John Trimble has embezzled and obtains another identity by having a mutilated body buried in his place. He is later arrested for murdering himself. During the trial his mother, before dying... See full summary »
Cecil B. DeMille
Charlie is a fireman who always does everything wrong. A man talks the Fire Chief into ignoring his burning home (he wants the insurance money) unaware that his daughter (the love of the ... See full summary »
John Trent, a World War I British officer, finds an ancient sword in his trench bunker just prior to volunteering for what will amount to a suicide mission the next day. That night he is visited by the spirit of Joan of Arc and is transported back to the 15th Century. Joan's career begins when, as a peasant girl, she meets Trent's ancestor, also an English soldier, fighting for the Burgundians. After Trent is captured, Joan is brought to the attention of the beleaguered Dauphin, heir to the French throne, who cannot be crowned because the English hold the royal city of Orleans. The weak Dauphin is impressed by her vision and apparently heaven-sent powers which border on the supernatural and ultimately gives her command of the armies. She is victorious at Orleans and the new King is crowned. Joan resists Trent's entreaties of love and continues her struggle to free the rest of her country from English occupation. Sinister forces, both English and French, conspire against her and she is...Written by
Gabe Taverney (email@example.com)
First film to use the Handschiegl Color Process. See more »
When Trent discovers the sword, he holds the hilt in his right hand. In the insert close-up the hilt is in his left hand. In the cutback, it has returned to the right. (In fact, the insert shot has been spliced in upside-down.) See more »
A Strange Maiden Clad in Armour Rides Through the Gates of Orleans
Premiered nearly a hundred years ago today on Christmas Day 1916, this marked the first of the historical epics with which Cecil B. DeMille's name became synonymous, and far excels his later sound spectacles, by which time he'd lost his enthusiasm for location filming and his films had become painfully studio bound, with just a few token exterior sequences left in the hands of second-unit directors. Handsomely designed by Wilfred Buckland and photographed by Alvin Wyckoff, at 138 minutes it weighs in at almost as long as Victor Fleming's Technicolor folly of 1948 with Ingrid Bergman and far surpasses it as spectacle.
Imposing a contemporary WWI framing story was probably prompted by Griffith's 'Intolerance' and pushes the film over the two hour mark, making it a long film even today; and the first third of the film drags a bit. The other weak link in the chainmail is Farrar herself. The title 'Joan the Woman' (compared to later versions with titles like 'Das Mädchen Johanna' and 'Jeanne la Pucelle') already seems to acknowledge that DeMille is aware that the 34 year-old soprano Geraldine Farrar looks extremely matronly in the role (much more so than the 32 year-old Ingrid Bergman in 1948), although in the rare close-ups DeMille gives her (in which she's usually noticeably lit for effect from below), she actually looks strikingly like the 43 year-old Hedy Lamarr in 'The Story of Mankind' (1957). She also unfortunately gives probably the worst performance in the film, constantly playing to the camera rather than the other actors.
However when Joan finally gets into her armour and lays siege to Orléans the film really gets going. The screen absolutely swarms with extras, some of whom look as if they're genuinely getting hurt (you can actually see some of them flinching). Joan's imprisonment and trial also captures DeMille's imagination and provides him with the opportunity to indulge in one of the torture sequences he developed a penchant for, to the accompaniment of appropriately dramatic 'Rembrandt' lighting. Now in the clutches of tombstone-faced Theodore Roberts as Cauchon, the faces of the menacing-looking extras DeMille amassed to fill the courtroom during Joan's trial are really something; as is her execution, when a flaming orange firebrand is applied to her pyre. Courtesy of the Handschiegl colour process she expires in an eye-boggling blaze of orange flames.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this