There are many reasons people enjoy movies, but right now I want to think about two very broad reasons: to be entertained and to learn something new. In Disraeli, you may accomplish one of those, but probably not both.
It is 1874 and Benjamin Disraeli (George Arliss) is Prime Minister of England. He is trying to launch an ambitious and controversial foreign policy expanding England’s empire by buying the Suez Canal. Mixed in, because too much politics can be stuffy, we meet Lord Charles Deeford (Anthony Bushell) who has just proposed to Lady Clarissa Pevensey (Joan Bennett). But she turns him down, saying that he is too complacent already having high class, she wants a man more ambitious. When Disraeli hears of this dilemma, he suggests having Charles work for him. Naturally, Charles soon hears about Disraeli’s plans to buy the canal, but accidentally lets a spy in on the secret. Soon, Charles is off to Egypt to secure the purchase. Unfortunately, we don’t go with Charles, that would be too adventurous. Instead, we are with Disraeli faking a sickness and trying to figure out how to secure the money when both good and bad news arrives.
George Arliss won the Oscar for Best Actor for portraying Disraeli. For a while in the film, I was afraid that award went to his odd hairstyle and hand waving technique. It is towards the end where he shines. The scene where he fakes his illness is almost silly, but serves well in bringing out a crafty quality in Disraeli. It’s after everything seems alright, except a personal matter that we see a more heartfelt struggle within Disraeli.
The one thing I got out of this film was a little taste of 19th century British history and another classic film under my belt. The sound is terrible and the visuals are boring. The office scenes look too vacant and hallow for the people and characters to fill. The only moment of emotional recognition in the film was towards the end, but it was only a flicker.
Thanks to one of my newest readers, Audrey, I was able to crack the YouTube code in finding this film. It turns out if you just remove all the vowels from the title and insert “A” afterward, you’re most likely to find obscure classic films. But remember, don’t tell YouTube if you still want these movies available.
“War is never a solution. It’s an aggravation.”