“There’s something rotten about a world that’s got to be wet down every thirty years with the blood of boys like those.”
Two rivalrous Marines — Sgt. Quirt (Edmund Lowe) and Captain Flagg (Victor McLaglen) — compete for the affections of a beautiful French girl (Dolores del Rio) on the eve of World War I.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Love Triangle
- Play Adaptation
- Raoul Walsh Films
- Silent Films
- Victor McLaglen Films
- World War I Films
Raoul Walsh directed this first cinematic adaptation of Maxwell Anderson and Laurence Stallings’ play, which was filmed again in 1952 by John Ford with James Cagney in the lead. Perhaps best known as the silent film which rewards careful lip-readers with evidence of spoken profanity not indicated on the title cards themselves (!), it tells an overly simplistic tale of macho rivalry (Lowe and McLaglen’s tussle over del Rio is preceded by similar conflicts with other women) set against the backdrop of World War I. Unfortunately, there’s not really enough to the story or the characters to sustain modern viewers’ interest, and the humor comes across as overly broad. While the battle scenes are impressively shot, film fanatics hoping to see a more engaging treatment of World War I in a silent film would be better off watching King Vidor’s The Big Parade (1925) or William Wellman’s Wings (1927).
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- The powerfully filmed wartime sequences
No, though it will likely be of interest to fans of Walsh’s work.