Sunday, December 09, 2012


Just as British subject Bill Howard is about to complain to the Emir of Kazra about the theft of his camel, the ruler is assassinated by two sheiks who are trying to destabilize the region. Howard finds the Emir's body and is accused of the murder. He escapes, disguised in Bedouin garb, and takes refuge with a British man resting in the marketplace.  Howard talks the man, Richard Fraser, into pretending that Howard is his servant. This gets Howard out of the country, but an international incident develops, and the two sheiks come to England demanding satisfaction, threatening an all-out war in Kazra unless certain economic demands are met. They also plan on bringing a Kazran prince who is being schooled in England back and setting him up as a puppet ruler. As it happens, Richard's twin brother Lorimer is the Foreign Secretary in charge of the talks. Lorimer is a tedious stuffed shirt whose public stance makes the situation worse, so with Howard's help, Richard connives to take Lorimer's place at the talks, hoping to expose the sheiks as assassins.

Despite the seriousness of the plotline, this is basically a comedy with the wonderful George Arliss doing double duty as the twin brothers (both pictured above). As Lorimer, Arliss makes a perfect pompous ass, and as Richard, he gets to do his usual shtick of helping folks out of bad situations and even doing a little matchmaking (between Howard and Lorimer's secretary). Romilly Lunge is blandly handsome as Howard, Rene Ray is sweet and cute as the secretary, and a young, exotic looking fellow named John Ford, in his only screen credit, plays the Kazran prince. Arliss is wonderful as always. If you don’t already know his work, this might be a good place to start if you can find it; it's a public domain movie which doesn't seem to be on video, but I saw it on YouTube.

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