Tempest Film Details
Overview: In Czarist Russia, a peasant officer, resented by the aristocrats, falls in love with a princess.
Review: TEMPEST (United Artists, 1928), presented by Joseph M. Schenck, directed by Sam Taylor, with uncredited work by Lewis Milestone, bears no relation to the William Shakespeare play, but is actually a military love story set against the background of the Russian Revolution in 1914. It stars the legendary “great profile” John Barrymore as Ivan Markov, a peasant soldier who becomes an officer in the Russian Army, after being told by his comrades that no peasant has been commissioned to a higher rank in years. After he and his officers take a swim in the lake with only their uniform trousers on, Sergeant Bubba (Louis Wolheim), Ivan’s closest friend, who has encountered three young girls also bathing on the other side, as a practical joke, steals their clothing. After being told for what he has done, Ivan interferes in Bubba’s meddling and takes the garments to return them to the ladies. As he is doing his good deed, Ivan is confronted by the Princess Tamara (Camilla Horn), who immediately accuses him of stealing the clothes. Quite upset, she suddenly takes Ivan’s whip and beats his naked chest with it. In return, Ivan takes her into his arms and kisses her. Later that evening Ivan encounters Tamara once again at a social function, and learns that she is the daughter of his superior (George Fawcett), who loves Ivan like a son. Ivan and Tamara dance together, with Tamara doing nothing else but insulting him. Afterwards, Ivan then drowns out his sorrows by stocking up on wine in a huge drinking glass and gulping it all down at once. Now drunk, Ivan loses himself and accidentally stumbles upon Tamara’s bedroom where he proceeds to fall asleep on her couch. After being discovered there, Tamara calls for her father and her suitor (Ullrich Haupt), which then puts an end to Ivan’s military career as he is stripped of his uniform and sentenced to serve five years in prison. After the outbreak of the war, the calvary and the other prisoners are ordered to the front, which leaves Ivan behind in solitary confinement, as ordered by Tamara’s suitor. Released by an insane communist peddler (Boris De Fas), Ivan joins forced with him to become an important official while Tamara and her father are no longer aristocrats in high social standing. Now that Ivan is in control, will he treat her as unjustly as he was misjudged by her? TEMPEST, which plays like a proposed project for Rudolph Valentino, who has since died in 1926, offers John Barrymore in one of his finer performances of the silent screen. Camilla Horn, a blonde beauty recently imported from Germany, makes her Hollywood movie debut in this production. Before returning to her native Germany, she was re-teamed one more time with John Barrymore in the silent drama, ETERNAL LOVE (United Artists, 1929). Presented in the supporting cast are Michael Visaroff, Lena Malena and Michael Marke. Louis Wolheim provides his usual comedic moments as Ivan’s loyal friend, while Ullrich Haupt adds to his villainy as Tamara’s jealous suitor. George Fawcett, the familiar face from numerous DW Griffith silents of long ago, gives his usual reliable performance as the Russian general who would later find himself facing a firing squad. And then there is not so well known Boris De Fas, menacing, sinister and gap-toothed who somewhat resembles John Barrymore’s evil side of his other personality from his own version to the 1920 horror film, DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE. This is his only known Hollywood screen role. TEMPEST, with the running time of 104 minutes, was originally released theatrically with a synchronized musical score by Hugo Riesenfeld. It became one of the twelve selected films to appear during the summer months on New York City’s public television Channel 13’s 1975 presentation of “The Silent Years” as hosted by Lillian Gish, accompanied by another excellent piano score by William Perry from the Paul Killian collection. Before its presentation, Gish talks about the beautiful photography by Charles Rosher as well as the lavish sets by William Cameron Menzies. Besides these fine assets, TEMPEST includes several fine dramatic moments by Barrymore: One in which Barrymore’s Ivan becomes very teary-eyed as he is disgraced in front of his regiment, stripped of his uniform with his sword broken in half by a superior, and another in which Ivan, nearly going insane while being left in solitary confinement, surrounded by those high prison walls, only to look up on one of those walls and imagining the face of Tamara looking down at him, but as for John Barrymore’s earlier drunken scene, for him that must have been a natural. Like many silent films distributed around 1928-29, TEMPEST has become underrated and forgotten due to lack of television or any other kind of revival over the years. It was distributed on video cassette in the 1980s through Blackhawk Video and Republic Home Video (Blackhawk’s merger), accompanied by the William Perry piano score used for “The Silent Years” (1975). Distribution on DVD from Image Entertainment contains choices of underscoring: 1)Original 1928 orchestral score and 2) Piano accompaniment by Philip Carli. (***)
Duration: 102 min
Genre: Drama, Romance
Also known as: A Tempestade,La Tempestad,Wetterleuchten,Tempest,Nella tempesta,Tempestad,Vihar,Den röda stormen,Burza,Sturm,Tempestade,Den røde Storm,Буря,Den røde storm,Der Rote Sturm,Tempête,La tempestad,テムペスト（1928）