16 Nov 1925 -The Eagle Movie Review

In the guise of a dandy Cossack Lieutenant, who becomes an artful, gallant and very  lucky bandit, Rudolph Valentino’s shadow yesterday afternoon at the Mark Strand renewed its acquaintance with admiring throngs in a production entitled “The Eagle,” which is based on Alexander Pushkin’s novel “Dubrovsky.” Following the first presentation of the film Mr. Valentino himself took the stage and thanked the audience for its reception of the picture, adding that he felt sure that by it he would regain that popularity he enjoyed a few years ago. While he admitted that his preceding photoplay, “The Sainted Devil,” was a poor picture, he refrained from referring to the picturization of Martin Brown’s play “Cobra,” which he finished before starting work on the present offering, and which has not yet been released. The Mark Strand was packed, the police were kept busy at the theatre entrance holding back the crowd, and an enthusiastic collection of people after the first show pressed around the stage entrance, watching eagerly for the screen star’s appearance on the street. Through the introduction of Catherine of Russia, or a modern conception of that lady, the initial chapters of “The Eagle” are reminiscent of the picturization of “The Czarina,” which in film form was heralded as “Forbidden Paradise.” Although these sequences in the Valentino photoplay are undeniably entertaining, they by no means reach the artistic heights achieved by Ernst Lubitsch and Pola Negri in “Forbidden Paradise.” Mr. Valentino is indeed fortunate in having obtained the services of Vilma Banky from Samuel Goldwyn, for Miss Banky is so lovely to look upon that her beauty makes the hero’s gallantry all the more convincing. In this production, which might suit several male screen celebrities, including the agile Douglas Fairbanks. Mr. Valentino acquits himself with distinction. He appears, to have benefited by Clarence Brown’s direction and to have appreciated that Miss Banky was a valuable asset to his picture. It was an excellent idea also to have Hans Kraely, Mr. Lubitsch’s clever scenarist, handle the script for “The Eagle.” Mr. Valentino first is seen in the graceful costume of a Cossack officer, his astrachan headgear often placed at a most acute angle. Subsequently he rides to romantic fame as the Black Eagle, a bandit, whose chief exploits are bowing to the fair. His lieutenants kidnap Mascha Troekouroff, impersonated by Miss Banky, only to be told by their irate chief that he does not war with women. It happens that Mascha’s cowardly father is kept on tenterhooks by the Black Eagle, who binds and gags a French tutor being sent to the Troekouroff Castle to instruct Mascha, and then impersonates the tutor, coolly reporting to the girl’s parents, who had incidentally offered 5,000 rubies reward for the Black Eagle, dead or alive. One has the satisfaction of seeing the Black Eagle massaging old Kyrilla Troekouroff with amazing energy, and then seeing the hero turn his attention to Mascha in caressing fashion. Kyrilla receives notes from the Black Eagle under his plate, and his mind is always uneasy. He is a cruel old fool; who has a chained bear in his wine cellar, and he looks upon it as a pretty jest when he sends a victim down to get a bottle of the best wine. This happens to the Black Eagle, who kills the “jest” with a bullet. Before he took up the calling of bandit, the then respectable Lieutenant Vladimir Dubrovsky had been told in private audience by the Czarina: “You are the first Russian to see his Czarina weep.” Dubrovsky had been commanded to appear in the royal presence at 6 o’clock, and it is explained that 6 o’clock meant supper and not Siberia. The young lieutenant, always so courageous, had abandoned the Czarina when she was about to mount her favorite horse, because he observed two frightened horses dashing away with a vehicle in which sat an aunt, a Pekinese and the glorious Mascha. This is a satisfying picture in which Mr. Brown introduces some interesting touches. It is well equipped with scenery and the costumes of the players are capably designed. Mascha, at a banquet, adorns herself with a wealth of pearls, and the Czarina, played by Louise Dresser, arrays herself as Commander-in-Chief of the military forces.
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