The Eagle

The Eagle

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This post is a part of Russia in Classic Film Blogathon hosted by Movies Silently. Click here to see a list of all participants.

The Eagle is a 1925 silent film starring Rudolph Valentino with Vilma Banky and Louise Dressler.

The movie starts out with the Czarina (Louise Dressler) about to inspect her favorite regiment. Rifles go off at shooting targets and a carriage with horses runs away. Doubrovski (Rudolph Valentino) takes the Czarina’s favorite white horse and chases after the runaway carriage and stops it. He looks inside to see Mascha (Vilma Banky) inside. They exchange a bit of conversation and they leave. When Doubrovski returns the Czarina’s horse she invites him to dinner.

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At dinner you can tell the Czarina is smitten with Doubrovski. She gives him her favorite horse. They have drinks and each one pretends to drink but pours their drink out in a nearby plant when the other is not looking. She kisses him and tells him she has a little surprise for him and disappears into a room. He then leaves. He’s advised not to leave the Czarina. Doubrovski says he enlisted in war service only.

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The Czarina comes back into the room all dressed up and finds Doubrovski has left. She is furious. In the meantime, Doubrovski has received a letter from his father telling him that he entrusted his affairs to a new neighbor, Kyrilla (James Marcus). With the aid of a dishonest judge, Kyrilla tricked him out of everything including all his possessions. His father’s only hope is for Doubrovski to appeal to the Czarina.

The Czarina orders that the deserter Vladimir Doubrovski, lieutenant of the Imperial Guard, be brought in, dead or alive. Doubrovski sees the notice and leaves.

In a remote province, Kyrilla celebrates his fraudulent seizure of the Doubrovski estate. Kyrilla gives a key to his cellar to the judge to go pick out some liquor. Unknown to the judge there is a bear in the cellar. Kyrilla and his party-goers stand at the closed door watching the judge and the bear. Kyrilla receives word that his daughter Mascha has arrived.

Doubrovski arrives at a humble dwelling to find his father dying a broken man. He vows vengeance on Kyrilla and his kin. He starts wearing a black mask and is soon called The Black Eagle. He becomes a sort of Russian Robin Hood. Doubrovski starts sending Kyrilla notes from the Black Eagle.

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Mascha’s carriage is stopped by The Black Eagle’s men. They tell Doubrovski she is Kyrilla’s only daughter. He tells his men he does not make war towards women. He asks her if they’d met before. Her reply is: “I think not. I don’t associate with masked men as a rule.” He offers her his horse but she refuses. She then starts walking away and he follows her on his horse. She then starts running until she is too tired to walk. He gives her his horse and she rides home.

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In the village Doubrovski runs into the French tutor who has been hired by Kyrilla for his daughter. Doubrovski tells him he’d be more than happy to drop him off at the estate as he is going that way. When the carriage arrives Doubrovski comes dressed as the tutor. He has found a way to become part of Kyrilla’s household. As Kyrilla reads the letter of introduction Mascha walks in. She asks Doubrovski if they’d ever met before. He replies, “I think not. I don’t associate with ladies of quality, as a rule.” Doubrovski tells Kyrilla that the Black Eagle has entrusted him with a note to give to him. As he reads the letter fear comes over his face.

Revenge is sweet but sometimes a girl is sweeter. Later that evening at dinner, Doubrovski is enchanted by Mascha. As she’s talking he can’t take his eyes off of her and puts too much pepper in his soup. Another dinner guests tells him, “Too much pepper in the soup means too much fire in the heart. Young man, you’re in love!” As Kyrilla’s soup bowl is being taken away he sees a note that has been left under it. His hands are trembling as he reads another note from the Black Eagle. “Tonight I shall drink a glass of wine to vengeance”.

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Kyrilla sees Doubrovski dancing with Mascha. He tells him that he is happy with his daughter’s progress in French. He tells him he shall have a reward. He takes out a key and tells Doubrovski to go to his cellar and pick out of bottle of his best liquor. As before with the judge, a crowd of people follow the two men to the cellar. Kryilla pushes Doubrovski into the cellar with the bear. Mascha runs to the cellar and goes inside. She’s horrified to see the bear on a chain looking at Doubrovski. She screams! Suddenly the bear turns to Mascha and breaks the chain holding him back. Doubrovski pulls out a gun and shoots the bear. Mascha faints.

While the rest of the castle is asleep…Mascha is suspicious that Doubrovski is the Black Eagle. She walks to his room while he is out and leaves a verse about vengeance on the table. He walks in and she hides in his closet. He notices the verse and flips through the book and underlines a verse about an eye for an eye. He then reaches into his closet for a pistol. Doubrovski sneaks into Kyrilla’s room while he is sleeping dressed as the Black Eagle. He awakens Kyrilla. Kyrilla is scared to death at seeing the Black Eagle who is aiming a pistol at him. Mascha comes into the room holding a pistol and aiming it at the Black Eagle. She tells him to drop his pistol and leave. Just as he exits a window he blows a kiss to her. Kyrilla grabs the gun and goes to shoot the Black Eagle but the gun isn’t loaded. Mascha has a smile on her face. A group of friends staying the night at the castle run up to Kyrilla’s room to see what the commotion is. He tells them the Black Eagle has been there. Someone must stand guard over him for the rest of the evening. In runs Doubrovski pretending nothing has happened. Kyrilla tells the group Doubrovski (still masquerading as the French teacher Monsieur Le Blanc) is the man to guard him. Mascha is against it knowing who he really is. He tells her, “I promise you – The Black Eagle will not harm your father while I’m here.” She hands him her pistol.

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The next morning Mascha walks in and sees Doubrovski with his hands around Kyrilla’s neck. Her father tells her, “Don’t be silly Mascha. He’s massaging my headache away”. It looks like he’s roughing him up a bit. It’s time for Mascha’s French lesson but she’s in no mood because her nerves are on edge. He gently massages her neck to relax her. He asks her, “I wonder what you think of me?” She replies, “I can tell you in three words – I hate you!” She goes into the house crying. He asks her to forgive him. She threatens to call her father’s Cossacks and tell them who he is. She goes to the window and finds a group of people outside. Her father’s men have captured the Black Eagle’s lieutenant prowling around the grounds. The lieutenant refuses to say where the Black Eagle is. Kyrilla then begins to whip him. Doubrovski then steps to the window to proclaim he is the Black Eagle. Mascha screams “No, no”! She tells him, “Are you blind, Vladimir? Day and night I’ve fought against loving you – fought and lost”! They share a few passionate kisses before guard’s beak the door down as they escape through a hidden doorway. As they leave on a horse they are trapped on one side by Kyrilla’s men and the Imperial guard on the other side. An Imperial guard tells Mascha that Doubrovski is the Czarina’s prisoner. The next thing we see is the Czarina signing his death warrant. Kuschka (Albert Conti) begs the Czarina to free Doubrovski.

The Czarina’s prisoner had one last request and it was granted. Doubrovski and Mascha were married by a priest in his cell. Kuschka goes to tell Doubrovski he is to be executed.

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Kuschka tells the Czarina that Doubrovski will be executed by firing squad at 6:00 pm. However, she has a change of heart and doesn’t want him executed. Just then the clock rings out at 6:00 and you see the firing squad shooting. The Czarina is heartbroken over what she’s done. Kuschka asks if she can kindly sign a passport. The passport is for Doubrovski with a new name. Kuschka tells the Czarina that Doubrovski died at six o’clock and this is Monsieur Le Blanc when she signs the passport. She happily signs the passport. The new passport is taken to Doubrovski and Mascha in a waiting carriage. They wave to the Czarina and Kuschka and then their carriage drives them off to a happy ending.

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4 Responses to The Eagle

  1. Thanks so much for joining in! The Eagle is my favorite Valentino film. It’s just so much fun. 🙂

    Like

  2. Le says:

    The Eagle was the first Valentino film I watched, and it was very entertaining (I liked the bear in the palace!). Good review.
    About the Valentino Blogathon: I was supposed to wirte about the 1951 biopic, but can I change to Valentino biopics in general? I found information about many more biopics!
    Don’t forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! 🙂
    Cheers!
    http://www.criticaretro.blogspot.com.br/2015/03/eisenstein-e-sua-trilogia-ivan-o.html

    Like

  3. Joe Thompson says:

    Too bad Valentino never got to play Zorro. This is a good alternative. He sure worked well with Vilma Banky. I enjoyed your thoughts on the movie. Thank you for sharing with all of us.

    Like

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