starring Charles Farrell, Esther Ralston, Wallace Beery and George Bancroft
February, 1927

James Cruze need not care who makes the laws of this country as long as he can make its historical films. "Old Ironsides" pictures this country's pioneering as a sea power, just as "The Covered Wagon" showed our winning of a land empire.

It's a glorious story of a glorious achievement. The hero is the frigate Constitution, the lone vessel that freed the sea of Tripolitan pirates. The heroine is the barque, Esther, rescued by the Constitution, from the pirates. There is a human love story, too, a poetic romance of a landluberly boy and agirl whi ist eh embodiement of the sea. And there is gorgeous comedy in the adventures of two sailors an a colored cook, played with alty gusto by Wallace Beery, George Bancroft and George Godfrey. Also on the honor roll are Charles Farrell, a newcomer, and Esther Ralston.

The greatness of the film lies in Cruze's sure grasp of the principle involved -- "Millions for the defense but not one cent for tribute" -- and in his uncanny ability in recreating the very spirit of the times. He makes you see America as a young a vital nation, before she was concerned in dollar diplomacy and Sunday School legislation. It's a stirring ideal and the screen ought to be proud to hold it before the public.

A feature of the showing in New York is the Magnascope, a device that widens the screen to give more scope to the magnificent battle scenes. But "Old Ironsides" is in itself a magnascope, for films like this double the dimensions of the power and influence of the screen."

Starring Wallace Beery, George Bancroft, Charles Farrell, Johnny Walker, and Esther Ralston
February, 1927

All of the superlatives in the newest dictionary are needed for the recommendation of "Old Ironsides," which takes rank with the screen's biggest achievements. It is fitting to call it the companion piece of "The Covered Wagon" ­ the two of them being Paramount's supreme films. The amazing part of it is ­ they are both accomplished by James Cruze.

This new opus glorifies the American Navy at the beginning of its glorious career ­ and glorifies it in terms of rich adventure, gusty humor ­ and tremendous action and suspense. It is sweeping in it emotional fervor, patriotic without revealing false heroics ­ and always picturesquely satisfying.

The story is sound and substantial, and if it caters to dramatic license occasionally, these lapses don't harm it, but, on the contrary, aid in intensifying the scenes. It is told in crisp and sustaining episodes ­ episodes colored with a set of lusty titles by Rupert Hughes.

I would call it a thorough job ­ this production ­ unfolding as it does to a climax when Old Ironsides swings into action that holds one in a gripping, tight embrace. There is no dominant character. A group of clearly defined figures carry its story along, generating humor and thrills. These sturdy cameos are portrayed with especially fine gusto by Wallace Beery as a hard ­boiled bos'n, George Bancroft, Charles Farrell, Johnny Walker, Charles Hill Mailes and Esther Ralston ­ with the latter adding the romantic flavor.

However, the real romance is the tang of the sea, the spirit of the men who sailed and fought for Old Ironsides ­ and who drove the corsairs from the briny deep. This is the spirit which Laurence Stallings wove into the story, which Harry Carr and Walter Woods carried on in their adaptation ­ and which Cruze captured and fashioned into this superb production of the romance of an undefeated frigate.

It is magnificent and inspiring ­ one that will stir the most sluggish pulse and set the blood stream coursing thru a set of hardened arteries.

What a director ­ this man Cruze! How he can tell a story with simple, direct, forceful strokes! He'll bear the cry of Encore over this ­ and modestly take his bow.

Video source: Movies Unlimited

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