My favourite street in Paris is the Rue Christine. This evening we had dinner at the remarkable Christine restaurant (excellent confit of veal followed by an extraordinary mojito baba) and then crossed the road to the Action cinema for John Ford’s The Lost Patrol (about a group of British soldiers stranded in Mesopotamia after their officé has died)l.
Could I imagine a better evening? Well, actually yes.It could have been the silent version of The Lost Patrol directed by Walter Summers a few years before Ford made his movie. But that is one of the great legion of silent films that are probably forever lost.
The Ford version is probably the better film (and seeing it this evening reminded me how very taut and economical it is dramatically.) The Summers version, though, according to reports, was much closer to Philip MacDonald’s original novel, including flashbacks to the soldiers’ civilian lives, and so showing tensions inherited from peacetime destroying the c0hesion and morale of the patrol. Ford hints at this, but the theme doesn’t dominate.
Boris Karloff played the same part in both silent and sound versions – Saunders, increasingly controlled by religious mania. Not a subtle performance, but a superb one.