IMDb user comments
Both this original and the Wellman remake are marvellous Golden Age films – it’s difficult to compare silents with talkies, or either to the book. In the book you use your imagination, this 1926 original had a cast of thousands, ’39 was a populist version with identical screenplay, full orchestra and name changes, ’66 only had 2 brothers and muzak, whilst if made today would probably have nothing real in it at all.
Three English brothers – Ronald Colman, Ralph Forbes and Neil Hamilton – join the French Foreign Legion to escape one of them being accused of stealing a large diamond. They find a hard life awaiting them, coming from the hordes of seething Arabs but more especially their own intense Sergeant Lejaune (Noah Beery). The greasy rat Boldini as played by William Powell jarred a little, but only because you know how urbane he really was in retrospect, while you can almost hear Colman uttering his lines in his own inimitable way. The acting was believable, the direction appeared faultless and generally production values were Paramount-high.
Although I’ve seen the ’39 film many more times I’m finding every time I watch this one (definitely unremastered too) it grows on me more and more, so heartily recommend it as the next best thing to Wren’s novel.
Language(s):Silent with Italian intertitles