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The Dove (1928)

The Dove (1927) Norma Talmadge Productions/United Artists. Produced by Joseph M. Schenck. Directed by Roland West. Continuity by Wallace Smith, Paul Bern. Titles by Wallace Smith. Adaptation by Roland West, Wallace Smith, Willard Mack. Photography by Oliver Marsh. Art direction by William Cameron Menzies. Edited by Hal Kern. Cast: Norma Talmadge, Noah Beery, Gilbert Roland, Eddie Borden, Harry Myers, Michael Vavitch, Brinsley Shaw, Kalla Pasha, Charles Darvas, Michael Dark, Walter Daniels. 9 (?) reels. A copy of reels 1, the beginning of reel 2, 3, 4, and 8 (or more likely 7) (35 mm.) is located at the Library of Congress, and Cinemateket-Svenska Filminstitutet has a reel of censored material. Laurence Austin once showed a 16 mm. print from a severely deteriorated original, which was reported to be among the items in the recent David Packard purchase (not yet confirmed). It was recently reported to me that it was the final scenes of that which were the most severely affected. Douris Corporation has 8 35mm reels of fine grain (and negative) but the film seems to be complete. Reel 7 corresponds exactly to the reel LC calls Reel 8. Reels 2 and 8 are in quite bad condition, very light and blurry from decomp. This matches the description of the print that Austin showed, so perhaps it was printed from the Douris copy.

These publicity pictures of Norma in costume for The Dove come courtesy of Cleo in Luxembourg. Click on thumbnails for larger views
Things don't seem to be going well for Norma Portrait of Norma Talmadge in costume for The Dove

Portrait of Norma Talmadge in costome for The dove A posed shot in costume, looking as though she's had a hard day

A saucy portrait from the film. Portrait of Norma Talmadge in costume for The Dove

Still photos from this film on Silent Ladies

Picture 1                      Picture 2                      Picture 3

See also a Lantern Slide advertising this film from the collection at the Cleveland Public Library

Review in Motion Picture Magazine on Silents are Golden
Comments in P.S. Harrison's Flops and Hits (1928) at the Silent Film Bookshelf

Variety review
Viewing comments

Review from Variety, January 11, 1928


United Artist's production and release. Starring Norma Talmadge. Features Noah Beery and Gilbert Roland. Adapted from Willard Mack's play of same name. Directed by Roland West. Oliver Marsh, photographer. Titles by Wallace Smith. At Rialto, New York, for a grind run, commencing Dec. 21. Running time, 90 min.

Dolores Norma Talmadge
Don Jose Sandoval Noah Beery
Johnny Powell Gilbert Roland
Billy Eddie Borden
Gomez Michael Vavitch

"The Dove" ain't what she used to be. That goes in the face of the production, cast and glass work United Artists gave it in the screen version of this melodrama. Not only that, but Dolores, alias the Dove, is no longer the toast of a Mexican dancehall. She's not even in Mexico. To get away from the foreign government squawks the locale is now Costa Roja, "somewhere on the Mediterranean coast."

However, Dolores (Norma Talmadge) is still the toast of "the best damn caballero" and speaks broken-English titles. That's the main trouble with the picture, she does little else.

Noah Beery, as the egotistical and pursuing "heavy," steals the honors. Okay for Beery, but not the box office. Few villainous assignments and the men playing them have been able to hold up first line product. Yet, Beery's replica of Holbrook Blinn's work in the stage role is not to be confused with his performance in "Beau Geste." That being the case, the efforts of Miss Talmadge and Gilbert Roland are less by perspective. Houses with a stage presentation, news weekly, overture and shorts will chop from the 90 minutes the feature is allowed here.

The story keeps very close to the play, a synopsis of which includes Don Jose as the country's bad man, who is after Dolores and applies the pressure when Johnny Powell (Mr. Roland) gets himself in a jam over a shooting affray. Dolores promises she will give all to save her sweetheart.

A double escape and capture ends in Powell up against a wall in front of a firing squad. But just before triggers are pressed, Dolores scoffs at her nemesis, ridicules him for his "best damn caballero" claim, piques his ego and to uphold his boast before his people he sets the couple free.

"The Dove" doesn't threaten to get under the skin and hasn't the dramatic intensity of the play. It's spasmodically slow. Roland doesn't look like a gambling dice player and must have realized it, according to the results.

Miss Talmadge continues fair of face and form but doesn't seem to have been trying, possibly the outcome of having no high voltaged moments. Under suppressed emotion Miss Talmadge is not as impressive as when turning on the works. In this instance, anyway.

Marsh's camera work is a predominate feature throughout. Although how anybody is going to mistake the exteriors as being laid in any other spot than Mexico is something for the boys to figure out when the "squaring" commences. Mountainous sets, closely resembling some of the backgrounds in "The Gaucho," are well camaraed and reveal excellent care in glass technique. Too much traveling by the camera is an eye strain.

Summed up, the picture is Beery, camera work and production. Add to that the Talmadge drawing power and it figures to stand up as a program leader. But "The Dove" isn't a reason for scrapping stage presentation.


Viewing comments

Notes from August 2, 2006. On reviewing my 1998 handwritten notes on the LOC print of this film, i was struck by how irritating i found the intertitles. The single reel of censorship outtakes in the Svenska Filminstitutet thankfully has Swedish intertitles, and the film is somewhat less annoying than in English. The reel consists of scenes which the Swedish censors found objectionable, which include scenes of gratuitous violence--and gratuitous mugging by Noah Beery. Odd that those were found censorable, but frankly i'd be happy to have fewer of them in the finished film. Scenes included a woman buying poison, a man being shot in a store, a man being executed, Norma attempting to take poison, the cafe owner telling Norma to be nice to rich man, and a short shot of her and Gilbert Roland kissing when he is threatened with execution. There is also a somewhat lengthy sequence of a party given by Beery at a cabaret that is not in the LOC print--i suspect this was in reel 2. One of the cabaret girls appears to be Anna May Wong in an unbilled appearance.
Print viewed: One 35mm reel of censored material, Cinemateket-Svenska Filminstitutet

Notes from 1998. Finally free of her First National contract, Talmadge now joined Schenck at United Artists, and their first release was The Dove. Despite its very flashy photography and art direction, it is a disappointing serio-comic venture with excruciating broken English intertitles so gratuitously racist that the Mexican government threatened to boycott U.A., thus forcing them to thinly disguise the locale as noted in the review above. Talmadge looks sensational, but only comes to life when Gilbert Roland is onscreen, abandoning the rest of the picture to the grotesque grimacing of Noah Beery as the self-proclaimed "best damn caballero." A very irritating and unsatisfactory film.
Print viewed: 35mm reels of 1,3,4, and 8 (or 7) from the Library of Congress. .

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Last revised, July 6, 2011