This picture was actually like two movies stuck together. The first half, concerning one of the oldest love triangles: man, woman, and Church. John Barrymore plays Fabian, a young man studying to be a priest, who falls for the beautiful Manon (Dolores Costello) and begins to question his commitment to religion. Meanwhile, Manon’s evil brother (Warner Oland) gambles her away to a rich and terrible man (Sam de Grasse)…Fabian cannot stand to watch her resigned to such a fate, and runs away with her.
Foppish Jack Barrymore.
Then everything gets dopey for a little while. Also, Louis XV gets involved.
Le King did not play himself.
Second half of the picture doesn’t really start until the big showdown between Fabian and the King. I’m not going to give that part away – but trust me, this is where the movie suddenly becomes an exciting swashbuckler a la Don Juan. If you can get through the first half, with all the typical melodramatic lovemaking and Dolores Costello exploring the range of her acting abilities (mostly squinting and resembling a fainting goat), it’ll be worth it. Best part is in the hold with the criminals. Only Jack could play a character half out of his mind and still give him sex appeal. Also, keep an eye out for a young and unknown Myrna Loy as a woman of ill repute - blink and you'll miss her.
A still of Miss Costello from the film.
An interesting bit at the end: the Vitaphone Orchestra taking a bow. I loved that and can’t wait to see if any other pictures include it!
Silent Film Slur of the Day: “degenerate breed of mangy dungeon rats”
I give this one: