starring Rudolph Valentino and Bebe Daniels
Marking the return of Rudolph Valentino to the screen - and probably the biggest drawing card among all the productions of the early fall season - "Monsieur Beaucaire" is an adaptation, and a highly workmanlike one, of Booth Tarkington's romantic vignette. It possesses charm, delicacy, a genuine interest and a Watteau loveliness.
Tired of the court of Louis XV and spurned by a beautiful princess, the Duke de Chartres starts out in quest of true love. He masquerades as a barber within the sacred circle of Beau Nash at old Bath in England, only to find that real romance lies back at Versailles, at the feet of the princess. So he goes back to his title and to happiness.
As originally written in novelette form, "Monsieur Beaucaire" centered about Bath. Curiously, as developed into celluloid, it reaches its strongest vein of interest in the freshly created sequence in the court ruled by Louis XV and Madame Pompadour. All the way, however, it maintains a uniformity of charm.
Valentino's Duke de Chartres seems to us to reveal a great deal more technical resource than anything he has yet done for the films. It has poise, distinction and quite a deal of subtlety. If the star's appeal is subordinated to silks and laces in making Valentino into something of a valentine, there is, nevertheless, enough to set feminine hearts fluttering everywhere.
Next to the star is Bebe Daniels as the Princess Henriette. It is an exquisite bit. Lowell Sherman's Louis XV is deft, and the rest of the cast flits adequately across the silken background. All save Doris Kenyon as Lady Mary, the belle of Bath. There is incongruity here. She seems out of the picture.
starring Rudolph Valentino and Bebe Daniels
MOTION PICTURE MAGAZINE
What will be accepted as one of this or any other season's most elaborate, most artistic, most fascinating productions is the much-heralded "Monsieur Beaucaire," which brings Rudolph Valentino back to the screen. For sheer pictorial beauty, it is a triumph of celluloid art. One might call it a triumph of lyric romance - so graceful is its love story.
No more ideal choice could be imagined for the expression of Valentino's personality and talent. And as the Duc de Chartres, who flees to England to escape the rage of his cousin, King Louis XV, for refusing to marry Henriette - and again as the French barber, Beaucaire, Valentino acts with a fine romantic air. He steps into his character as if Tarkington had him in mind when conceiving the story. His reckless abandon - his spirit as he dashes away from the French court, will stimulate the romances in the heart of everyone who sees the picture. And who is going to miss it? So much for Valentino.
The Tarkington tale has been reproduced with rare charm. It is a rich example of superlative direction on the part of Sidney Olcott. So beautiful are his groupings in the early reels dealing with the glittering court life of Louis that they seem like a moving panorama of master paintings. It is as if groups of Watteaus were humanized. Olcott has been eminently successful in transferring to the screen all the glamour, romance, drama, intrigue and beauty of the days of glorious chivalry. He brings out appealing pathos, too, in the search of Louis's cousin for true romance in the person of the Belle of Bath, but she scorns him when she discovers that he is a barber. So he returns to the French court - a court slowly dying of ennui because of the lack of his sparkling wit and daring escapades. But before he returns he pays his compliments to the Bath lady - and she suffers the first humiliation of her life.
Pictorially, the film is the most beautiful we can remember seeing. Every shot is a delight to the eye. The lighting is marvelous - the photography exquisite. And Harry Fishbeck, the cameraman, may properly be called an artist. The acting is fully up to histrionic requirements. All the players bring a fine appreciation of the demands of their respective roles. Lois Wilson makes a charming Queen, and Bebe Daniels achieves the pinnacle of her career as the Princess. Doris Kenyon acts the Belle of Bath with delightful grace - and with a feeling of true aristocracy. Others presenting splendid portraits are Lowell Sherman as the decadent monarch, and Ian McLaren as the English trickster, Lord Winterset.
Video source: Movies Unlimited, Grapevine
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