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The Green Goddess (1930)

The Green Goddess (1930) Warner Brothers Pictures. Director: Alfred Green. Screenplay-Dialogue-Titles: Julien Josephson. Photography: James Van Trees. Editor: James Gribbon. Recording engineer: Joseph Kane. Cast: George Arliss, H.B. Warner, Alice Joyce, Ralph Forbes, David Tearle, Reginald Sheffield, Nigel De Brulier, Betty Boyd, Ivan Simpson. 7 reels, 6,653 ft. (Also released as a silent)

Copies of this film reside at the Library of Congress (35mm), University of Wisconsin (16mm), and it has aired on Turner Classic Movies. This is a remake of the 1923 film, which also starred Arliss and Joyce.

Still photo from The Green Goddess, George Arliss and Alice Joyce The Rajah of Rukh makes his intentions clear. Thanks to Derek Boothroyd for these pictures
Click thumbnails for larger images.
Still photo from The Green Goddess, George Arliss and Alice Joyce
Still photo from The Green Goddess, George Arliss and Alice Joyce Still photo from The Green Goddess, Ralph Forbes and Alice Joyce

Review from Variety
Viewing Comments

Review from Variety, February 19, 1930


Warner Brothers' production and release, starring George Arliss. Adapted by Julian Josephson from the play of the same name by William Archer. Directed by Alfred E. Green. Cameraman, James Van Tries. Opening, Feb. 13 at the Winter Garden, N.Y. for $2 engagement, Running time, 80 minutes.

The Rajah George Arliss
Major Crespin H.B. Warner
Lucilla Crespin Alice Joyce
Dr. Traherne Ralph Forbes
High Temple Priest David Tearle
Lieut. Cardew Reginald Sheffield
Hermit Priest Nigel de Brulier
Ayah Betty Boyd
Hawkins Ivan Simpson

Remade from its silent version (Goldwyn-Cosmopolitan), released in '23, and completed before "Disraeli," but wisely held back, this George Arliss picture, while very interesting, will be something of a disappointment. It is nice program fare, of course, with the prestige of "Disraeli" to help it along for nice grosses.

That it is not a distinguished effort is no fault of the star, for Arliss is every consecutive inch an actor. Rather it is due to the blood-curdling plot. On the stage, as a rather tongue-in-cheek melodrama by the literary William Archier, it was smart. Brought to the screen it unfortunately suggests too many synthetic thrillers that have gone before.

"Black Watch" and "Wheel of Life," to mention but two recent releases, were similar in locale, the danger-infested Himalayan mountains of India. "Goddess" is more plausible, more exciting, more intelligent than most, and easily the best of the rajah series, but the stigma of familiarity and similarity sticks.

H. B. Warner, Alice Joyce, and Ralph Forbes combine with Arliss to give the picture a strong marquee and exploitation argument. Ivan Simpson, as an English rogue servant of the rajah, who played the same part in the play and silent version, seems to have a clear claim to second honors in the acting. Others also entirely competent.

Production, sound recording and photography all first rate.


Viewing comments

Joyce and Arliss teamed up again for the remake of their earlier hit. They play the roles pretty much as before but with the addition of dialog, which is a definite plus in the case of Arliss--both because of his expert voice and delivery, but also because they are very funny lines. Joyce's voice neither adds not detracts from her success in the role, and its refined and ladylike quality suits the character. While the dialog is a plus, the film does looked like a canned play, and is not as cinematically interesting as the earlier version.
Print viewed: Broadcast on Turner Classic Movies.

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Last revised December 23, 2008