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Raffles (1917)/Raffles (1925) [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

Raffles
Considering the number of John Barrymore films that have crumbled to dust, it is fortunate indeed that the Barrymore vehicles which have survived are among his best works. One of the earliest Barrymore pictures still extant is Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman, a consistently delightful adaptation of the same-named short stories by E.W. Hornung. "The Great Profile" was in his element as Raffles, the gentleman jewel thief who is the bane of the existence of diligent Scotland Yard inspector Bedford (Frederick Perry). Ostensibly retired, Raffles agrees to one last heist to save his old friend "Bunny" (Frank Morgan) from committing suicide. The action takes place during a weekend party, with the eagle-eyed Bedford awaiting the first opportunity to pounce upon the elusive Raffles. But Bedford has reckoned without the beautiful Gwendolyn (Evelyn Brent), who simultaneously "reforms" Raffles and enables the lovable rogue to escape. Unlike the later adaptations of Raffles starring Ronald Colman and David Niven, the Barrymore version includes a great deal of outdoor action, including the hero's daring dive from a speeding yacht. Featured in the cast as a minor-league safecracker is celebrated baseball star "Turkey" Mike Donlin, reportedly a great pal and boon drinking companion of John Barrymore. The only complaint one could register against Raffles is that it is (by necessity) a silent film, denying viewers the pleasure of hearing as well as seeing the hero match wits against his detective nemesis. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Raffles
On a voyage from India to London, it is rumored that an infamous cracksman is onboard -- of course, it is Raffles (House Peters), who is accompanied by his friend, Bunny Manners (Freeman Wood). Raffles warns one of his fellow passengers to keep an eye on her necklace, which promptly disappears. Although a search reveals no evidence, the necklace is returned in a pack of cigarettes upon arrival in London. Lord and Lady Amersteth (Winter Hall and Kate Lester) are having a house party and Raffles attends. Captain Bedford, a noted criminologist (Fred Esmelton), is also one of the guests and he asserts that a very valuable string of pearls cannot be stolen. This only encourages Raffles, who takes it. He also steals the heart of his hosts' daughter, Gwendolyn (Miss Du Pont). Although Bedford finally captures Raffles, he escapes with Gwendolyn's help and they run off together. Raffles returns the pearls and resolves to start a new and more honest life. E.W. Hornung's celebrated novel about a gentleman thief was filmed several times. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

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