Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Director John Ford made his talking-picture debut with the 3-reel (32-minute) Fox "featurette" Napoleon's Barber. Faithfully adapted from a vaudeville sketch by Arthur Caesar, the film is little more than a shaggy-dog story about an anarchistic French barber (Frank Reicher) who regales his customers with stories of his deep-abiding hatred for Emperor Napoleon (Otto Mattiesen). After telling his latest patron of the horrible fate that awaits Napoleon should the emperor ever enter the barbershop, our hero is somewhat taken aback to discover that he's been shaving "the Little Corporal" himself! Napoleon's Barber was used to test the efficiency of the Fox Movietone system in "exterior" dialogue sequences, a test which the equipment passed with flying colors. The sound recording was less effective during the interior scenes, moving one critic to remark that the characters' voices seemed to be emanating from their vest pockets. The film was the first in a series of Movietone short subjects which were ballyhooed by Fox as "feature films in themselves"; the series came to an ignominious end in 1929 with a group of poorly received Clark and McCullough comedies.