Private Life of Helen of Troy (1927)

Run Time - 87 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Hal Erickson

Setting the standard for his later light-hearted biopics The Private Life of Henry VIII and Rembrandt, producer-director Alexander Korda steadfastly refuses to take any of The Private Life of Helen of Troy seriously. Maria Corda, wife of the director, plays the title character as a fetchingly underdressed coquette, oblivious to all the political turmoil she's causing when she allows the handsome Paris (Ricardo Cortez) to kidnap her. Meanwhile, poor King Menelaus (Lewis Stone), Helen's husband, stands by in stoic silence, just as he's done on previous occasions when his wife succumbed to the charms of various sexy suitors (one of whom is played by future cowboy star "Wild Bill" Elliot). Finally galvanized into action, Menelaus reclaims his bride, who seems none the worse for wear for her experiences. Just in case the audience missed the fact that the film isn't meant to be taken seriously, the producers have inserted a number of wisecracking subtitles, juxtaposing stilted "ancient" prose with up-to-date slang. And during the film's New York engagement, the scene in which the Trojan Horse appears was accompanied by an orchestral rendition of Horses, Horses, Horses! The Private Life of Helen of Troy was supposed to have been based on a novel by John Erskine, but don't you believe it.