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Thursday, November 11, 2010

THE YANKEE CLIPPER (1927)


Cecil B. De Mille produced, but didn’t direct, this hearty slab of Americana. (C.B. was busy directing Jesus in KING OF KINGS/’27) It’s a genial bit of hooey about the 19th century shipping trade as England & the U.S. vie for the Chinese tea franchise by racing their cargo ships to Boston. The Yankee Captain is William Boyd, long before he was Hop-along Cassidy. He’s quick with the fists, quick with a smile, and in love with his rival’s beautiful daughter. Alas, the girl’s engaged to dastardly John Miljan, a blackguard who’s keeping a secret Chinese mistress! (Miljan's also the best thing in the pic.) Can Boyd stop the wedding? Will that tousled-haired stowaway brat affect the plot? Do the Yankees win the pennant? Well, it’s corny enough for De Mille! The handsome production, splendidly shot by John Mescall, uses real ships on a real sea, except for the typhoon scenes & such, but we don’t get much help from vet megger Rupert Julian whose technique hasn’t kept up with the times. His partial efforts on Lon Chaney’s PHANTOM OF THE OPERA/’25 and his salvage job on von Stroheim’s MERRY-GO-ROUND give him a stature he hardly deserves. Still, the film is modest fun and the print looks swell on a DVD set called UNDER FULL SAIL.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: James Cruze’s OLD IRONSIDES/’26 hits a lot of the same buttons with a great cast and a lot more verve.

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