Richelieu (1914)

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While most of Vitagraph's biographical films were released as multiple-parters, Richelieu told its entire story within the confines of a single, 1000-foot reel. The controversial Cardinal was depicted as a semi-villain, though his good points were duly emphasized. If contemporary reviews are to be believed, the costumes and settings of the film were quite convincing, and far better than most "historicals" of the era. The trade magazine Variety opined that, if Vitagraph would stick to films of this nature and avoid cheap comedies and contemporary melodramas, the studio would remain in business forever. Incidentally, Vitagraph was eventually absorbed by Warner Bros., whose early-talkie "prestige" star George Arliss starred in the 1935 production Cardinal Richelieu (which was filmed by 20th Century Pictures).