The Valiant (1929)

  |  Drama


The Valiant (1929) Poster

After killing an unknown man for an unknown reason, a mysterious drifter turns himself to the law, under a false name intending to protect his own family's honor. But when the news of his ... See full summary »

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16 October 2013 | johnphilipklein
7
| An excellent showcase for Paul Muni
I saw this film originally in 2005 after making a special appointment at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. (It has shown a few times on TCM, I believe.) THE VALIANT is an excellent showcase for Paul Muni's performance as an anonymous man sentenced to death for a murder he refuses to discuss. His scenes become exemplars of powerful understatement, particularly in his penultimate scene with Mauguerite Churchill's character, who comes to Muni's prison (probably New York's Sing Sing) to find out if he is her long-lost brother. The resulting emotional scene moved my partner to tears, and she is not an easily moved person! I first became attracted to Muni's acting when I watched his powerful performance in I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG (1932) as a child. His performance in THE VALIANT earned Muni his first Academy Award nomination. I've seen the other extant nominations, and they are substandard at best (Chester Morris in ALIBI, George Bancroft in THUNDERBOLT, and especially the winner, Warner Baxter in IN OLD ARIZONA.) The film suffers a bit from the limitations associated with the early sound era, particularly from the somewhat wooden supporting performances by Churchill and the future cowboy star John Mack Brown. But the writing and direction by William Howard are still powerful enough to help support Muni's outstanding performance.

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