Vengeance in the Ashes
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As a chronic liver disease brings her life to a close, her thought passes back to the chance for romance she let pass by. Physically and emotionally, hers is a world of harrowing constraint, but in a way it's no different than the realms inhabited by her well-traveled husband or the sophisticated documentary filmmaker. All these characters are living in amber, petrified in the resin of that old conflict. Bock moves back and forth through time in a series of exquisite scenes, always keeping his vision tightly focused, despite the world-altering events he describes.
What makes the novel so compelling and disturbing, though, is its emotional restraint. Each of these characters presents a face of thoughtful composure, but inside, all of them burn with anger, or guilt, or remorse.
Monitor Movie Guide. Monitor Daily. Photos of the Week. The moral calculus of war is more complex than atomic physics. September 27, By Ron Charles. Fewer jobs at City Hall - one way Flynn can begin to arrest the deficit. Share this article Copy link Link copied. Removing white paint from old brick house.
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Reagan's 'hard sell' for guns. Bell, and Rory O'Connor. New York: Penguin Books. Subscribe to continue. Get unlimited Monitor journalism. Learn more. That is when Tearle is in bed, with Miss Talmadge watching over him. Lloyd, in directing, seems to have obtained all the results possible from the story.
It is always pleasing to the eye and in a drowsy manner that would be perfect to watch were one installed in a loge chair at the Capitol. The story deals with a lifelong feud between the Vrieac and Roche families. Rupert de Vrieac Tearle engages in a duel with the Comte de la Roche, who succumbs to his mercy, but Rupert allows him his life as a result of an outburst of satirical generosity. The same night the attach upon the Huguenots is launched and the Comte returns the favor by saving Rupert, an avowed member, and his betrothed from the mob under condition that the Vrieac representative will become his servant for a period of five years.
The bondage becomes effective immediately with the meeting of Yoeland de Breux Miss Talmadge , the Comte's sister, and Rupert coming as a matter of course. While in the role of servant Rupert learns of his fiancee's marriage to another. Numerous heroic deeds have endeared him to Yoeland and the finale is reached when the Comte prematurely gives him back his freedom as a reward and the sister and Rupert declare their love for each other. The cast has turned in a nice piece of work, but it is Miss Talmadge and Mr. Tearle who predominate.
Wallace Beery as the cowardly Duc de Tours is the only other member to gain particular attention and this he does emphatically. This production is one of the first of the promised flood of costume pictures.
It is doubtful if any of the others will be more beautifully staged and costumed, or more effectively photographed. It is a story of the time of Catherine de Medici and Charles IX, her son, King of France, when the old queen forced the weak-brained ruler to sign the order for the massacre of the Huguenots. This massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve, which is strikingly done, is introduced early in the picture to give an excuse for the really charming love story on which the play is based. The grand ballroom in the Louvre is said to be the largest interior set ever built and it certainly looks it.
Director Frank Lloyd has told a most interesting story and has placed it in fascinating surroundings. But he has been too careful in his attention to detail, as a result of which the picture drags at times and is frequently inclined to tediousness. Miss Talmadge gives a delightful portrayal of the proud Yoeland de Breux , although, peculiarly enough, it seems at times as if she were more the leading lady than the star, so brightly does Conway Tearle shine in the role of her lover.
There are many bits of real action--thrilling sword play and exciting fights to keep suspense pretty much in the foreground. Running close to Miss Talmadge and Mr.
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Tearle in the excellence of acting is Wallace Beery, who can always be relied upon to create a repellant villain. The picture is over long which is, in a way, fortunate, because judicious cutting will improve it. Scenically, improvement is hardly possible.
It is a costume play with a historical background, the action occurring in the sixteenth century during the stirring period of intense religious-political rivalry, when the weak French king was but a tool in the hands of the faction headed by his unscrupulous mother, Catherine De Medici, whose schemes culminated in the massacre of the Huguenots on St. Bartholomew's Eve.
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Never has the screen presented a more magnificent or gigantic presentation. Those were the days when the nobles lived in huge castles, surrounded by scores of their own soldiers; when the beauty and gorgeousness of men's apparel vied with those of the women. All of this is depicted on a scale that indicates unlimited research and practical disregard for expense in having everything historically accurate and on the same tremendous scale as the original.
Whole blocks of medieval French streets were built, and there are interior scenes of rooms in the palaces that make the spectator marvel at this feat of construction, but not only do they impress from the point of size and magnificence, but because of the accuracy and care, even to the smallest detail. This is also true of the costuming, but there are literally hundreds of characters garbed in gorgeous silk, lace and velvet and scores of retainers on horseback clothed in the livery and armor of their masters.
A striking scene indicative of the scope of the production is the marriage celebration in the ballroom of the Louvre, said to be the largest interior set ever built, with hundreds of gorgeously costumed men and women dancing the stately minuet in perfect rhythm, stretching back almost as far as the eye can see. This alone is a wonderful directorial feat that reflects great credit on Director Frank Lloyd, and the handling of the entire production is in keeping with this scene. Don't get the impression that the human interest story has been dwarfed by the scale of the production, for the theme is one of a great love that, despite all difficulties and in face of hereditary pride, overcomes a tremendous hate that has endured for generations between two families.
True it is that because of the multiplicity of characters and events leading up to this romance, the heart of the story is some time in getting under way, and considerable footage has elapsed before the star appears on the scene; but from then on the story, though it at no time assumed a very rapid movement, holds the interest, and the perfection of the "atmosphere" makes it all seem very real and living. This is especially true after the introduction of the despicable Duc de Tours, whose actions precipitate situations which arouse intense disgust for him and sympathy and admiration for the others.
Naturally, with a story of this kind, there is much sword-play, with duel scenes and hand-to-hand fighting. All of this is exceedingly well done. No attempt has been made to inject comedy relief, though there are some amusing situations.
The entire action is in keeping with the period portrayed, even to the introduction of scenes which may seem unnecessarily cruel to many patrons, as, for instance, the brutal massacre of innocents on St. Bartholomew's Eve, the straining of a wolf to free itself from its chains, and its fight with the hero after it has done so, as well as the scenes where the duke, to win the princess, has the torturer prepare to blind the hero with red hot irons. Though the cast is a large and admirable one, and the work of all is in keeping with the production, the bulk of the action falls on the shoulders of a few players, all of whom give excellent performances, and seem thoroughly imbued with the spirit of the story.
Norma Talmadge has never been seen to better advantage, and her performance is truly excellent. As the duke's sister, clad in gorgeous gowns, she is beautiful to look at--imperious and gracious as the occasion requires--and is just as effective when the real woman stands revealed in the beauty of a great love.