Madera Tribune, Volume XXXVII, Number 100, 4 March 1926
Lillian Gish in “Romola” tonight
So many motion pictures are made each year that in the grist of a year’s film entertainment a production has to be superlatively good for it to stand out in bold relief. Such a production is “Romola,” Lillian Gish’s latest picture, which opens at the National theatre tonight for a run of two days. “Romola,” a film version of George Eliot’s immortal novel, is in fact a mile-stone of film progress. It surpasses anything heretofore seen in point of beauty. Never before have we seen such gorgeous settings, such use of shadows, such completeness of feeling for old world grandeur, such detail in the working out of art objects.
The inspiration, of course, was present in that the story was laid in the Florence of the Renaissance, but nevertheless the director, Henry King, and his corps of technical experts are deserving of all the praise one can bestow. Just beauty, however, is only one feature of “Romola” it has also great drama and great players to interpret it. What a cast! Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Ronald Colman. William H. Powell, Chas Lane, Herbert Grimwood and a host of others not entirely distinguishable because they are Italian actors with the usual difficult nomenclature. The Gish sisters are together in this picture for the first time since ‘‘Orphans of the Storm,” and again they show that team-work is a fine art in itself.
Lillian, of course, is Romola, and Dorothy appears as Tessa, the little peasant girl who lives so happily until she falls in love with the wicked Tito, and then is swept into tragedy. Both of the girls look more radiantly beautiful than ever before, and it is a delight to see them together again. Ronald Colman, who was the hero in Miss Gish’s “The White Sister,” again demonstrates that he is an actor of fine bearing with a nice repression that is most pleasing, and rather flattering, to the audience.
William H. Powell does the villain role with real suavity, and you rather like him after all; a fascinating performance. The story of Romola is especially adaptable for screen use, and while it might be called a costume picture, the characters are such that you have no trouble keeping their identity in mind, the chief fault with films that are laid in the period of silks and plumes. “Romola” takes place in 1492 and they didn’t wear plumes then to speak of.
4 March 1926