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This Ronald Colman film was his second talkie, following a rousing success in Bulldog Drummond earlier in 1929. For these two films, Colman received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and his work in this one is good. Samuel Goldwyn went through great pains to prepare Colman for talkies and for audiences' expectations of his voice to match his on-screen persona. In this film, Colman plays a suave thief who is sentenced to prison on Devil's Island. Once there, the warden employs him to aid his wife in household chores and there Colman falls in love with the beautiful Ann Harding.
The plot is surprisingly not too ridiculous as both Colman's and Harding's characters really don't want to start an affair out of respect for each other and for the warden (a solid Dudley Digges). However, once the warden buys into local gossip that his wife is having an affair, he cannot help but constantly become angry. Each time the plot has a chance to become silly and over-melodramatic, it takes a step back and seems to have a conscience. For an early talkie, that is impressive. Further more impressive were the many dolly moves employed by the cameraman. This is not too static for such an early sound film and there is good use of sound effects being layed over the montage. All that being said, it is not a great film. It is never fully engrossing as Alibi and Applause were at times, but for a film from the class of 1929 this one is a winner and Colman, Harding, Digges and Louis Wolheim as Colman's convict friend are all excellent.
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