Flesh And The Devil (1926)
Genre: Silent Romance Drama
Directed By: Clarence Brown (Anna Karenina; The Yearling)
Overview: A soldier and a woman fall desperately in love with one another, but her husband challenges the soldier to a duel to defend his honour... and all this in the first act of this tale of mad love gone wild.
Acting: If you've read my review for The Big Parade, you'll know how fond I am of John Gilbert. He has a knack for being the perfect pantomime while still not going into the melodramatic. In the Silent Era, that's quite a gift. We all know Greta Garbo, but it may surprise you to find out she actually did silent films and in this she's amazing, as are all the supporting cast.
Cinematography: You'll find a nice surprise in having a restored, crisp print. For as much as one sometimes has to endure the more rugged flicks to be graced with a story worthy of being told, sometimes a clean movie can do a lot for your enjoyment of a film. Add to this some interesting settings, costumes and dueling pistols by silhouetted dusk-light and you'll find Flesh And The Devil to be very entertaining to watch, not to mention Garbo's quite the dish!
Script: One of the better told silent films, this is actually quite the interesting tale. Full of raw emotion, shaken loyalties and stern displays of honour, these characters are as rich as any verbose wordsmith of the modern age. A genuinely enthralling story.
Plot: This is a nice surprise. A rich story full of happenings from love and dueling to vendettas and dark secrets revealed, each act is full of exciting and unique details that twist and turn the story into a very dramatic tale indeed. Even the ending is unexpected and I would recommend this to any film fan, not only those who appreciate the Silents.
Mood: How far will one go for love ? Defend one's honour to the death? Self-imposed exile for years on end? Break up life-long friendships? This is the story of how flesh can bring out the devil in a man, and more appropriate a title I have never heard. Through the dramatic moments of our characters, the lesson rings through loud and clear, though in the same situation, any one of us would do the same as our hero. We learn their lessons well: it is a lesson we all must endure ourselves.
Overall Rating: 86% (Will Give You Goosebumps!)
Aftertaste: As I dig up these old films of yesteryear knowing that most of the time it will be an interesting anthropological study or a neat historical 'first' of cinematography or the beginnings of a great actor's career, I know that often 'appreciation' is more important than 'admiration'. From time to time, I'm reminded why I do this. Movies like these keep me interested, and help mark another milestone in why the Silent Era needs to be mourned or better yet reawakened. Honestly, this story... it's pretty damn cool.