Mare Nostrum

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Having struck box-office gold with his adaptation of the mystical Vincent Blasco-Ibanez novel The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, producer-director Rex Ingram adapted another Ibanez best-seller, Mare Nostrum, as a vehicle for his hauntingly beautiful actress wife Alice Terry. Set during WWI, the film casts Terry as Freya Talberg, a German secret agent. Though she seems to have ice water in her veins (there's even a hint that she prefers the company of women over men), Freya loses her heart to a Spanish sea captain, Ulysses Ferragut (Antonio Moreno). As a result, she is captured and sentenced to be executed, going to her death with a poise and dignity befitting a Joan of Arc. The firing-squad sequence is the film's piece de resistance, brilliantly photographed from the heroine's point of view by ace cinematographer John F. Seitz. Perhaps because virtually all the major characters die at the end, the film was a financial flop, even though its anti-war sentiments were perfectly attuned to the mid-1920s. For many years one of the most highly sought-after "lost" films, Mare Nostrum was restored to a reasonable approximation of its original tinted and toned glory in the late 1970s and has been shown several times over the Turner Classic Movies cable service. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Audience Reviews for Mare Nostrum

  • Jul 29, 2018
    A decent enough film, but it's unlikely to blow you away. Set during WWI, a Spanish sea captain (Antonio Moreno) traveling in Italy meets and falls in love with a young German woman (Alice Terry). One problem is that he's married, and has a young son. Another is that the German woman and her older colleague (Mademoiselle Paquerette) are both spies, and convince him to help the Germany navy out in a way whose ramifications he can't fully appreciate. The film is thus about guilt and paying for the choices one makes in life, and director Rex Ingram pulls no punches. I loved the scenes on location in Naples, Pompeii (with Vesuvius smoking the background), Marseilles, and Barcelona. The scenes with U-boat attacks were tense, and the German officers suitably sinister. It's a little on the melodramatic side, and there are some rather big coincidences to help the plot get to where it's going. Even at 102 minutes, the film is belabored, and elements like the prologue could have been cut. There's something missing to truly recommend it, but on the other hand, it's well made and reasonably entertaining 92 years later.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer

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