The Valiant (1929)

After killing an unknown man for an unknown reason, a mysterious drifter turns himself to the law, under a false name intending to protect his own family’s honor. But when the news of his conviction breaks, the drifter’s sister and mother seeks the possibility that the man is her long lost brother.

Director: William K. Howard.
Stars: Paul Muni, Johnny Mack Brown, Marguerite Churchill, Don Terry, DeWitt Jennings, Henry Kolker, Edith Yorke, Richard Carlyle, Henry Kolker.

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One Comment

  1. November 1, 2018
    Reply

    Thanks Jon for a chance to see this, Paul Muni’s first film work. It is a bit dated and plays like the original play it cames from. Stilted, thick florin dialogue, stiff performance & an utterly predictable narrative. But all that is beside the point: given some of the toughest dialogue to make work, Muni’s stagecraft & instincts are incredibly sharp. Hs any other early talking actor ever been more expressive with his eyes even as his face is a mask behind which his character must hide? Has any actor ever been so still when listening to others. The film is an average melodrama until the second half when Muni gets to dominate the scenes. You understand perfectly what is happening & what is going to happen, yet when that moment comes, you catch yourself holding your breathe bc you are moved by the actor’s depth of performance. Muni shifts from stotic bravery to abject fear with a casting of the sight line of his eyes. Even old & vintage, a memorable debut for one of America’s best actors.

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