Friday, January 23, 2009
Directed by: Ernst Lubitsch
Starring: Emil Jannings, Florence Vidor, and Lewis Stone
Plot: An epic portrayal of political intrigue in Russia during the reign of Paul I.
Thoughts: Unfortunately, I can offer no thoughts on this film because I've never seen it. No one else in recent history has seen it either because The Patriot is more or less a lost film. The only parts left are a trailer and one reel (about six minutes of footage) that was found in Portugal back in 2001.
The story is an adaptation of three different plays: Paul I by Dmitri Merezhkovsky, Der Patriot by Alfred Neumann, and The Patriot by Ashley Dukes. Again, since there is no reference available (neither the film nor the plays), I have no idea which parts were lifted from where. Attempting to find detailed information has proven somewhat frustrating.
Based on some notes I found, evidently The Patriot was technically the last silent film nominated for Best Picture. Paramount added music, sound, and limited voices (mainly screams) to the film in post-production without Lubitsch's knowledge. This was done because talking and sound films were the new trend in film at the time. Despite the studios tampering, the finished product was still regarded as one of the best films of 1928.
If you want to see the trailer, it can be found on the More Treasures from the American Film Archives: 1894-1931. The set is a bit pricy, but contains a ton of forgotten film history.
The Patriot took home the Best Writing, Achievement award for Hanns Kraly's epic screenplay. Other nominations earned were Best Actor for Lewis Stone's portrayal of Count Pahlen, Best Art Direction for Hans Dreier (who had previously worked on Wings the previous year), and a Best Director nod for Lubitsch himself.