials with great film and to illustrate this point, I'll intersect this point by using this grandiose and technical masterpiece as an example.

    "Noah's Ark" was made just after WW1. It intercuts this event with the other fateful event "Noah's Ark". And I do want to laud this film for a few things; one is Guinn Williams as Al; his performance is spellbinding, as his passion of war and love combine. He's Travis' friend and he doesn't act in formulaic melodrama and embodies the character perfectly. There really is nothing divisive about it that I can say, as he was a stellar for what feels like a short lived and marginal character. He's also quite funny when he says through inter-title "If he's fighting my friend, you better look out for the guy he's fighting". His death scene is not sonorised (perhaps to better effect) and is played out in a solo way. What impressed me most about his sterling performance was that the acting was naturalistic and dialogue utterances are not forced, as if by the script lines. This actor was also in the silent era and he might be one of the best actors to transition into the sound era.

    Dolores Costello plays Marie, a young woman, who finds love when she boards the same bus as Travis (played by the dazzling George O'Brien, from films that stem from "The Iron Horse" (1924) and "Sunrise" (1927) by F.W. Murneau). There's people on the bus that say things through superfluous inter-titles such as "Science disproves god" and contrariety's by an old man (a man who will be the one-dimensional character and be considered later on). During the bus crash that ensues, it will remind viewers of Noah's Ark, which the film opens up with the construction of and like "The Bridge on the River Kwaii" the sets were getting built during the production, but unlike "The Bridge on the River Kwaii" it's not on location. It's one of WB's best films during that era.

    Travis and Marie take refuge at a nearby house, where Nickoloff is, and they fight against him due to reasons of love. After this, sequences with the two permeate for a while until Travis is confronted about his place in the army. He then enlists in it leaving by his wife.

    The modern story is basically WW1 and it isn't done very well. More scenes could have chronicled the disaster, but instead it chronicles around the sentimentality, the dialogue exchanges between Travis and Al and a bomb getting thrown.

    Much of the latter story is infinitely better and makes up for this last part to the first act. This act is shown through the book of God and it soon becomes biblical as that Old Man returns, as if by divine intervention, to hinder the death of his wife who goes in the breech. She is captive in this story and God (almost a replication of "The Ten Commandments" title sequence) orders that he must kill them by water. And then comes the most famous sequence of the film.

    It would be a bit higher on my list, after I found it that the way they emulate it, was real. Dummies were in a separate set and the real people with inflections and the lot were where the deluge of blood was played out. It's mind boggling; sets fall and tragedy is completely futile.

    I don't want to go too deeper into it. This film was the "Ben Hur" of its day. But it's also a pastiche and more coherent version of "Intolerance", influenced by the modernity of its time, whereas Intolerance compared that with various eras before the 20th century. I am interested in its dialogue scenes, as well and how it mainly permeates war songs. The score seems rhythmic as well and it seems picked by the film maker or Warner Brothers. It may disconcert people that many people were injured and at the risk of that, the film may not be one you will pick up. However I recommend watching Hollywood 1980: A Celebration of Silent Film (the first part and the rest are on YouTube) and look at a slight history of the films making and then think about purchasing it. As for me, I was excited to get it. But it's an each to their own film.
  • This may be the strangest movie you will ever see that was not intended to be strange. It was directed by the fellow who a generation later would make "Casablanca." It was written as a sort of writing masterpiece by a nearly illiterate fellow who would later become a master of the studio system, a real power.

    Its strange in so many ways.

    It folds a collection of Old Testament stories centered on Noah's flood with a simple morality play set in and about WW I. Its a very, very strange superposition that doesn't in any way make sense. The sheer audacity of someone who thought it would is astonishing. Many people were killed in each, I suppose. Some central characters in both stories are played by the same actors, which makes the supposed similarity between the two threads gobsmackingly puzzling.

    Moreover, all the Bible parts are wrong, assuming "right" means that you care about what is actually written. Since virtually no one does — this section of the Bible is hard to make sense of, being itself an unhappy mix of bits from diverse and sometimes contradictory sources.

    Its part silent, and part talkie.

    And its unhappily wrong in its expectations that the world war depicted would — by virtue of God's grace — be the last war. Its heart wrenching.

    A specific irony is that a sort of Jewish queen is played by a woman, who in the modern drama is German. The patriarchs are stereotypically Jewish looking, but the main characters are northern European.

    Cinematically, its grand. The modern sequences are clumsy, but the Bible sequences are pretty impressive, simply because of the scale.

    There really were thousands of extras. And they really did get deluged, in scenes that have them fighting for their lives. Some of the effects are goofy, but others are clearly done in reality: buildings collapsing on people.

    Toward the end of this, you feel that God, having gotten impatient with all the mucking around with grandly confused narrative, has decided to wipe out the whole movie.

    Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
  • So many people were injured in shooting the biblical sequences for this film that star Delores Costello always referred to it as "FLOOD, MUD AND BLOOD"

    This film was made in the transitional period between silent and sound film so talking sequences were added to keep the film contemporary.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Noah's Ark was Warner Bros' attempt to create a Cecil B. DeMille picture and one with very odd results to say the least. It was a common convention for silent epics to tell two or more concurrent stories, one set in modern times and the others set in the ancient world with these being tied together with the same thematic elements (even Buster Keaton parodied this format in his feature Three Ages). Noah's Ark from 1928 is not a very good film but it can at least go down in the history books as a bizarrely interesting one.

    Noah's Ark begins with some striking images of the Tower of Babel of which the movie compares to modern day skyscrapers. This is followed by an appearance of the Golden Calf with the title card (*in a booming Charlton Heston voice) "And throughout the ages, the worship of the Golden Calf remains man's religion". Cut to images of frantic modern day stock brokers followed shortly by a ridiculous montage of gambling and partying to the dissolve of a statute of Jesus which sheds a tear. Oh boohoo! This moralising couldn't get more over the top if they tried.

    Noah's Ark is a movie trying way too hard to be profound. It's already used the Old Testament to try and decry capitalism; the remainder of the film tries to state an anti-war message through the story of the Ark. I'm not a theologian but the connection the film tries to make between Noah's Ark and World War I isn't even strenuous at best. The movie's justification for this is that the war and the story of the Ark both resulted in vast destruction and death. Paul McAllister plays a minister who serves as the biblical counterpart for Noah and proclaims before the movie transitions to the biblical tale itself (*in a booming Charlton Heston voice):

    "The Flood - it was a deluge of water drowning a world of lust!" "This war - it is a deluge of blood drowning a world of hate!" "The flood and the war, God Almighty's parallel of the ages"

    Yeah, you tell yourself that Buddy.

    I do quite like the basic, melodramatic war story which is charming and mildly engaging. George O'Brien and Guinn "Big Boy" Williams are two American friends by the names of Travis and Al. The two are residing in Europe and may have a sexual thing going on between them as through much of their interactions they remain physically close, are very touchy and even have a romantic look in their eyes. On top of that during the actual Noah's Ark portion of the film their biblical counterparts Japheth and Ham are even more homoerotic with their exposed chests. Travis, however, is going to marry his German love interest Marie (Dolores Costello), however, war breaks out and not only is married to a woman from an enemy nation but he's also initially avoiding conscription. - This is one of those films in which the plot if maximised for upmost melodramatic effect.

    65 minutes into what is the longest existing version of Noah's Ark and we finally get what we came for. The portion of the film about the creation of the ark and the proceeding flooding is the best part of the film. Right of the bat, it's very dreamlike - I just notice that Dolores Costello's hairstyle is a few millennia off. It also has the most bizarre representation of God trying to communicate with mere mortals, by carving a giant book into the side of a mountain via lightning. If the film was only comprised of this it would be a really good short film. The movie's much-touted flooding sequence if a spectacular sight with its huge sets, extras galore and water; lots and lots of water. However what's made Noah's Ark most infamous in the history books are the sources which say that several extras drowned during the making of the flood and reportedly 35 ambulances were called out to treat the wounded. You only have to watch the sequence itself to see the extras on screen do appear to be in real danger.

    Noah's Ark was a part-talkie and as a result, you have some very stilted acting during the talking scenes but you can't blame them. The direction of the film is fine but that distinctive Michael Curtiz style is not as apparent as his later talkies. The obvious model train seen early in the film is cute but in comparison to the flood sequence, if realism was their goal then they failed. Also, can a lightning strike destroy a bridge made out of stone?

    Myrna Loy is billed at the bottom of the main players screen at the beginning but only appears in one scene, in which she gets to speak and her first time to do so on screen. Sources do state, however, she also appears in the flooding sequence as a golden-winged dancer before the sacrificial altar but this viewer failed to spot her among the carnage. It does seem odd that for a rather high billing that she appears only very briefly in the film. I can only speculate that perhaps she appeared in more scenes in which were removed for re-releases of Noah's Ark and have since become lost.

    Once the story of Noah comes to a close we are brought back to the present and lo and behold, the war has ended and the armistice is signed. The Minister then makes a proclamation to echo Woodrow Wilson's famous statement "The war to end all wars" (* once more in a booming Charlton Heston voice):

    "I mean that war is now an outlaw, and will be hunted from the face of the earth. Those ten million men have not died in vain."

    Yeah, you tell yourself that Buddy.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Copyright 28 May 1929 by Warner Brothers Pictures. Talking sequences and music score by Vitaphone. Hollywood premiere: 1 November 1928. U.S. release: 15 June 1929. Silent version released 27 July 1929. 11 reels. 9,507 feet. 105 minutes. (Silent version: 9,058 feet). New York opening at the Winter Garden: 12 March 1929. (Available on a superb Warner Archive DVD that runs an amazing 108 minutes).

    NOTES: Reportedly three extras drowned in the flood sequence, but these stories may be apocryphal. Certainly cinematographer Hal Mohr so objected to the extras being placed in danger, he walked off the set in protest and was replaced by Barney McGill.

    Negative cost was around $2 million, only part of which was recovered at the box-office, mainly due to extremely negative reviews.

    COMMENT: I think it fair to say that "Noah's Ark" is a typical example of the silent film spectacle. Masses of extras are often impressively marshaled in awesomely impressive sets and on the whole the action and "spectacle" scenes still evoke wonder and excitement.

    Curtiz's direction not only has verve and pace but moments of glory. The movie is by no means the total write-off derided by many contemporary critics.

    In fact, I wouldn't write it off at all except for the hammy performance of Paul McAllister. He is simply plain awful in the modern story, but as Noah he is not just awful but derisive, insulting and so highly offensive, one wonders how such a deliberately, wickedly inaccurate portrait ever got past even the most liberal-minded censor.

    The Bible itself presents Noah as a robust, strong-minded, fearless drinking man in the prime of life, not a sanctimonious old goat. Admittedly, the writers got the "fearless" right. And I can understand their reluctance at the height of Prohibition to present Noah as a drinking man, even though the Bible does so. God describes Noah as "righteous", not as sanctimonious.

    The Bible writers also go out of their way to tell us that Noah and his wife, and their sons and their wives were VEGETERIANS; Noah and his family did not eat any of the animals in the ark. It was only after the flood had subsided and because all vegetation had been destroyed that God relaxed this rule. So the clothes that Noah's sons wear are probably wrong too. They don't look like cotton garments to me.

    Nonetheless, despite the movie's title, Noah doesn't figure in the picture all that much. Aside from McAllister, I thought the players acquitted themselves well.

    However, I'm amazed the Warner Brothers were able to get away with their extremely negative view of the U.S. army and the movie's finger-pointing depiction of incompetent army brass not only at the climax but even earlier on in the story. No wonder the movie was soon hidden away and never re-issued in its complete version.

    REVIEWS from newspapers and magazines of 1929: "An idiotic super- spectacle with parallel Old Testament and Jazz Age sequences — Moses against Scott Fitzgerald... Widely conceded to be the worst picture ever made." — Alva Johnson, The New Yorker.

    "A solid bore, with a very second rate war story in which everything from The Big Parade to date has been shabbily copied." — New York Post.

    "You never saw so much rain in your life... A wet blanket — just plain awful." — Los Angeles Times.

    "Frequently borders on the ridiculous... After sitting through this cumbersome production, one feels that it is a great test of patience." — Mordaunt Hall, New York Times.
  • NOAH'S ARK is the first epic "talkie," though most of it is silent. I got to see a restored print by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and really enjoyed it. Michael Curtiz directed. (Curtiz later directed CASABLANCA and some of the Elvis Presley films.) George O'Brien stars, with Myrna Loy, Noah Beery and John Wayne.
  • Noah's Ark (1928)

    ** 1/2 (out of 4)

    Big-budget Warner film has parallel stories with the first dealing with an American man (George O'Brien) who falls in love with a woman (Dolores Costello) he saved after a train wreck only to then be separated after WWI breaks out. The second story deals with Noah being asked to build an ark and fill it with two of every creature on Earth in order to survive the great flood. NOAH'S ARK was meant to be an all-silent picture but while in production MGM was raking in cash with THE JAZZ SINGER so Warner went back and added sequences with sound. I've always found these early attempts to throw sound into a silent movie rather distracting and I think that's the case here. At least 80% of the movie is silent and I think the added dialogue sequences really don't add anything and the first talking scene between Costello and O'Brien is rather laughable. Overall, I was pretty disappointed in this film because I found the story to be lacking all around and in the end the only real reason to watch this is for the amazing special effects but more on them in a bit. I found the first portion of the film to be so heavy in terms of going over-the-top to get the religious elements in that they became quite annoying. DeMille is best remembered for doing this but I think he handled it much better than what Michael Curtiz could do here. The film certainly likes to preach but this here is to be expected but at the same time less could have been more. The WWI story isn't all that compelling because we've seen that type of story play out several times in the silent era. Two young people fall in love, war breaks out and they get separated. The subplot of the evil man trying to have the woman killed really didn't add any drama and the entire WWI sequence just seems like something added on and never really hits with any emotion. Once the stuff with Noah finally happens we're treated to some amazing special effects but it should be noted that at least three people were killed and countless others injured. It's said that Curtiz and Warner didn't care about anyone's safety and it's obviously true after you see the effects here. I think it's safe to say that these effects couldn't even be done today without the use of CGI so to see them in 1928 is just jaw-dropping. The flood sequences are among some of the best disaster effects you're ever going to witness and there are other moments like the train derailment that just make you stop in your tracks and take notice. These special effects are so ground-breaking that you can't help but recommend the movie to everyone but at the same time one wishes they had come up with a stronger, less preachy story or perhaps just filmed a Biblical tale about Noah.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie is great for its time however the reason for such a low score is because a few real people died for the movie which can be seen in the movie.
  • bfgryyerhdbv2 December 2016
    During the rain sequence when the girl is on the ground and the blind guy goes to pick her up, you can see some of her, well, boob. Well the point of her boob. Don't know any other way to put it. Pretty surprised to see that they missed that during editing or the editor just decided to put that in and hope the censors missed it. Don't know how anyone could have missed that on the big screen in theaters though. It was pretty obvious watch it today Dec. 2 2016 on TCM. Surprised that TCM has not even seen that when they put it on TV or watch it before putting it on TV. If you get a chance to watch this movie or record it or if the have a DVD of this, you will see that they missed it.