THE YOUNG RAJAH (1922)
Article 5135 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Phil Rosen
Featuring Rudolph Valentino, Wanda Hawley, Pat Moore
What it is: Exotic romance
In India, when a usurper takes over the throne, the young prince is rescued, given the gift of precognition, and is adopted by Americans. Once grown, he romances a woman, but the usurper discovers that the prince still lives, and wants him killed.
Of course it’s an exotic romance; look at the lead actor. This movie was considered lost for many years, but the final three reels and a few fragments were unearthed, and a reconstruction of the film using stills to fill in the missing footage was put together; I’m sure the original film ran longer than the 52 minute version I saw. The precognition is the primary fantastic content, and much of it is peppered with Indian mysticism as well. The precognition is used to enhance one of the themes of the movie, which is destiny; the movie plays with the idea that our fates are not in our own hands. In its present form, it’s moderately entertaining, but because it’s at least partially a stills reconstruction, it does feel a bit distant. Those who are primarily interested in the exotic action of the story will have to wait a bit; most of the action is centered on the American romance.