THE CAPTIVE (1915, Dir. Cecil B. DeMille)

Olive Films BD $24.95, DVD $19.95
50 min. / B&W / 1.33:1 / Silent with Musical Score

Opening scrawl: "During the recent war between Turkey and the Balkan states, every man of Montenegro who could carry arms was at the front. The Government, realizing the necessity of harvesting the crops, gave Turkish prisoners of war to the women to till the fields."

How's THAT for a pitch? Lovely Blanche Sweet's older brother is off fighting, her lame little brother isn't much help, so she duly signs up for government assistance, and is given big, handsome Turkish aristocrat House Peters. House and li'l brother bond, and that helps thaw Miss Sweet, and a good thing, too: the Turkish army is coming, and so are looters, and... well, you know, the ravages of war.

Per Olive Films, "Cecil B. DeMille’s silent era drama, The Captive, which might have been lost to posterity, was located in the Paramount Pictures vaults and restored (featuring a newly composed score) for future generations to enjoy." And enjoy I did - it's highly likeable, with some appreciated comic bits (one of Blanche's neighbor ladies doesn't even try to hide what she REALLY wants a Turkish prisoner for, and it ain't plowin' the fields, folks). Miss Sweet - a huge star in her day - is quite good, and her determination to keep the new captive in line (she sticks a gun in his face at the slightest provocation, including when he drops a dish while drying after dinner) is a funny running gag.

Olive's presentation is the full 5-reel length from a gorgeous tinted original print, with a lovely, appropriate score by Lucy Duke. This, Olive Films' Wagon Tracks, and the recent Kino release of 3 Bad Men are a wonderful reminder of the power and beauty of silent cinema - and also how much fun it can be, dramatically, as stories unfold in pantomime. Highly recommended.