Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Divine Lady (Frank Lloyd, 1929) C-

A completely trite and ordinary silent romantic melodrama that probably wouldn't have been nominated for it's Academy Awards if it wasn't a glossy period piece that probably spared no expense. Disputed Best Actress nominee Corinne Griffith plays Emma, the cook's daughter who, through fate and a scheming nephew, manages to marry an older English ambassador in Italy during the French Revolution. She eventually meets, saves and falls in love with naval hero Horatio Nelson. Since they are both married, however, a scandal erupts and they must decide what to do about their relationship. Everything in The Divine Lady borrows from some earlier and greater silent films: the forbidden romance was handled much better in The Big Parade, the naval battle was a lot more spectacular in the 1925 Ben-Hur and the tragedy of the whole situation felt much more tragic in any Greta Garbo vehicle of the 20's. Corrine Griffith was quite good in the early scenes, especially when she freaked the fuck out and started going off on the neighbor lady, and I was disappointed when that same energy and spontaneity all but disappeared by the end of the film.

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