Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1929. The Samuel Goldwyn Company. Screenplay by Sidney Howard, continuity by Wallace Smith, based on the play by Herman C. McNeile. Cinematography by George Barnes, Gregg Toland. Produced by Samuel Goldwyn. Music by Hugo Riesenfeld. Production Design by William Cameron Menzies. Film Editing by Frank Lawrence, Viola Lawrence.
The first great adventure thriller of sound films was this terrific yarn starring Ronald Colman in the title role. He plays a ‘demobilized officer’ of World War I who returns to his life of plush aristocracy only to find it deathly boring and his life in need of a bit of a jump. Deciding to implement a little adventure into his life, he advertises in the London newspaper as someone in need of a death-defying, but possibly fun, adventure and immediately finds himself swamped with requests for help. The one he answers is (of course) a desperate plea by a young lady to please help her recover her rich uncle from a kidnapper posing as a nursing-home doctor. Twists and turns galore, with an ending always in sight until someone pulls the rug out and lets the chase continue, this film features a great blend of pulse-pounding adventure and high-level hilarity. Its age shows in the rusty editing, but the camera work is superb: lots of deep shadows and stylized poses more suited to a von Sternberg drama than a penny-arcade spy movie.
Academy Award Nominations: Best Actor (Ronald Colman); Best Art Direction