Production Company: First National Pictures
Top Billed Actors: Corinne Griffith, Victor Varconi, H.B. Warner
IMDb Rating: 6.4
*Exclusive Award Winner*
Won 1 Oscar:
Best Director - Frank Lloyd
Nominated for 2 more:
Best Actress - Corinne Griffith
Best Cinematography - John F. Seitz
Plot: A beautiful girl bounces from man to man until she settles on a guy with one arm and a blind eye.
This movie is the only one to not be nominated for Best Picture and still go on to win Best Director (excluding Lewis Milestone's comedy directing win the previous year). Frank Lloyd would nominate two best picture winners in the 1930s, but this one didn't fit the bill for the second Awards. Lloyd's direction is superb in this one. Certain sequences bring this film to life, such as the busy fair scene and the montage in the deathbed scene at the end. These are a few examples of how creative these movies were when not worried about the limitations and kinks that other films had to endure when transitioning to talkies. One such cinematic technique that I found very clever, albeit minor, is when Corinne Griffith is looking out at sea with a telescope. The lens on the camera made the shot round, like the telescope itself. I also enjoyed the clever uses of letters and newspaper clippings rather than strictly title cards. The acting by the gorgeous Corinne Griffith was phenomenal and much better than the winning Mary Pickford in Coquette (1929). The score is also top notch with some excellent singing sequences that are actually in sync with Griffith's lips.
This movies is not without its faults. I did have an issue with the pacing and plot focus. The pacing got pretty slow at times, especially when Griffith and Victor Varconi shared the screen. Varconi, the British admiral, and Griffith, the Lady Hamilton, fall in love with each other. I would have liked to see the both of them doing something other than staring at each other or sitting around by the sea. Also, the focus of the film seemed odd as the first and third acts focus more on Griffith and the second act focuses on Varconi and the awesome naval battles. The battles at sea are amazing, but it would have been nice to shift back to Griffith every now and then, as she is the titular character.
Overall, this is an excellent film with some pacing and character issues. It is still a breath of fresh air amidst the horrible talkies of the late 1920s.
My Score: 7/10