1 June 2001 | Snow Leopard
Melodramatic & Rather Uneven Story of Retribution
"Beggars in Ermine" is a very melodramatic and rather uneven story of retribution. There are some moments that are uplifting or at least interesting, but there are other times when it is excruciatingly implausible.
John "Flint" Dawson (Lionel Atwill) is a steel mill owner who believes in old-fashioned virtues. He cares about his employees, and has a plan to ensure a bright future for them and the mill. But one of his executives, James Marley (Jameson Thomas), has a different and sinister plan. In one quick series of events at the beginning of the film, Marley leaves Dawson's life in ruins and takes over the mill. For the rest of the movie, Dawson assumes a new identity as a beggar, and organizes his fellow beggars with the goal of eventually getting revenge on Marley. Much of what happens next has little believability, but there are some good moments.
Most of the cast is adequate, and besides the melodrama there are some good shots of the steel mill. There is a pretty good opening sequence that effectively establishes the feel of being in the mill as steel is being made. It does, however, lead the viewer to expect a serious drama, rather than the exaggerated story that follows.
While not believable enough to be effective as social commentary, this film might still have enough to be of interest to viewers who really enjoy good-versus-evil melodramas.