Released 9/26/14 by Universal/101 Bison; Director: Allan Dwan; Screenplay: Allan Dwan, from the play by E. Bulwer Lytton; Technical Director: Frank Ormston; 4 reels (cut down from 6 reels; see notes below)
CAST: Murdock MacQuarrie (Cardinal Richelieu), Pauline Bush (Julie de Mortemar), James Neill (The King), Edythe Chapman (The Queen), William C. Dowlan (Adrien de Mauprat), Lon Chaney (Baradas), Richard Rosson (Francois), William Lloyd (Joseph), Edna Maison (Marion de Lorme), Robert Chandler (Sieur de Beringhen), Frank Rice (Huget), John Burton
SYNOPSIS: The King Louis XVI of France is caught paying his unwelcome attentions to Julie, the ward of Cardinal Richelieu. The girl loves De Pauprat who has been sent to Spain with the army as punishment for capturing a French town without his leader's orders. De Mauprat returns a hero, but Baradas, who is also in love with Julie, draws him into a plot to kill the cardinal and dethrone the king. Richelieu learns of the conspiracy and orders De Mauprat executed, but Julie pleads for his life and they are wed. The king again makes advances towards Julie, but this time it is the queen who saves her. Baradas again draws De Mauprat into a plot to kill the cardinal, but again the men are outwitted by the sly old cardinal. De Mauprat and Julie are reunited.
"This finely photographed four-reel production of "Richelieu," besides being good entertainment, has a pleasing historical interest...The costuming is pleasing throughout this production, the photography is exceptionally smooth and inviting, and the choice of settings admirable." --Moving Picture World
"Allan Dwan...has succeeded in really reproducing a section from the most momentous and troublous times in the history of France...Mr. MacQuarrie's portrayal of Richelieu is really a fine piece of acting" ---Motion Picture News
NOTES: RICHELIEU was a major production for Universal and was originally released in March of 1914 as a full 6-reel feature film, making it Chaney's first full-length feature. The reviews of the time indicated that the picture was not well received, and the following review from Moving Picture World indicated the general consensus that the picture was too long: "A six-reel production of the celebrated Cardinal Richelieu, following the lines of the famous play by that name...There are some good characterizations in this and some that seemed inadequate. The plot is a highly interesting one toward the close, but the action in the first three reels is rather slow and confusing. This would have been much stronger as either a three or four reel production. Not a thoroughly artistic production, but one on which much care and thought have been expended. After the initial poor response for a picture on which so much time and money were expended, Carl Laemmle apparently ordered that the film be recut to bring it to its final release length of four reels.
RICHELIEU was originally intended to be released as a "Universal Special" which required film exchanges to pay an extra $5 per week for the use of the film. With over 10,000 exchanges booking from Universal, this would put an extra $50,000 in the Universal coffers, but at the last minute Laemmle decided to release the film under the regular 101 Bison banner, eliminating the surcharge. He cited unsettled conditions in the film industry due to the war in Europe, and his desire to foster greater cooperation between the manufacturers and exchanges. In reality, he was probably concerned over the problems with the original release that forced him to recut the picture.
This was the last film that Allan Dwan would make at Universal, although some of his Universal productions were yet to be released. He soon signed with the Famous Players Co, and moved to their studio in New York. The next year he would marry actress Pauline Bush who had starred in so many of his films. The marriage would end in divorce about 6 years later.
© 1997,2013 Jon C. Mirsalis
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