Cast & Crew
Tina, a general slavey at the Red Mill Inn who suffers from the extreme temper of her employer, Willem, falls in love with Dennis, a visitor to the Netherlands. Gretchen, the burgomaster's daughter, is betrothed to the elderly governor, though she is actually in love with Captain Edam. Tina masquerades as Gretchen in order to prevent the forced marriage, and when she is locked in a haunted mill, she is rescued by Dennis.
J. Russell Powell
The Red Mill
The Red Mill was based on the 1906 Victor Herbert/Henry Blossom operetta of the same name that had opened at the Knickerbocker Theater in New York and ran for 274 performances. It was directed by William B. Goodrich (abbreviated to Will B. Good), a pseudonym used by former comedy star Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle after being accused of a rape which led to the murder of a starlet in 1922. Although Arbuckle endured three trials and was later acquitted with the jury completely exonerating him, his career in front of the cameras was halted until just before his untimely death in 1933. Within the industry itself, Arbuckle had the support of his friends and, with no option of continuing as a performer, was forced to switch to directing. It was his good friend Buster Keaton who had personally asked for Arbuckle to be given the assignment, even though he was assisting him at the time on Sherlock, Jr. (1924).
As Kevin Brownlow wrote in his book The Parade's Gone By, "Keaton approached the matter subtly; he talked to Marion Davies, pointing out that Arbuckle was in a terrible state after the trials, and that one directing job might make all the difference. 'Roscoe and I are such close pals that getting the job from me wouldn't mean anything,' explained Keaton. 'He'd think it was charity' [...] Arbuckle was placed in a dilemma when Marion Davies persuaded Hearst to hire him; he was anxious not to let Keaton down, but he dared not miss the chance of an expensive picture. Having Hearst choose Arbuckle was ironic, because Hearst's papers had been instrumental in destroying Arbuckle during the trials."
According to Andy Edmunds in her book Frame Up!, Hearst asked King Vidor to do re-takes as he was not happy with the result. Arbuckle's touch can be seen in Mordaunt Hall's New York Times review of the film in which he complains, "This background [Holland] deserves a better story, and so does Miss Davies. It is all very well to have a mouse appear out of a hole in Miss Davies's sabot, but that and other comedy touches drag the narrative down to something dangerously near to slapstick. Flowerpots are hurled across yards, and the haunted mill has all its queer noises at work as soon as Tina (Miss Davies) is locked in there by the proprietor of the nice, old inn.
"Scenically, The Red Mill is frequently very interesting, with its reproductions of a small Dutch community wherein one perceives a nice, comfortable old inn, a canal and the inevitable windmill. The story, however, which is based on that of the musical comedy by Victor Herbert and Henry Blossom, limps along, relying sometimes on strained puns in the subtitles to carry it over the dikes and ditches. The humor is far from subtle, but nevertheless a charitably inclined audience in the Capitol Theatre yesterday afternoon was occasionally moved to mirth, either by the actions of a white mouse or by the happenings in the so-called haunted mill.
"Marion Davies and others in the cast do their best to imbue their respective characters with individuality, which is a pretty thankless task. This chronicle is a Cinderella yarn and Miss Davies appears as a Dutch drudge in the nice, old inn. She has been willing to appear before the camera with a freckled face and without any hair protruding under her cap. In fact, she tries to make herself look plain so that when she appears in a subsequent sequence, the contrast is pleasing. She is active, good-natured and willing to fall through the ice, to tumble down a well and to be soundly thrashed by Willem, the proprietor of the nice, old inn."
Director: William Goodrich Screenplay: Frances Marion (adaptation and scenario); Victor Herbert, Henry Blossom (musical comedy); Joseph Farnham (titles)
Cinematography: H. Sartov
Music: Michael Picton (2006 alternate version)
Film Editing: Daniel J. Gray
Cast: Marion Davies (Tina), Owen Moore (Dennis), Louise Fazenda (Gretchen), George Siegman (Willem), Karl Dane (Captain Jacop Van Goop), J. Russell Powell (Burgomaster), Snitz Edwards (Caesar), William Orlamond (Governor), Ignatz (Himself, a Mouse).
by Lorraine LoBianco
The New York Times: The Red Mill by Mordaunt Hall, February 14, 1927
The All-Movie Guide by Hal Erickson
The Parades Gone By by Kevin Brownlow