The barely-remembered Mae Murray turns in a cute little comic performance as a dizzy girl who supports her extended family by taking a job as a dancer in a roadhouse, appropriating the reputation of a notorious vampire. Rudolph Valentino is featured as the playboy son of a wealthy building contractor who becomes fascinated with the incognito dancing girl.
This spare comedy features the requisite amount of imposture, bad reputations, class separation, misunderstandings and exposure for this stock premise. Of course, the budding romance is threatened by circumstance, assumptions, exterior forces and a wolfish ‘duke,’ until the whole shebang degenerates into a parody of melodramatic chase films. All is well, as is expected, as soon as the truth comes out.
Mae Murray’s winning performance is reminiscent of the comical performances of Mary Pickford and Mary Miles Minter, with her pouty, silver-lidded makeup and her mugging, girlish mannerisms all played to the hilt. Valentino is nondescript in this stock role that predates his success as a mysteriously foreign ladykiller. We really enjoy the spare comic performance of Mary’s roadhouse maid, played by an anonymous actress. — Carl Bennett
Milestone Film & Video, MILE00102, UPC 7-84148-01024-3, ISBN 1-933920-01-7.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, dual-layered DVD disc, Region 0, 6 Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 12 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $29.95.
Release date: 11 July 2006.
Country of origin: USA
This edition has been mastered from a good to very-good 35mm print at sound-film speed, resulting in action that moves far too quickly, which cranks Mae Murray’s frantic performance to a speed that is maniacally comical. While the video transfer is very-good, holding much of the remaining visual details (particularly when viewed on an upscaling high-definition system), the print itself is at times contrasty with lost highlight details and some exposure fluctuations, with persistent white spotting from beginning decomposition, dust and long vertical scratches.
Some portions of the print show signs of beginning decomposition at the left and right edges of the picture, and some shots in the print are only of good quality. Some shots are missing from this nearly-complete, export-version 35mm nitrate print held by the EYE Film Instituut Nederland, with new video-based English-language intertitles replacing the surviving Dutch intertitles. Our video scoring would have been higher had the surviving print material ben in better condition.
We really would have liked the video transfer rate of this edition to have been slowed down to a something like a natural pace. The running speed is so fast that viewers don’t get much opportunity to savor Murray’s performance. Still, we are thankful to have the opportunity to experience this Universal programmer with its early Valentino appearance.
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