RED LILY, THE
(director/writer: Fred Niblo; screenwriter: Bess Meredyth/based on a story by Fred Niblo; cinematographer: Victor Milner; editor: Lloyd Nosler; music: H. Scott Salinas; cast: Ramon Novarro (Jean Leonnec), Enid Bennett (Marise La Noue), Frank Currier (Hugo Leonnec), Wallace Beery (Bo-Bo), Gibson Gowland (Le Turc, obnoxious boss), Mitchell Lewis (D’Agut), Dick Sutherland (The Toad), Rosemary Theby (Nana), Emily Fitzroy(Mama Bouchard), George Periolat (Papa Bouchard), Milla Davenport (Madame Poussot); Runtime: 78; MPAA Rating: NR; MGM; 1924-silent)
“A low-level soap opera.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An overwrought silent melodrama directed by Fred Niblo (“Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ”-1925/”Blood and Sand”-1922) that’s based on a story by Mr. Niblo and cowritten by the director with Bess Meredyth; it also stars the director’s Australian born wife Enid Bennett and hot young Mexican-born star Ramon Novarro, who starred in The Prisoner of Zenda-1922 and was promoted as “The New Valentino.”
It opens in the pastoral Brittany small-town of Vivonne where the wealthy mayor’s son Jean Leonnec (Ramon Novarro) is in love with the poor cobbler’s daughter Marise La Noue (Enid Bennett), even though his haughty big-wheel father Hugo (Frank Currier) disapproves of the gal from the wrong side of the tracks. When Marise’s father suddenly dies of a heart attack, the impoverished young lady is forced to live with her cruel relatives. One rainy night when threatened with a beating by the abusive relative D’Agut (Mitchell Lewis), she runs away seeking shelter with Jean. They elope to Paris, but before they get married his father has him arrested for stealing his money. Jean jumps off the train taking him back to Brittany but arrives late at night just when Marise gave up hope and left the Paris station. It turns out that the police nab the right person in Vivonne who stole Hugo’s cash, but Jean still thinks he’s a fugitive and when he never meets Marise again becomes involved with the criminal element through petty thief Bo-Bo (Wallace Beery). Meanwhile Marise has a rough time surviving a series of jobs doing hard labor and ages badly as the years roll by, finally taking a job as a bar girl hustler. When they finally meet, he’s bitterly disappointed by how bad she looks and no longer thinks of her as his angel. When he’s wounded while running from the police, she hides him in her place and nurses him back to health in spite of the way he treats her like a dog. Back in his underground bar hangout at Bouchard’s, the police trail him and Marise takes a bullet for him as he escapes through the sewers beneath the city. When his heart softens towards her, Jean visits her in the hospital and is arrested by the police. Jean serves a year in prison, while Marise faithfully waits for him working as a seamstress and once again looks radiant. When Jean gets out they marry and return by horse carriage with Bo-Bo to their hometown to live happily ever after.
Basically a low-level soap opera, with hysterical performances that were unintentionally funny and a trite story that does not age well. Plays as a curio for film buffs and film historians.
REVIEWED ON 7/17/2006 GRADE: C