Thursday, May 04, 2006


Like DAYBREAK (see below), another Jacques Feyder romantic drama with Ramon Novarro as an exotic romancer. In this one, set in India, he's Karim, a young man traveling to Bombay with his father, an entourage, and some valuable jewels. Novarro sees a holy man meditating at the edge of a cliff and, thinking he's in danger of falling, grabs him to save his life. The holy man explains he was not in danger, but he still expesses gratitude to the lad, tells him that gratitude is the highest command, and says that their paths will cross again. Sure enough, when a gang of bandits ambush the travelers, the holy man reappears and saves Novarro's life by hiding him. Unfortunately, Novarro's father is killed, and the bandits get everything except one incredibly valuable diamond. Once in Bombay, the grimy and destitute Novarro tries to sell the gem, only to have the jewel dealer try to cheat him out of it by claiming that Novarro stole the diamond from him. A British man (Conrad Nagel) who witnessed the transaction shows up just in the nick of time and Novarro is freed. Remembering the words of the holy man, he declares himself forever in Nagel's debt. The story skips ahead many years as Novarro, now the wealthiest merchant in India, meets up with visiting Brit Madge Evans at a polo game. They are smitten with each other and, despite the protestations of her guardian (Marjorie Rambeau), she sneaks off with him on an illicit jungle trip. The aunt calls her brother in to deal with the situation, and of course he turns out to be Nagel, the man who whom Novarro remains in debt. Unlike DAYBREAK, the ending to this one is not so happy, though the sad outcome is redeemed somewhat by the return of the holy man who tells Novarro that earthly passions destroy love and the two are better off separated. Once again, Novarro makes an interesting "exotic other" romantic lead, and Feyder directs rather blandly. Also with C. Aubrey Smith and, in a tiny bit, Ray Milland. [TCM]

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