Fun Size Review: Surrender (1927)

I hate this movie so much that I almost can’t write about it. I hate it because the love story is creepy and horrible. I hate it because the hero of the tale is a genocidal rapist and that is portrayed as a-okay in the story. Most of all, I hate it because the talent of Ivan Mosjoukine is wasted on utter dreck. (This was his only American film.) It’s about a Cossack who falls for the rabbi’s daughter (Mary Philbin, hoo boy) and threatens to burn the local Jewish populace alive if she doesn’t sleep with him. Excuse me while I go punch something.

Mary Philbin is "acting" Whoopee.
Mary Philbin is “acting”
How does it end? Hover or tap below for a spoiler.

It turns out that the rabbi’s daughter totally goes for genocidal rapists! She helps Mosjoukine escape when the enemy approaches, gets thrown out of her village (because OF COURSE) and then reunites with him later. Boo! Hiss!

If it were a dessert it would be: Vomit-flavored jelly beans. This is a thing. Why is this a thing?

You can read my full-length review rant here.

Availability: Released on DVD.


    1. Fritzi Kramer

      I actually think she was a lovely woman. All of her interviews show a charming and gentle personality and unlike, say, Lillian Gish, her backstage tales actually stand up to scrutiny. In fact, she is one of the more reliable silent film personalities as far as truthfulness. I actually blame Carl Laemmle for shoving her into every film with every big imported European star. She was a terrible actress but the nepotism at Universal (Philbin was a family friend) meant that she was given roles that were simply too big for her.

    1. Fritzi Kramer

      I go into much more detail in my full-length review but the tl;dr version is that Universal head Carl Laemmle was absolutely obsessed with the play upon which this film was based and insisted that it had to be made. Philbin was under contract and had to act in what she was told, same with Mosjoukine, who was also fresh from France and not well-acquainted with the Hollywood system yet. Edward Sloman directed and wrote the script. Not exactly sure what he was thinking there but then again, he was also under contract. The studio system, ladies and gentlemen!

  1. Michael Kuzmanovski

    What a waste of Mosjoukine. It looks like this movie’s “hero” is any other movie’s dastardly villain.

      1. nitrateglow

        Sadly the whole “hero tries to rape the heroine then changes his mind and this makes him automatically noble and good yays” thing was kind of a trope in some American silent pictures, wasn’t it? I have no idea why.

      2. Fritzi Kramer

        Yeah, it was pretty common. And idiotic. I mean, who would believe this scenario?

        Robber: I will rob this bank!
        Teller: No, please don’t!
        Robber: I feel guilty now. I will not rob this bank! I will now leave.
        Teller: Oh, thank you. Please take all our money with you.

      3. nitrateglow

        Was the “aggressive lovemaking” thing simply a common feminine fantasy in the 1920s? It almost feels like from the amount of times it comes up in romance films and melodramas of that period of filmmaking… at least in the US.

      4. Fritzi Kramer

        It was a very popular fantasy. There was one romantic “comedy” called All Night that is basically about a wife with a nice husband who spends the entire film trying to get him to beat her. He finally grabs her and shakes her in the end, thus providing a “happy” ending. I should note that the there were reverse gender spoofs of this, most notably in films from Bebe Daniels and Leatrice Joy and Harry Langdon sends the whole thing up beautifully in The Strong Man he becomes convinced that Gertrude Astor is threatening him with a fate worse than death.

  2. Kate

    “Just to be clear, there is a big difference between foisting bad scripts and low budgets off on an out-of-favor performer and putting a Hollywood newcomer in what is essentially an expensively mounted Springtime for Hitler.”

    That gave me a good chuckle.

    How do you pronounce “Mosjoukine”? Google is kind of wishy-washy.

    1. Fritzi Kramer

      Glad you enjoy!

      Per Mosjoukine’s name pronunciation, I just go by the way it was pronounced in Cinema Europe:

      Mose (rhymes with nose but soften the “s” a bit)
      zhoo (zh pronounced like the “s” in treasure)
      keen (easy!)

      With the middle syllable emphasized. If you want to be extra fancy, pronounce Ivan as “ee-vahn”

      This isn’t the Russian pronunciation but the English pronunciation of the French version of his name. As his biggest films were in France, this makes the most sense. Plus, the Russian pronunciation involves gutturals. πŸ˜‰

      1. Kate

        His Wikipedia article gave the Russian pronunciation of his name, but I had a feeling that wasn’t the popular one, so thank you! That is a helpful guide.

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