Bardelys the Magnificent


1h 29m 1926
Bardelys the Magnificent

Brief Synopsis

A notorious womanizer falls for the woman he has bet he can trick into marriage.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Silent
Period
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Nov 21, 1926
Premiere Information
Los Angeles premiere: 30 Sep 1926
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Bardelys the Magnificent by Rafael Sabatini (Boston & New York, 1905).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 29m
Sound
Silent
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.33 : 1
Film Length
8,536ft (9 reels)

Synopsis

King Louis XIII sends Chatellerault to win Roxalanne de Lavedan, hoping to keep the girl's fortune within the kingdom. When Chatellerault reports that Roxalanne is unapproachable, Bardelys, a courtier, wagers his entire estate against Chatellerault's that he will capture the girl within three months. En route, Bardelys finds a dying man and is given a miniature and some letters bearing the name Lesperon, whose identity he assumes. Finding that Lesperon is a traitor, he seeks shelter in the Lavedan estate, and though she is frightened, Roxalanne allows him to court her. Another suitor, St. Eustache, warns her that Lesperon is engaged to Mademoiselle Mersac. Bardelys is arrested for treason, but the arrival of the king saves him from execution. Roxalanne marries Chatellerault to save Bardelys' life, but Chatellerault is killed in a duel with the courtier, who is thereafter joined with his beloved.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Silent
Period
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Nov 21, 1926
Premiere Information
Los Angeles premiere: 30 Sep 1926
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Bardelys the Magnificent by Rafael Sabatini (Boston & New York, 1905).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 29m
Sound
Silent
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.33 : 1
Film Length
8,536ft (9 reels)

Articles

Bardelys the Magnificent


By 1926, star John Gilbert and director King Vidor were among MGM's biggest assets. Fresh off the critical and financial success of The Big Parade (1925), they had achieved an instinctive rapport after clashing on two earlier pictures. Capitalizing on a winning formula, the studio paired them again in two 1926 films, the tragic romance La Bohème, and the swashbuckler Bardelys the Magnificent.

Based on a novel by Rafael Sabatini (who also wrote Scaramouche, Captain Blood, and several other historical novels that were adapted for the screen), Bardelys the Magnificent takes place in France during the reign of Louis XIII. Gilbert plays a womanizing nobleman who makes a bet with a rival that he can seduce the aloof beauty Roxalanne de Lavedan, played by Eleanor Boardman, who married director Vidor soon after making the film. Many complications ensue, but Bardelys manages to swashbuckle his way out of them, and into true love with the fair Roxalanne. Dashingly played by Gilbert and smoothly directed by Vidor, the action sequences are exciting, but it's a languorous love scene that is the most memorable one in Bardelys.

As Vidor recalled in his memoirs, the scene was described in the script simply as "We should have a good love scene here." Vidor was on location in Pasadena at a park next to a small lake, with an entire crew and no idea how to stage the scene. "I saw a property man wading in the lake pushing an old rowboat he had brought along just in case the director asked for one. He brushed past the lone branch of a weeping willow tree hanging in the water. I asked the head grip: 'How long will it take you to make a tunnel of willow branches one hundred feet long?'" With the tunnel built and the camera mounted on the bow of the boat, Vidor and cinematographer William Daniels created a dreamy, impressionistic romantic moment. "The leaves threw a moving pattern of light and shadow which played moodily across the faces of the lovers. The arrangement, movement and lighting of the scene were in complete harmony. The total effect was one of magic." Vidor added that he was often asked about that scene. "They have forgotten the title, the actors, the author, even the melodramatic plot, but the magic of the camera made its indelible impression."

Bardelys the Magnificent was a hit with the public and the critics. According to Mordaunt Hall of the New York Times, "By his dashing portrayal of Bardelys, John Gilbert leaps into the active realms of Douglas Fairbanks, John Barrymore, and Mr. [Tom] Mix." Photoplay found Boardman impressive: "Eleanor Boardman acts with her brains; in spite of the beauty of her romantic scenes, there is a refreshing sharpness about her performance." Another critic wrote, "It is doubtful if anyone could have done more with the role of Bardelys than Gilbert....That man continues to be a fine actor." Gilbert himself dismissed the film, calling it "Applesauce. With one John Gilbert contributing most of the sauce."

Bardelys was the final film for the Gilbert-Vidor team. Vidor went on to direct one of his most esteemed silents, The Crowd (1928), and had a long career in talking films. Gilbert followed Bardelys with Flesh and the Devil (1927) co-starring Greta Garbo, and the two became the screen's hottest love team. Gilbert's career declined with the coming of talkies. For decades, Bardelys the Magnificent was presumed lost. The one tantalizing glimpse of the film was in Vidor's spoof of movie stardom, Show People (1928), when Marion Davies's movie-mad character watches it in a theater and swoons over the willows love scene. But in 2006, a nearly complete print was found in France. Bardelys was restored, using production stills and footage from a film trailer to fill in the missing section.

Director: King Vidor
Screenplay: Dorothy Farnum, based on the novel by Rafael Sabatini
Cinematography: William H. Daniels
Editor: Conrad Nervig
Costume Design: André-Ani
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Principal Cast: John Gilbert (Bardelys), Eleanor Boardman, (Roxalanne de Lavedan), Roy D'Arcy (Chatellerault), Lionel Belmore (Vicomte de Lavedan), Emily Fitzroy (Vicomtesse de Lavedan), George K. Arthur (Chevalier de St. Eustache), Arthur Lubin (King Louis XIII), Theodore von Eltz (Lesperon), Karl Dane (Rodenard), Edward Connelly (Cardinal Richelieu), Fred Malatesta (Castelroux), John T. Murray (LaFosse)
BW-90m.

Bardelys The Magnificent

Bardelys the Magnificent

By 1926, star John Gilbert and director King Vidor were among MGM's biggest assets. Fresh off the critical and financial success of The Big Parade (1925), they had achieved an instinctive rapport after clashing on two earlier pictures. Capitalizing on a winning formula, the studio paired them again in two 1926 films, the tragic romance La Bohème, and the swashbuckler Bardelys the Magnificent. Based on a novel by Rafael Sabatini (who also wrote Scaramouche, Captain Blood, and several other historical novels that were adapted for the screen), Bardelys the Magnificent takes place in France during the reign of Louis XIII. Gilbert plays a womanizing nobleman who makes a bet with a rival that he can seduce the aloof beauty Roxalanne de Lavedan, played by Eleanor Boardman, who married director Vidor soon after making the film. Many complications ensue, but Bardelys manages to swashbuckle his way out of them, and into true love with the fair Roxalanne. Dashingly played by Gilbert and smoothly directed by Vidor, the action sequences are exciting, but it's a languorous love scene that is the most memorable one in Bardelys. As Vidor recalled in his memoirs, the scene was described in the script simply as "We should have a good love scene here." Vidor was on location in Pasadena at a park next to a small lake, with an entire crew and no idea how to stage the scene. "I saw a property man wading in the lake pushing an old rowboat he had brought along just in case the director asked for one. He brushed past the lone branch of a weeping willow tree hanging in the water. I asked the head grip: 'How long will it take you to make a tunnel of willow branches one hundred feet long?'" With the tunnel built and the camera mounted on the bow of the boat, Vidor and cinematographer William Daniels created a dreamy, impressionistic romantic moment. "The leaves threw a moving pattern of light and shadow which played moodily across the faces of the lovers. The arrangement, movement and lighting of the scene were in complete harmony. The total effect was one of magic." Vidor added that he was often asked about that scene. "They have forgotten the title, the actors, the author, even the melodramatic plot, but the magic of the camera made its indelible impression." Bardelys the Magnificent was a hit with the public and the critics. According to Mordaunt Hall of the New York Times, "By his dashing portrayal of Bardelys, John Gilbert leaps into the active realms of Douglas Fairbanks, John Barrymore, and Mr. [Tom] Mix." Photoplay found Boardman impressive: "Eleanor Boardman acts with her brains; in spite of the beauty of her romantic scenes, there is a refreshing sharpness about her performance." Another critic wrote, "It is doubtful if anyone could have done more with the role of Bardelys than Gilbert....That man continues to be a fine actor." Gilbert himself dismissed the film, calling it "Applesauce. With one John Gilbert contributing most of the sauce." Bardelys was the final film for the Gilbert-Vidor team. Vidor went on to direct one of his most esteemed silents, The Crowd (1928), and had a long career in talking films. Gilbert followed Bardelys with Flesh and the Devil (1927) co-starring Greta Garbo, and the two became the screen's hottest love team. Gilbert's career declined with the coming of talkies. For decades, Bardelys the Magnificent was presumed lost. The one tantalizing glimpse of the film was in Vidor's spoof of movie stardom, Show People (1928), when Marion Davies's movie-mad character watches it in a theater and swoons over the willows love scene. But in 2006, a nearly complete print was found in France. Bardelys was restored, using production stills and footage from a film trailer to fill in the missing section. Director: King Vidor Screenplay: Dorothy Farnum, based on the novel by Rafael Sabatini Cinematography: William H. Daniels Editor: Conrad Nervig Costume Design: André-Ani Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons Principal Cast: John Gilbert (Bardelys), Eleanor Boardman, (Roxalanne de Lavedan), Roy D'Arcy (Chatellerault), Lionel Belmore (Vicomte de Lavedan), Emily Fitzroy (Vicomtesse de Lavedan), George K. Arthur (Chevalier de St. Eustache), Arthur Lubin (King Louis XIII), Theodore von Eltz (Lesperon), Karl Dane (Rodenard), Edward Connelly (Cardinal Richelieu), Fred Malatesta (Castelroux), John T. Murray (LaFosse) BW-90m.

Bardelys the Magnificent & Monte Cristo - John Gilbert in Two Lost Silent Films on DVD - BARDELYS THE MAGNIFCENT & MONTE CRISTO


Flicker Alley comes forward with another impressive restoration from the Paris-based Lobster Films. Destroyed in 1936 to fulfill a licensing contract, director King Vidor's 1926 costume swashbuckler Bardelys the Magnificent was considered lost until 2006, when it turned up in a private collection. Oddly enough, although Bardelys had long since been forgotten, one of its romantic scenes remained famous: Vidor featured an excerpt from it in his 1928 comedy Show People.

The adaptation of Rafael Sabatini's story never takes itself too seriously, thanks to John Gilbert's spirited performance. The silent film lover shows himself an excellent comic actor as well as a satisfactory action star, every bit as dashing as his fellow matinee idols John Barrymore and Douglas Fairbanks. Friend to the king and lover to most of the beauties of Paris, Bardelys (Gilbert) becomes ensnared in a bet with the villainous Chatellerault (Roy D'Arcy) that he can marry the beautiful but unapproachable Roxalanne de Lavedan (Eleanor Boardman) in three months time. Defying the king's order to remain in Paris, Bardelys assumes the identity of a slain duelist named Lesperon, not realizing that Lesperon is part of a rebel alliance against the crown. Roxalanne and Bardelys fall deeply in love, but his false identity and Chatellerault's scheming make their romance impossible. Can Roxalanne forgive Bardelys' deception?

Gilbert lights up the screen as a carefree womanizer turned all-around hero. Bardelys hides from Roxalanne's father right in her bedchamber and makes his competitors look like fools. Soon to become King Vidor's wife, the clear-eyed Eleanor Boardman captures a virtuous quality that makes her irresistible. Roy D'Arcy is perhaps the best swashbuckling villain ever, a knave wearing a perpetual sneer on his face. When Bardelys is mistaken for the rebel Lesperon and sentenced to hang for treason, Chatellerault refuses to exonerate him. They just don't make rotten apples like that any more.

Bardelys the Magnificent is a handsome production with excellent costumes and large sets augmented by expert glass paintings. Besides the frequent swordplay, Gilbert pulls off an amusing Douglas Fairbanks-like escape that involves swinging between castle turrets and vaulting (in slow-motion) over a line of charging spear-carriers. Good angles show Bardelys in close-up, dangling high over the crowd below.

King Vidor alternated undemanding silent film assignments with artistic triumphs like The Big Parade and The Crowd. But an impressive slow boat ride through a grove of willow trees is a scene to be proud of. Cameraman William Daniels induces a dreamy mood as the hanging willow branches drift by, brushing lightly over the actors and the camera lens. Vidor's trick shot strikes the perfect romantic note.

The restorers of Bardelys the Magnificent report that the rediscovered print was in poor shape; if that's true the digital work to revive it has made a big difference. The images are sharp and steady with very little evidence of damage. The print is missing reel 3, but the absent passages have been reconstructed with shots liberated from the film's trailer, excellent scene stills and a studio continuity script. The patch job is quite satisfactory. Lobster Films' restoration adds to King Vidor's filmography and gives John Gilbert's reputation a big boost.

Bardelys is provided with two music tracks, one from the Mount Alto Motion Picture Orchestra and a second piano track by Antonia Coppola.

Also on the two-disc set is a 1922 version of the Alexander Dumas classic The Count of Monte Cristo titled simply Monte Cristo. John Gilbert is much less experienced here yet does quite well as a wronged sailor turned noble avenger. The adapted story came from a stage play version yet retains most of the novel's exciting intrigues, wild coincidences and ironic twists. Falsely betrayed as a traitor by men jealous of his betrothal to the beautiful Marseilles fisher-girl Mercedes (Estelle Taylor), Edmond Dantes (Gilbert) spends twenty years in the dungeon of the Chateau d'if. Mercedes marries one of Edmond's betrayers, all three of whom take new names and relocate to successful lives in Paris. But Edmond eventually escapes with the aid of a fellow prisoner, an abbot who gives him a secret map to a fabulous hidden treasure. Reappearing as the mysterious Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond embarks on an elaborate deception to bring down his enemies.

Monte Cristo is divided into neat halves; at the midpoint Edmond Dantes becomes a Judex - like avenger. The abbot's treasure funds a variety of revenge strategies. Dantes uses Mercedes' illegitimate son as a pawn to get back at the corrupt judge who sentenced him to the dungeon. Edmond buys up the bad debts of the rival who denounced him as a traitor, just for carrying a letter for the deposed Napoleon Bonaparte. Politically, Monte Cristo seems to be saying that post-Napoleon France is decadent and corrupt, and needs to be overthrown.

Dumas' strong story keeps interest high even if director Emmet J. Flynn offers few memorable scenes. Modest inns and dungeon cells seem rather too spacious. Overall, Edmond's various male enemies make better impressions than Estelle Taylor's leading lady. In a small part as the innocent daughter of one of the villains is Renée Adorée, who would soon co-star with John Gilbert in King Vidor's The Big Parade.

The print of Monte Cristo shows more damage than its co-feature, yet is intact and nicely transferred. Neal Kurz provides a lively piano score. Both features are accompanied by still and artwork galleries, and Monte Cristo reproduces John Gilbert's contract with the Fox film company. The extras on Bardelys the Magnificent, produced by film biographers Jeffrey Vance and Tony Maietta, include a commentary and an insert booklet essay, as well as a half-hour interview piece with John Gilbert's daughter, Leatrice (Joy) Gilbert Fountain. Ms. Fountain's childhood memories of her famous father are very touching. Vance and Maietta make a strong case for the redemption of John Gilbert's reputation, citing claims that a bitter Louis B. Mayer purposely sabotaged the recording of the actor's voice on his first talking pictures.

To order Bardelys The Magnificent/Monte Cristo, click here. Explore more King Vidor titles here.

by Glenn Erickson

Bardelys the Magnificent & Monte Cristo - John Gilbert in Two Lost Silent Films on DVD - BARDELYS THE MAGNIFCENT & MONTE CRISTO

Flicker Alley comes forward with another impressive restoration from the Paris-based Lobster Films. Destroyed in 1936 to fulfill a licensing contract, director King Vidor's 1926 costume swashbuckler Bardelys the Magnificent was considered lost until 2006, when it turned up in a private collection. Oddly enough, although Bardelys had long since been forgotten, one of its romantic scenes remained famous: Vidor featured an excerpt from it in his 1928 comedy Show People. The adaptation of Rafael Sabatini's story never takes itself too seriously, thanks to John Gilbert's spirited performance. The silent film lover shows himself an excellent comic actor as well as a satisfactory action star, every bit as dashing as his fellow matinee idols John Barrymore and Douglas Fairbanks. Friend to the king and lover to most of the beauties of Paris, Bardelys (Gilbert) becomes ensnared in a bet with the villainous Chatellerault (Roy D'Arcy) that he can marry the beautiful but unapproachable Roxalanne de Lavedan (Eleanor Boardman) in three months time. Defying the king's order to remain in Paris, Bardelys assumes the identity of a slain duelist named Lesperon, not realizing that Lesperon is part of a rebel alliance against the crown. Roxalanne and Bardelys fall deeply in love, but his false identity and Chatellerault's scheming make their romance impossible. Can Roxalanne forgive Bardelys' deception? Gilbert lights up the screen as a carefree womanizer turned all-around hero. Bardelys hides from Roxalanne's father right in her bedchamber and makes his competitors look like fools. Soon to become King Vidor's wife, the clear-eyed Eleanor Boardman captures a virtuous quality that makes her irresistible. Roy D'Arcy is perhaps the best swashbuckling villain ever, a knave wearing a perpetual sneer on his face. When Bardelys is mistaken for the rebel Lesperon and sentenced to hang for treason, Chatellerault refuses to exonerate him. They just don't make rotten apples like that any more. Bardelys the Magnificent is a handsome production with excellent costumes and large sets augmented by expert glass paintings. Besides the frequent swordplay, Gilbert pulls off an amusing Douglas Fairbanks-like escape that involves swinging between castle turrets and vaulting (in slow-motion) over a line of charging spear-carriers. Good angles show Bardelys in close-up, dangling high over the crowd below. King Vidor alternated undemanding silent film assignments with artistic triumphs like The Big Parade and The Crowd. But an impressive slow boat ride through a grove of willow trees is a scene to be proud of. Cameraman William Daniels induces a dreamy mood as the hanging willow branches drift by, brushing lightly over the actors and the camera lens. Vidor's trick shot strikes the perfect romantic note. The restorers of Bardelys the Magnificent report that the rediscovered print was in poor shape; if that's true the digital work to revive it has made a big difference. The images are sharp and steady with very little evidence of damage. The print is missing reel 3, but the absent passages have been reconstructed with shots liberated from the film's trailer, excellent scene stills and a studio continuity script. The patch job is quite satisfactory. Lobster Films' restoration adds to King Vidor's filmography and gives John Gilbert's reputation a big boost. Bardelys is provided with two music tracks, one from the Mount Alto Motion Picture Orchestra and a second piano track by Antonia Coppola. Also on the two-disc set is a 1922 version of the Alexander Dumas classic The Count of Monte Cristo titled simply Monte Cristo. John Gilbert is much less experienced here yet does quite well as a wronged sailor turned noble avenger. The adapted story came from a stage play version yet retains most of the novel's exciting intrigues, wild coincidences and ironic twists. Falsely betrayed as a traitor by men jealous of his betrothal to the beautiful Marseilles fisher-girl Mercedes (Estelle Taylor), Edmond Dantes (Gilbert) spends twenty years in the dungeon of the Chateau d'if. Mercedes marries one of Edmond's betrayers, all three of whom take new names and relocate to successful lives in Paris. But Edmond eventually escapes with the aid of a fellow prisoner, an abbot who gives him a secret map to a fabulous hidden treasure. Reappearing as the mysterious Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond embarks on an elaborate deception to bring down his enemies. Monte Cristo is divided into neat halves; at the midpoint Edmond Dantes becomes a Judex - like avenger. The abbot's treasure funds a variety of revenge strategies. Dantes uses Mercedes' illegitimate son as a pawn to get back at the corrupt judge who sentenced him to the dungeon. Edmond buys up the bad debts of the rival who denounced him as a traitor, just for carrying a letter for the deposed Napoleon Bonaparte. Politically, Monte Cristo seems to be saying that post-Napoleon France is decadent and corrupt, and needs to be overthrown. Dumas' strong story keeps interest high even if director Emmet J. Flynn offers few memorable scenes. Modest inns and dungeon cells seem rather too spacious. Overall, Edmond's various male enemies make better impressions than Estelle Taylor's leading lady. In a small part as the innocent daughter of one of the villains is Renée Adorée, who would soon co-star with John Gilbert in King Vidor's The Big Parade. The print of Monte Cristo shows more damage than its co-feature, yet is intact and nicely transferred. Neal Kurz provides a lively piano score. Both features are accompanied by still and artwork galleries, and Monte Cristo reproduces John Gilbert's contract with the Fox film company. The extras on Bardelys the Magnificent, produced by film biographers Jeffrey Vance and Tony Maietta, include a commentary and an insert booklet essay, as well as a half-hour interview piece with John Gilbert's daughter, Leatrice (Joy) Gilbert Fountain. Ms. Fountain's childhood memories of her famous father are very touching. Vance and Maietta make a strong case for the redemption of John Gilbert's reputation, citing claims that a bitter Louis B. Mayer purposely sabotaged the recording of the actor's voice on his first talking pictures. To order Bardelys The Magnificent/Monte Cristo, click here. Explore more King Vidor titles here. by Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Trivia

The only footage known to exist (outside of its trailer) of this film appears in the Marion Davies film Show People (1928).

'John Wayne' 's debut.