1925 – Photoplay Movie Review Cobra

The original theme of Martin Brown’s Play, “Cobra,” having been written for a woman star, obviously puzzled the picture-makers in their efforts to twist it into a virile vehicle for Rudolph Valentino. Therefore, this main idea receives but scant attention in the screen version, the narrative of which, as it is unfurled, is moderately entertaining until the director and his henchmen decide to include a fang or two of the poisonous reptiles. It then becomes quite absurd and the accompanying captions assist in the general decline. Nita Naldi is supposed to officiate in the title rôle, but she is not called upon to appear until the story is well on its way. It is soon after her entrance that the real theme is attacked, the adapter having endeavored to shift the importance of the character from Elsie Van Zlla to Count Rodrigo Torriani, which results in the distressing consequences. Torriani, played by Mr. Valentino, is painted as a happy-go-lucky nobleman who finds any pair of feminine eyes enchanting. One might infer that he is sowing wild oats with a vengeance, as he is constantly discovering himself to be infatuated with some new fascinating creature. He has only to shake their hands, look into their eyes, and the wicked work is started. One of these charming young women happens to be Mary Drake, a stenographer, who is declared to be sweet and innocent, and is an inspiration to the Count to cause him to mend his ways. This good girl is an artist with paint and powder. Her lips are like cherries and her eyes are liberally outlined with mascara. Yet she is declared to be so serious in her attentions that one would expect her to shy at the sight of a lipstick. The Count falls in love with this Mary, but he cannot resist Elsie’s black eyes, even though she is wedded to his fast friend, Jack Dorning; and this brings about trouble. Elsie is burned to death in a hotel fire and Doming eventually learns of the Count’s conduct. So as to ingratiate the Count in the eyes of the spectators, the scenarist has him make a sacrifice. He insists to Mary that he is just as bad as ever, and the consequence is that she marries Doming. So, in this little tale Dorning has two wives, but the Count remains a bachelor. Mr. Valentine takes advantage of the opportunity to wear a variety of clothes. In one sequence he is seen as the Count’s seventeenth century ancestor. After that he wears golf clothes, lounge suits, white flannel trousers with a blue coat, white shoes with a blue suit, and when he dines alone, he is so punctilious that he appears in full evening dress. In one sub-title the Count is alluded to as an “indoor sheik,” and the fight that follows gives Valentino credit for a Firpo blow, while his opponent must have a cast-iron jaw. Casson Ferguson, who officiated as the villain in the film version of “Grumpy.” and recently was seen in a similar part in “The Road to Yesterday.” in this current feature fills the sympathetic role of Doming in a somewhat stereotyped fashion. Miss Naldi, whose eyes match Sir. Valentine’s makes the best of a bad bargain. Mr. Valentine’s acting is acceptable, but he is not indifferent to his much-exploited looks.

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