Silent Movie Rule #13: Don’t be pushy! John Barrymore will join the Bolshevik uprising when he is good and ready


Tempest was one of many silent Hollywood romances set around the Russian Revolution. One of the most troubled productions of its day, the film had a revolving door for directors and leading ladies. The resulting film reveals none of the backstage chaos and is a blast to watch.

The main plot is the romance between John Barrymore and Camilla Horn but there is also a subplot which involves Barrymore being pursued by a Bolshevik recruiter (played by Boris De Fast, one of the few actual Russians in the cast and he bore a stunning resemblance to Alfred P. Neuman). Barrymore is contemptuous at first but a stint in solitary, compliments of an aristocrat, changes his tune.

Plus it gave him a chance to do a “I’m MAAAAAAAD!!!!!” scene. Oh how he loved his madman scenes.

(Read my full-length review here.)

Availability: Tempest has two high-quality editions available for purchase. The Kino edition has a 1970s era piano score by William P. Perry. I prefer the Image edition, which allows viewers to choose between the original orchestral Vitaphone score and a new piano score by Philip Carli. I love the Carli score (the Vitaphone music is a bit jaunty for modern ears) and it is the reason why I recommend the Image edition.

You rogue! You cad! You naughty, naughty man! Animated GIF


This is everything I love about John Barrymore in one convenient GIF.

Here is the formula:

1 part Don Juan

1/2 part Mr. Hyde

1 part Hamlet

2 parts Daffy Duck

The GIF is from Tempest, one of my favorite Barrymore vehicles. (You can read my review here) While not as zany as his performance in The Beloved Rogue, it still has just enough goofiness to keep things interesting. You can never accuse the man of being boring!


Tempest isavailable on DVD and via streaming with both original and modern scores.

Tempest (1928) A Silent Film Review

John Barrymore is a sergeant in the Russian army who dreams of winning an officer’s commission. But he hits a snag in the form of Camilla Horn, an imperious princess who seems to stumble him at every turn. Stripped of his rank, John goes a little mad and decides the Bolsheviks kind of have a point. The revolution is on, John is nuts, Camilla smolders and we have some grade-A entertainment.

No Shakespeare for you!

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