Mare Nostrum (1926)

Genres - Drama, Spy Film  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama, War Spy Film  |   Countries - USA  |  
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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.

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Keywords

secret-mission, captain [military], death-penalty, espionage, German [nationality]