Saturday, February 7, 2009

Disraeli (1929)

Directed by: Alfred E. Green

Starring: George Arliss

Plot: British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli navigates through treachery at home and abroad to purchase the Suez Canal.

Thoughts: As far as biographical films go, this is okay. This is pretty much a vehicle for George Arliss to do his thing, which he does well. Dialogue is written well, but the production just felt a bit flat to me. I can't quite figure out why.

Disraeli is a remake of the 1921 silent film that also starred George Arliss. Benjamin Disraeli was Britain's prime minister from 1874-1880 (and also served in the office in 1868) and has been generally regarded well in the eyes of history. He was, and still is, the only ethnically Jewish prime minister ever to serve in the office.

The film that survives today is from a 1933 version, which is cropped on the left because it had been mastered to incorporate the sound-on-film track. Previously, the soundtrack was played through the old, record-based Vitaphone system. So far, Disraeli has only been released on VHS (back in 1994) and no DVD release is currently planned. Occasionally, it does show up in the Turner Classic Movies schedule rotation.

George Arliss took home a Best Actor award that night. The film was also nominated for Best Writing, Achievement, for Julien Josephson's screenplay.

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