18 May 2019 | Mozjoukine
Creaky costume drama.
Terrible imitation Korda British piece presumably aimed at repeating The Scarlet Pimpernel. The opening has some promise with elaborate decors (Otto Werndorf was doing the Max Scack films of that period but there's no desiger credit) and the shiny blade guillotine being sharpened - cut to aristocrat prisoner Terry's blonde hair being trimmed. She jumps when the razor touches her neck. Even here everyone is so British.
There's nothing as good in the rest of the film as the doors at the back of the big set opening to show the guillotine outside.
Citizen Nils Asther shows up as a Revolutionary official with a passport made out for her as his nephew and takes her in drag with his mounted troops towards the Swiss border. Material with her being ordered to wash
by the soldiers or the inn maid coming on for her. They are easily bluffed. She's still wearing lipstick. Scene of her in a wet shirt and swimming discretely naked.
The area is under the benevolent control of Marquis Sinclair and the peasants who are quite happy to see others topped, object when his death is proposed. He does a defense about Liberty, Equality and Fraternity being Christian principles. Terry hates her savior because her mother has been executed and has placed herself in Sinclair's care. He of course has a stock of elaborate dresses that are her size. Romance blooms.
The piece tries for a few striking tableaux including the large scale assembly decor which pans to the shadow of the guillotine or a shot of Terry in black mantilla at prayer but the odd striking compositions are wasted. This is a film sorely in need of a couple of good sword fights.
Performances are not helped by a director for whom English is not a first language with accented Asther emoting in a different convention to the English stage actors and taking awkward pauses after he delivers lines meant to be significant. Noah Beery as a loyal Revolutionary Sergeant gets by.
The U-Tube copy is foul and the disk a little better.