DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
YOUNG RAJAH, THE (director: Philip Rosen; screenwriters: June Mathis/from the novel Amos Judd by John Ames Mitchell/from the play Amos Judd  by Alethan Luce; cinematographer: James Van Trees; cast: Rudolph Valentino (Amos Judd), Wanda Hawley (Molly Cabot), Edward Jobson (John Cabot), Pat Moore (Amos as child), Charles Ogle (Joshua Judd), Spottiswoode Aitken (Caleb Judd), Fanny Midgley (Sarah Judd), Robert Ober (Horace Bennett), William Boyd (Stephen Van Kovert), Maude Wayne (Miss Elsie Van Kovert) Jack Giddings (Slade), Bertram Grassby (Maharajah Ali Kahn), J. Farrell MacDonald (Tehjunder Roy), Josef Swickard (Narada); Runtime: 60; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jesse L. Lasky; Paramount Pictures; 1922-silent)

 
"Valentino not asked to do much but grit his teeth and look determined."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This was a lost film until a few years ago when a fragmentary 16mm print of the film was discovered in a European archive. Jeffery Jon Masino of Flicker Alley in cooperation with the Library of Moving Images Collection and Turner Classic Movies has reconstructed the film the best he could, as only the last third of it was still intact. He was able to put the rediscovered print back together using two different theatrical preview trailers, still photographs and other historic records. 

The story is about a baby rajah in India, believed to be descended from Arjuna, the mortal brother of the Hindu god Krishna, who is in grave danger when a despotic usurper (Bertram Grassby) of his father's throne threatens to kill the entire family. An American businessman friend of the Hindu family, Joshua Judd, to ensure the true heir's safety mails him to his brother Caleb (Spottiswoode Aitken) and sister-in-law Sarah (Fanny Midgley) in Connecticut with a note informing them that he is heir to a throne and that they should take care of him. They adopt him and change the olive-skinned boy's name to Amos Judd. He grows up to be an all-American boy and is studying at Harvard, where he's a popular student and the star of the rowing team. After winning the rowing race with Yale, a few bitter Harvard students taunt him for his wealth. One of the students named Slade (Jack Giddings) is resentful that Amos replaced him on the team and goes after him with a chair, but Amos has a premonition and sidesteps him and Slade falls to his death through the building window. At a re-incarnation themed costume party thrown by Long Island socialites, the brother Stephen Van Kovert (William Boyd) and sister Elsie Van Kovert (Maude Wayne), Amos falls in love with Judge Cabot's pretty daughter Molly (Wanda Hawley). She's engaged to Slade's mean-spirited friend Horace Bennett (Robert Ober), who bad mouths Amos as a murderer. While learning Molly is his Connecticut neighbor, Amos courts her and learns for sure that he has the psychic ability to see into the future (inherited from his royal family). Word of Slade's accidental death reaches the newspapers in India, and the usurper sends assassins to America to get rid of Amos. When Amos visualizes his death the day before he's set to marry Molly, the judge has him stay at his friend's sanatorium for protection. But spies tell certain Hindus where he is, and they turn out to be his father's people who insist it's his duty to return to India and take back the throne from the tyrant. This time the young rajah envisions a Hindu wedding with Molly as his bride.

The melodrama was just so-so, with Valentino not asked to do much but grit his teeth and look determined. Using eastern motifs, the film is drenched with a kitschy exotic flavor and is mildly interesting for its campy impressions of the Hindu religion and watching Valentino take away his enemy's sweetheart.

Director Phil Rosen ("Abraham Lincoln"/"Wings Over the Pacific") had a good run making B-films in Hollywood with a career stretching out over thirty years. The Young Rajah is based on the novel by Amos Judd and the play by John Ames Mitchell.

REVIEWED ON 5/31/2006        GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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