Two Arabian Knights (1927) – reviewed by George

This is a comedy about the adventures away from World War I of two incompatible soldiers: a rich Private, W. Dangerfield Phelps III (William Boyd) and a poor Sergeant, Peter O’Gaffney (Louis Wolheim). The guys dislike each other for most of the film, but have to depend on each other to survive.
The movie begins in the mud and rain of no-man’s land where W. falls into a foxhole that is so big that it has a bench cut out of the dirt. Minutes later there’s another huge explosion of artillery and Peter falls in too. They might have killed each other, but the German Army shows up and captures them both. They are quick-marched with other Allied prisoners – the title card says Americans, French, English, Belgians, Arabs – to a POW camp in northern Germany – lots of snow. Here their first stop is the delousing station which the caption calls “The Cootie Crematory”. After that they are assigned to a barracks and they spend days trying to figure out an escape that will work.
Then they look at the Arab prisoners in their white burnooses and Click! The white burnooses against the snow – unseen! So they steal a couple and get away. They try to get to the sea in order to catch a boat back to France, but are almost caught and have to get on an Arab boat, destination not France, but back to an Arab nation on the north coast of Africa, specific name not supplied. On the boat, still in the burnooses, they see the Emir (Michael Vavitch) and meet his daughter Mirza (Mary Astor). Both soldiers fall for her, and now they have another reason to ¬†dislike each other (or as Dorothy Lamour says in “Road to Rio”, “I hate you, I loathe you, I despise you.”). And look for Boris Karloff in the tiny role of The Purser on the Emir’s boat.
Eventually the guys work together to leave the Emir’s palace, and we have a happy ending. Now you tell me who Mirza ends up with (of course you already know).
This is pretty funny stuff, but needs something – maybe a less deadly background? Or more slapstick? Anyway, written by Wallace Smith and Cyril Gardner from the original story by Donald McGibeny, and directed by Lewis Milestone, this is light-weight entertainment from the silent era, and you will probably like it (if you like silents).
NOTE: I had never heard of Arabs in WW I, so tried to check it out. Merriam-Webster defines burnoose as a one-piece hooded cloak worn by Arabs and Bedouins, so maybe it’s just a plot device to get white coverall clothing into the story.
And Wikipedia says that Muslims from Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh fought alongside the English forces. So there’s some basis to go on, but only Arabs wear the clothing required for the escape.

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