Two Arabian Knights - Strring Mary Astor

Two Arabian Knights - 1927

Two Arabian Knights - 1927

Two Arabian Knights - Released Sept 23, 1927. Dir. Lewis Milestone

Is the term "rollicking adventure story" out of vogue? Because that's what this 1927 silent film is, with two American doughboys (William Boyd and Louis Wolheim) in a World War I German POW camp, finally escaping, getting mistaken for Arabs and being shipped to Turkey where they get embroiled in saving a young native woman (Mary Astor) from a forced marriage.

Of course Turks aren't Arabs or visa versa, and how these two Americans could be mistaken for Arabs doesn't make a lot of sense, regardless that they're wrapped up in long white terry cloth shower robes and accidentally get into line with kandoora robe-dressed Arab prisoners. Somehow that fools the movie's Germans and that combined with some fast moves gets the two heroes out of wartime Europe.

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Lewis Milestone keeps the story moving pretty quick. The antagonism (and loyalty) between Wolheim and Boyd's characters who are either busy bickering or saving each others skin makes for a great deal of comedy. When they're finally on the job of saving Mirza (Mary Astor), Milestone tightens the screws on the tension with some clever fighting, running for their lives, and dueling.

There's not a lot of multicultural respect in Two Arabian Knights by the two heroes in a foreign land, nor by the eastern villains towards them, referring to them as "dogs". Wolheim, with his battered nose and bulldog face, and the boyish and smirking Boyd, are perfectly romanticized versions of ideal Americans, one wanted in the states for criminality and the other with a habitual problem with authority, neither daunted by the odds against them, which in "real life" would probably make them idiots, but here it just makes them fearless rescuers.

Mirza might be a veiled Turkish princess, but she's also somehow an American girl in exotic sparkly outfits, quite receptive to the idea of personal freedom, and ready to spirit out of the mess she's in with her double-dealing, sinister suitor who tries to overcome our heroes with tricks versus fighting fair, which turns out to be his last mistake.

Original Page December 2019

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