Starring John Gilbert
MOVING PICTURE WORLD
April 1, 1922
Score another triumph for William Fox, whose screen version of "The County of Mnte Cristo," the hero of Alexandre Dumas' famous tale, has just had its premier at Tremont Temple, Boston, and bids fair to continue to attract capacity audiences for many weeks to come. The story is familiar to readers of literature. To theatergoers, it has been made equally familiar through the excellent histrionic work of James O'Neill in the stage version. As a screen offering, it is a gigantic spectacle, rife with thrilling events and episodes, and it brings the story of Edmond Dantes, the Count of Monte Cristo, before the public in a most vivid and picturesque manner.
One would look far to find another story in which there is so much and varied material at hand for dramatic treatment, and he would indeed to ultra-critical who can look upon it and not find it far above the usual filming, and not declare it actually brilliant.
Naturally in so stupendous a tale, with so many thrilling passages and highly interesting situations, much of necessity has to be left out in the filming. But so artistically has the story been told in picturization, and so great attention has been paid to the details, that the continuity remains unbroken, and the rapidly succeeding events can be followed as closely and in as connected a form by those who have not read the book as by those who are familiar with Dumas' classic.
In its direction, Emmett J. Flynn had accomplished a notable piece of artistic realism, while the cast selected for the great picturization reads like a "Who's Who in the Films." John Gilbert, the hero of "Shame," essays the role of Edmond Dantes, the Count, in a most admirable manner. Not only is he the happy, ingenious sailor, but, as the Count of Monte Cristo, he is the sophisticated, courteous, but implacable foe, not willing to rest from the labors until his three enemies' lives are ended. Estelle Taylor, whose rise in the films has been a rapid one, takes the part of Mercedes most delightfully. Robert McKim fits well into the part of the corrupt judge, De Villefort; William V. Mong, the Merlin of "Connecticut Yankee" fame, portrays the character of Caderousse; and Virginia Faire is the Princess Haydee. To George Seigmann is given the amusing role of Luigi Vampa, and Spottiswoode Aitken is cast as the mild and gentle Abbe, the prisoner of the fortress who enables Monte Cristo to recover the gold and jewels that raise him to the high position he later occupies.
"Monte Cristo" abounds in beautiful scenic effects, and the photography shows the work of master craftsmen. In the delineation of the great scenes, Mr. Flynn's direction is excellent. His artistry is manifest at all times. He never dallies over scene or situation, and he excels particularly in the pictorial, the splendid feature settings. Infinite detail adds materially to these many and most appears at times as if the very spirit of Dumas is creeping into the film. Action, too, stirs him to excellence, and as a whole his telling of the tale is far in advance of anything he has done thus far.
At best, "The Count of Monte Cristo" is a highly involved tale, and it is a wonder that Mr. Flynn has been able to straighten it out into the tense, dramatic narrative that is depicted. In a word, "Monte Cristo" has "arrived" and it may be characterized as a clear-cut, well-done photoplay of most excellent parts. Mr. Fox easily may place it at the head, or very close to the head, of his long list of super-productions. It should prove to be a big money-maker for any exhibitor.
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