Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Iron Mask (1929)

Well the Age of Chivalry is not lost, but where's his other hand?

Genre: Silent Adventure Drama Romance

Starring: Douglas Fairbanks (Robin Hood; The Thief of Bagdad), Belle Bennett

Directed By: Allan Dwan (Heidi; Sands of Iwo Jima)

Overview: When twins are born to the King of France, one is sent away to maintain order in the realm. When the outcast heir ages however, he makes his claim to the throne. This is the story of the four musketeers who do what they can for God and Country amidst the political machinations.

Acting: This Fairbanks is something of a marvel of action cinema. He's played an Aladdin, a pirate, Zorro, Robin Hood and in this he plays a musketeer. It's almost like the roles he played were meant to mirror the man who played them, a bit of a narcissistic streak perhaps, but either way, he was super-famous. I wouldn't say his performance was as good as in The Thief of Bagdad, but he certainly has the energy necessary to pull off all the swordfights and rescues.
Rating: 7

Cinematography: There was nowhere near enough close-ups. The emotion of the actors during the fight and swordplay scenes just weren't really captured. Also the version I was watching was completely grainy and beat up, which detracted from it. Still there's scenes with one musketeer against 10 guards, or jumping from moving carriages onto the backs of horses, all the sort of stuff you'd expect from a modern action flick, so it's not all a loss.
Rating: 6

Script: "All for One and One for All!"

I mean this was originally written as a novel right, so you can expect there's at least decent telling of the more intricate aspects of a plot, but ultimately silent film cannot deliver this kind of tale as perfectly as oh, say, a more modern approach with oh, say, Leonardo DiCaprio... not that I've seen his remake, but I'd bet, if it's the same story, it's probably alright.
Rating: 6

Plot: If you've read The Three Musketeers, you'll know this story. I have not, so I'm only guessing that since there's FOUR musketeers in this one, and the way this story unfolds and concludes itself with all the little loose ends tied up, this is probably the last chapter. It's predictable, and pretty standard fare.
Rating: 6

Mood: Can't say that I could really get into it. Sure there's intrigue and suspense and swords, but it's a lot of parties and camaraderie. Some would call that Character Development, but I call it filler. In a modern talkie, there would be scenes with intimidating dialogue, evil plans and backstabbing intricacies. Doesn't really work here.
Rating: 4

Douglas Fairbanks also taught seminars in 'Dramatic Poses'.

Overall Rating: 58% (Cover Your Eyes)

Aftertaste: Holy God this director's made over 350 films, mostly shorts of course, but wow! From Silent action to Family films to War Epics, this is one of those directors who's certainly made a name for himself, though I wouldn't expect anyone to call his films timeless classics. Who knows, maybe he just made so many films because he had a gambling problem... Final thoughts? A little outdated for me, hard to get into.

Oh and happy anniversary. This is the 60th film I've watched from my lovely Film Studies Tome: 1001 Films you Must See Before You Die.