23 December 2013 | boblipton
Mister Mozzhukhin Goes to Paris
Louis Barclay, played by Ivan Mozzhukhin -- you could do casting like that in silent movies -- has been raised by his father, a professor of ethical philosophy, to live a happy life on a farm. However, when his grandfather dies in Paris and leaves him twenty million francs, Ivan goes to Paris, where he is stalked by a gang of swindlers led by femme fatale Nathalie Lissenko.
Sounds like a Frank Capra movie, doesn't it? Except we are a decade before Mister Deeds went to town. Ivan is married and just when his wife and father show up in Paris, the movie switches -- first to a Feuillade-style melodrama and finally to a soaper.
It's all in support of Mozzhukhin. He had been a movie star in Tsarist Russia and was a leading star of the Russian émigrés in Paris. So he runs through every sort of acting here: farce, dramatic and a lot of moody staring at Miss Lissenko. Despite playing a Scotchman in Paris, he is very Russian. Also, very engaging.
It's the comedy I wish to write about. Mr. Mozzhukhin always looked like Buster Keaton's brother to me, and to watch him do his comedy bits here is a pleasure. Most screen comics do weird things and the only justification is that they work. They are clearly cracked, if not downright mad. However, Mr. Mozzhukhin is not crazy. He is impish. These things occur to him and he gives into the impulse, as we all wish we sometimes would. They make his gags very believable and charming -- I am particularly fond of the one with the drinking straws.
Charming is the word for this movie. The way the plot veers keeps it from being boring and the actors are all good. Enjoy.