A couple of weeks ago, I posted a review of a silent entitled the The Thief of Baghdad. In this review, I stated that although I was dazzled by Douglas Fairbanks’ theatrics the film was nothing more than action fluff. I bring this up because although this film showcases a different male heart-throb, it is nonetheless very similar to the Thief of Baghdad. It is set an exotic land, features a lot of daring action sequences and has a romance at the center of the plot that is very contrived. Similar as these two films are, the Eagle has something that is strikingly in its favor: a good female lead.
Mascha, a young Russian woman who is rescued by Valentino’s character early on in the film, proves to be a vulnerable yet meekly strong woman when faced by rough times. She is not above getting rescued by a handsome young man, but when he turns out to be an enemy of her father’s, she is still not afraid to keep loving him. The actress that plays Mascha is Vilma Banky. She is not a well-known name in cinema history for one reason: she had a terrible Hungarian accent that she could not get rid of when the switch to talkies came about.
This is my first taste of the infamous hunk that is Rudolph Valentino. Let’s just say I know why he held so much appeal to women. I would have him rescue me from a runaway carriage any day. He seems to get a lot of his acting across by simply looking charming (a lot like Douglas Fairbanks in the Thief of Baghdad). Although through most of the film he is amiable enough, towards the end the film had a hard time wrapping itself up. Was he going to get revenge against this man or not? Isn’t the ultimate revenge marrying his daughter? Why don’t you just woo her and get it over with…geez. Of course that is what happens, but let me make sure that you know it wasn’t for revenge, but for true love (ahh isn’t that schweet?).
One other thing that might have come up in other silent film reviews, but I want to say again is the quickness that an onscreen couple falls in love. It is quite frankly scary to watch how fast these couples want to marry. There is sometimes only one scene of courting before look there is this huge rock on my hand and wedding bells on the soundtrack. Is the slow burn to a romance only a function of accompanying sound? I mean if I were Mascha, I would want marry this hunk of a man in heartbeat, but just what was so charming about her that he wanted to tie down his wild reins and give up on revenge so quickly? I feel like her charm would develop over a long period and his hunkiness would probably fade pretty fast to reveal a thrill seeking, proud individual. Oh well what can you do, huh? Just watch the films and shut my trap, I suppose.