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  • 1930's "Renegades" was among a number of early talkies depicting adventurers among the French Foreign Legion, in this case four individuals who get in and out of trouble with their superior officer, Captain Mordiconi (C. Henry Gordon). Warner Baxter headlines as Belgian Jean Deucalion, who had been betrayed by his fiancée, Eleanore (Myrna Loy), a spy for the enemy, taking his revenge against her years later from a position of power in French Morocco, set up by The Marabout, Sheik Muhammed Halid (Bela Lugosi), leader of the riffs. Warner Baxter had previously appeared with Lugosi in "Such Men Are Dangerous," and worked with Boris Karloff in 1929's "Behind That Curtain." Lugosi, steadily employed at Fox Studios prior to his groundbreaking "Dracula," enjoys his most flamboyant role that year, sparring effortlessly with Myrna Loy, who has willingly joined his harem: "you very clever, for a woman!" Making his film debut was Victor Jory, who would be back in the Legion (along with Lugosi and C. Henry Gordon) in 1933's "The Devil's in Love," also at Fox. Still typecast as exotic vamps, the young Myrna Loy is as evil as can be, but still irresistibly beautiful (she also worked with Boris Karloff, in 1932's "The Mask of Fu Manchu").
  • Well, it isn't a very exciting film; it's quite slooow for the most part and poorly acted, even in 1930 terms; and has little cinematic value. It is not completely awful though. This is the worst performance I have ever seen from Myrna Loy - You will know where the term "cardboard cut-out" came from, and Warner Baxter is his usual over-dramatic, bombastic self. In my humble opinion he was one of the most overrated actors from that period, always seeming to play very righteous characters.

    Considering its' broad acting, Bela Lugosi is actually quite good and stands out as a breath of fresh air from the others. He even swings his robe over his body and walks out the tent door in his theatrical 'Dracula' style!

    There is some camera movement, but most of it is long dolly shots of two people having a conversation. Victor Fleming had not quite honed his workmanlike style and is quite far from Gone with the Wind in this one. And the plot is absolutely ridiculous - a very typical half-baked one from that period. Not really worth anyone's time, except as a curio for fans of the actors/director or early talkies.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In 1930, we find Myrna Loy at Fox as the female lead in Victor Fleming's "Renegades" (available on an excellent 9/10 VintageFilmBuff DVD). By Fleming's standards, Renegades, although most elaborately staged and produced, is not terribly filmic. It has its moments. The action scenes are great. But these are often swamped by long dialogue interludes in which hammy actors like C. Henry Gordon, Warner Baxter, Noah Beery, Gregory Gaye and George Cooper demonstrate their theatrical abilities to remember multiple pages of ho-hum speeches.

    Oddly, the one actor to come out with some credit in this talkfest of interminable shouting and instant Foreign Legion information, is Bela Lugosi, of all people! Lugosi plays the villain with such comparative subtlety, he is almost overlooked.

    Myrna Loy's role is equally evil, small yet super important. Like Lugosi, she holds her head up well.

    "Renegades" was undoubtedly appreciated back in 1930 as a comparatively novel, fresh and even adventurously spectacular Foreign Legion epic in the tradition of "Beau Geste"; but today it lumbers awkwardly across the screen as an impossibly slow, static and over-loquacious dud.