Starring Jack Holt, Seena Owen, Lon Chaney, Ben Deely. Bull Montana and Wallace Beery
February, 1920

Maurice Tourneur accomplishes a rare feat in this splendid melodrama whose name is capitalized above. He puts Joseph Conrad - the absolute Joseph Conrad - on the screen, while very seriously altering Joseph Conrad's story! That is to say, Tourneur has caught, and conveys, the true spirit, the real philosophy, of the author. In this respect the distinguished French-American has more unerring capabilities, perhaps, than any other camera-master now at work. Not since his great optic transcription of "Sporting Life" has he so thoroughly caught the timbre, as a musician would say, of the thing in which he has engaged. Every reader of Conrad's dark, but superb story remembers that it ended in a tragedy of hellish laughter: the bullet intended for the fiend Ricardo hits that passionate saint Alma. And with her dies the youthful philosopher Heyst, whom she has drawn from an existence of self-immurement, only to an end of final despair. In Tourneur's picture things go just the other way: Heyst has killed Ricardo, and the anthropoid Pedro, in ultimate revenge, dumps "Mr. Jones," face forward, into the fire, while out in the tropic garden Heyst says the tender word, and Alma comes to his arms as the organist pulls the stops for the exit march. Yet, though the Conrad finale is so radically upset, the dark splendor of Conrad's thought is preserved in every scene, and in every episode you get the slow, majestic, tense movement of his strange drama. It is not a pleasant picture. It may best be described profanely, as a heller. The internal glare upon the face of Mr. Jones, as he goes over into the fire; the deviltry of Schomberg; the cold evil of the aforesaid Mr. Jones; the leers of the serpentine Ricardo - none of these are happy subjects for contemplation. Yet what superb characterizations! Wallace Beery as Schomberg, Lon Chaney as Ricardo, Ben Deely as Jones, Bull Montana as Pedro: here is acting; acting that you won't often find duplicated on stage or screen. Jack Holt is very fine as the virile young philosopher, and Seena Owen is at once sensuous and sensitive as Alma. Mr. Tourneur has made a fine art of suspense in this photoplay.

Starring Jack Holt, Seena Owen, Lon Chaney, Ben Deely. Bull Montana and Wallace Beery
December 28, 1919

Maurice Tourneur has created a moving and effective picture drama for Paramount out of the novel "Victory," by Joseph Conrad, one of the greatest narratives every written in English. The fact the Tourneur's film does not resemble Conrad's book can be urged by the captions in the picture's disfavor, but this is incompetent criticism, though it has a justified appeal. That appeal is best disposed of at once. It lapses once we admit that the picture is not the book, and that those who have read the novel with any feeling for its grasp of character, its majestic construction, its pure flood of such English as has not been written since Marlowe, should not go to see the picture.

Why they should not go to see it is for the very simple reason that the author, by language and without the aid of pictures, creates in each reader's mind a mental image of the characters discussed that cannot be approximated by any actor or director. Everyone's idea will be slightly different. Consequently everyone will carp at the picture, but let that go.

The exhibitors, and more particularly to the picture viewing public, Paramount presents in "Victory" a creditable melodrama ably acted, directed and beautifully photographed. The story as told on the screen, as distinguished from Conrad's won, relates how Axel Heyst takes Alma from the traveling theatrical troupe with which she is unhappy to his lonely island. Jealous of him, Schomberg, the hotel proprietor, sics a gang of crooks on Heyst by telling them Heyst has buried treasure with him. They go after it. The girl and the senior crook's hatred of women combine to form a swift and picturesque climax and denouement in which two of the crooks at least meet with an untimely end, and Alma and Heyst find love and happiness. This differs from the Conrad story. In it Ricardo, sitting at the feet of Alma, is shot at by "Mr. Jones." The bullet misses and hits Alma, who dies, Heyst perishing with her in the flames.

Probably the eagle eye of the censor is responsible for cutting the fight between Alma and Ricardo, but it is well cut. Of the latter character, Lon Chaney gave a visualization that was very effective. The other parts were competently played, and the picture itself is full of that feeling for effect on which Tourneur's reputation is grounded.

For more information, see "Victory" as our "Feature of the Month"

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