Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Germany, 1920. Projektions-AG Union. Screenplay by Hanns Kraly, Ernst Lubitsch, pantomime by Friedrich Freksa, from a book by Richard Riess. Cinematography by Theodor Sparkuhl, Kurt Waschneck. Music by Friedrich Hollaender, Victor Hollaender. Production Design by Erno Metzner, Kurt Richter. Costume Design by Ali Hubert.
Examining this silent film by Ernst Lubitsch, it is obvious that he had his famous touch from the beginning. This romantic adventure (“in six acts”!) takes place in an eastern kingdom where a powerful sheik has a plentifully populated harem. His star concubine, Sumurun, has her eye on a travelling merchant but is fearful for her master to find out lest he take out his wrath on both of them. Meanwhile, a troupe of players have landed in their town and its star attraction, a sexy dancer (Pola Negri) captures the sheik’s eye as his fancy for Sumurun begins to wear thin. Negri is also loved by two others, however, and the various complications of the plot see love in all its forms being thwarted and threatened before finally winning out in the end. Lubitsch himself contributes a terrific performance as the sad clown whose heart beats without hope, while the gorgeous sets and costumes really make the spectacle jump off the screen. Its plotting is completely silly but very diverting.