Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Fra Diavolo is based on the 1830 comic opera by Daniel Auber. Tino Pattiera plays the title character, based on a real-life Italian bandit who disguised himself as a Marquis to divest the wealthy and famous of their valuables undetected. The original Eugene Scribe libretto has been altered several times over the past 170 years, depending on the political mood of the times: in this version, Diavolo is no mere outlaw but the Robin Hood-like leader of a band of revolutionaries, bent on toppling the rotting royalty. He disguises himself as a royal ambassador, intercepts an important message from the King, and successfully mounts his revolution, with his sweetheart Anita (Madeleine Breville) at his side. Surprisingly, this Fra Diavolo is far less faithful to its source to the more famous Hollywood version of 1933, which starred Laurel and Hardy and Dennis King and was released in most areas as The Devil's Brother.