Arliss is a fine centerpiece for one of the earliest of the Warner Bros. biographies; DISRAELI sets high standards for biopics to come. It marked the film debut of aging George Arliss, and showed America a style of acting it had seen little of in the silent years. Arliss was
stage-trained and able to make the switch from stage to silents and then sound with no difficulty. Rather than attempt a long picture about the Jew who converted to Christianity and was Queen Victoria's closest ally, the film deals with a brief slice of Disraeli's life, focusing on his attempt to
outwit the Russians in the rush to purchase the Suez Canal. Along the way, we get the opportunity to observe his wit, his amours, his geniality, and his brilliance.
Florence Arliss played his screen wife, and their ability to play off each other lent sparkle to both performances. Arliss would come to specialize in historical figures, playing Rothschild, Richelieu, Wellington, Alexander Hamilton, and others. He had played Disraeli in a 1921 silent film first,
but this is the definitive performance.
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