“I don’t associate with masked men as a rule.”
Dashing Russian Army Lieutenant, Vladimir Dubrovsky (Rudolf Valentino) draws attention from Catherine the Great (Louise Dresser) when he heroically captures one of her favourite horses. Catherine wants to reward him by making him a general, and while that title comes with certain privileges, it also comes with certain obligations. Catherine makes it clear that she has amorous intentions towards her new general, and while she goes to her boudoir to slip into something more comfortable, Dubrovsky escapes to the provinces.
Dubrovksy intends to return to his family estate, but in his absence, it’s been seized by Kyrilla (James Marcus). Meanwhile, Catherine, enraged by the rejection of her latest love-toy, issues a warrant for his arrest and execution.
Dubrovsky dons a mask, and calling himself the Black Eagle, he and a band of loyal followers begin robbing and generally harassing Kyrilla at every opportunity. But then Dubrovsky meets the lovely Mascha (Vilma Banky)–Kyrilla’s only child….
The Eagle directed by Clarence Brown is great entertainment for Valentino fans. The scenes between Dubrovsky and Catherine are wonderful, and while she eyeballs him head to foot, she doesn’t hide her admiration or her insatiable nature. Dubrovsky is depicted as coy and chaste–powerful qualities that no doubt drove his hordes of female fans to distraction, and this simple but entertaining romance works well as a vehicle for Valentino’s role as yet another impossibly dashing romantic hero.
This silent film from 1925 is a decent print marred by a few, thin, black vertical lines. The DVD has no extras, and if you’ve never seen Valentino I also recommend the two-for-one Sheik/Son of the Sheik. These two films show Valentino several years apart and he measurably hones his acting skills for the later film. The Eagle is great fun for Valentino fans, but it’s not his best.