BARDELYS THE MAGNIFICENT
starring John Gilbert and Eleanor Boardman
So long as King Vidor and John Gilbert take Raphael Sabatini's story seriously, this picture remains just another costume preduction, smoothly told, artfully acted, but not guaranteed to give any ticket-seller a nervous breakdown. But when star and director say:
"Come, come, enough of this seventeenth century intrigue. Let's make a comic movie," then it snaps into great entertaiment.
It's a story of another one of those mediaeval male Peggy Joyces, who sets out to win a hard-to-get-Gertie of the privinces, in spite of the fact that Louis XIII simply can't bear to have his favorite wisecracker leave Paris. Once the boy vamp sets eyes on the champion "No girl" of France, he gets a bad case of honorable intentions and risks his life in her service. Vidor tells the conventional story smoothly and sincerely, even if his atmosphere of those careless days is a little too spick-and-span. When he kicks over the traces at the climax, he hits a really gorgeous combination of farce and romance.
And there's a love scene, in a boat drifting among the willows, that has genuine poetic feeling. It's enough to make any picture.
Mr. Gilbert's performance is bold, fiery and immensely clever.
Eleanor Boardman acts with her brains; in spite of the beauty
of her romantic scenes, there is a refreshing sharpness about
her performance. As the villain, Roy D'Arcy makes some mean faces,
and John T. Murray, as the King's "yes man," does great
work. Of course, your season won't be complete unless you see
this picture. It's safe enough for the children.
Video source: Movies Unlimited, Critic's Choice, Amazon, Facets, Flicker Alley
Return to reviews page