Graustark (1925) Joseph M. Schenck Productions/First National. Produced by Joseph M. Schenck. Directed by Dimitri Buchowetzki. Adaptation by Frances Marion. Photography by Tony Gaudio. Cast: Norma Talmadge, Eugene O'Brien, Marc MacDermott, Roy D'Arcy, Albert Gran, Lillian Lawrence, Michael Vavich, Frank Currier, Winter Hall, Wanda Hawley. 7 reels. A copy of reels 2 and 4-7 is located at the Library of Congress (35 mm.) (the copy of 6 single 28 mm. reels at the George Eastman House reported as this film is actually the 1915 version with Francis X. Bushman and Beverly Bayne)
|Dust jacket||Norma Talmadge as Princess Yetive.|
|The entire court turned out for the betrothal ceremony.||Grenfall Lorry reached the scene just in time to see his beloved plighted to another.|
|Princess Yetive clung to Lorry's arm while the criminal confessed.|
|Still photo and Stanford Theater ad provided by Derek Boothroyd
(click on the thumbnail for a larger view)
First National Production by Joseph M. Schenck with Norma Talmadge starred. Adapted to screen by Frances Marion from George Barr McCutcheon's novel. Directed by Dimitri Buchowetski. At the Capitol, New York, Sept. 6, week. Running time, 70 min.
|Princess Yetive||Norma Talmadge|
|Grenfall Lorry||Eugene O'Brien|
|Prince Gabriel||Marc McDermott|
|Count Halfont||Albert Gram|
|Countess Halfont||Lillian Lawrence|
|Captain Quinnox||Michael Vavitch|
|King Ferdinand||Frank Currier|
|The American Ambassador||Winter Hall|
|Countess Dagmar||Wanda Hawley|
"Graustark" tells the familiar tale of an American love for a royal princess. Because it is all romance with never a tinge of sexiness, "Graustark" is in itself a great relief from the usual run of photoplays. Added to whatever worth there is in the story is the production accorded the film by Joseph M. Schenck. It is safe to say that few regular features have had such sumptuous settings and that few have been made with so much attention to intricate detail. As a program picture "Graustark" is 100 per cent suitable to any house.
The story opens when the hero, Grenfall Lorry, sees Princess Yetive sitting in a dining car window--in the train opposite. Immediately he boards her train, and on the transcontinental journey is ignorant of her royal blood, but conscious of his love. And she loves him, too, so when she is forced home to consummate a marriage for state reasons, it is hard for both of them. Still, Lorry hasn't learned that she's a princess, for in America she was traveling incognito as Miss Guggenslocker.
He knows the lived in Graustark and once there he had the American ambassador help him locate the girl. At a court ball he scanned a thousand faces, and finally stopped in his tracks when he saw his Miss Guggenslocker in regal robes, descending a grand staircase with her father, King Ferdinand.
The latter part of the film is a detail of how they outwitted the villain, who wanted to marry her.
Norma Talmadge, as the princess, never looked so beautiful. Her gowns are all creations and eye smashing.
In her support Eugene O'Brien, Marc McDermott and Albert Gran are notable, and everybody else is excellent.
The settings are heavy, impressive and artistically done, while in several instances straight line effects are used for what seems to be futuristic stuff. But futuristic in its intent or not, the whole thing is as handsome as the Kohinoor diamond.
Buchowetski, the director, is the same man who made such a flop of "The Swan" in pictures by rearranging the story. Here he has taken no such liberties and with competent people to direct, he has handled them well.
[Omitted, photo of Talmadge in feathered hat looking at Eugene O'Brien]
GRAUSTARK--First National. Here's your old friend "Graustark" with its face lifted and a lot of new clothes. Norma Talmadge plays the Princess Yetive who falls in love with Eugene O'Brien. It's a nice romance for those who like long duets between the soprano and the tenor, and Miss Talmadge is slim and regal in her splendid background. And love conquers all, even our good sense.--A.S.
Though it was announced that Talmadge's next film would be an adaptation of Madame Pompadour, directed by Victor Heerman, what actually emerged was Graustark, a lightweight bit of fluff in modern dress. It marked her final appearance with ten-time leading man Eugene O'Brien, who was rewarded with what is essentially the lead in the film. It received generally favorable reviews, but Iris Barry despised it, calling it "all folly and bathos." It is a very beautiful looking film with art direction by William Cameron Menzies, the first of several with Talmadge. Judging from the fragments viewed, she gives a strangely unsatisfactory performance in what is not an especially challenging part. Girlish vivacity did not come to her as naturally as it once did, and she is rather forced in the lighter parts of the picture, with excessive jumping about and clasping of hands. Her dramatic scenes are largely confined to reaction shots of her closing her eyes, leaning back her head, and clutching herself in various places. Even her plea to her people is done in long shot. Perhaps she and director Dimitry Buchowetzki could not find common ground.
Print viewed: reels 2, 4-7 in 35 mm at the Library of Congress.
Last revised, April 10, 2010