I know I should have gone to see The Dark Knight, and I really want to see Hellboy 2, too. But instead I watched DVD movies this weekend.
Two were silents from my new Douglas Fairbanks collection. The first was Don Q, Son of Zorro (1925), which is notable for featuring Warner Oland (the Swedish actor who later became Charlie Chan) in a character role, and Mary Astor, who would later play the dame fatale in The Maltese Falcon. I always found her kind of brittle and uninteresting in TMF, but here, as an ingénue, she’s completely adorable.
Then there was Robin Hood (1922), an impressive epic-scale effort by Fairbanks which is completely sabotaged by some idiot’s decision to have the Merry Men actually skip and prance everywhere they go in Sherwood Forest. Now I know what Mel Brooks was lampooning in Men In Tights. It looks unbelievably silly and fey. Oddly enough, Little John is played by Alan Hale, who would reprise the role in the far superior Errol Flynn vehicle in 1938.
I capped it off with a viewing of Master and Commander / The Far Side of the World with Russell Crowe. I’d only seen it once, back when it first ran in theaters, and remembered that I liked it. But I’d forgotten how good it was. I’m crazy about that whole tall ships thing. Maybe it’s genetic. One of my great-great-grandfathers sailed on a merchant voyage to China around the turn of the 19th Century, and one of my great-grandfathers was a cook on a whaling ship.
Of course you can’t help wanting to scream, “What in the living color were they thinking of, putting those little boys in harms way?” But that’s the way it was. It’s still a rousing seafaring movie, maybe the best ever made.
Tomorrow, back to Andrew Klavan.