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Contemporary Review
Abdul the Damned (1935)
Film Weekly, September 20th, 1935

B.I.P.   A.   British, 109 mins
Abdul Hamid II
Kislar, His Double
Fritz Kortner
Kadar Pasha Nils Asther
Ali, the Grand Eunuch Esmé Percy
Talak Pasha John Stuart
Therese Adrienne Ames
Hassan Bey Walter Rilla
Hilmi Pasha Charles Carson
Abbas Alfred Woods
Omar Patric Knowles
Young Turk Conspirator Eric Portman
Doctor Clifford Heatherly
General of the Bodyguards Henry Longhurst
English Lady Annie Esmond
Chief Inquisitor H. Saxon Snell
Officer of the Firing Squad George Zucco
Opera Singer Robert Naylor
Young Turk Singer Warren Jenkins
Malik, a Spy Henry Paterson
Modiste Charlotte Francis
Directed by Karl Grune

Strong drama of a sinister Sultan tortured by fear of assassination, magnificently acted by Fritz Kortner. Interesting, impressive and, for the most part, gripping entertainment.

Ostensibly, the picture's theme is the overthrow of Sultan Abdul Hamid in an uprising hastened by his own misdeeds. With Fritz Kortner as Abdul, however, it has become substantially a character study - an intense psychologically sound portrait of a man terrorised by the repercussions of his own reign of terror!

With extraordinary subtlety and remarkable economy of expression, Kortner exposes the tortured mentality of a foolish despot whose weakness is revealed only too plainly in the atrocities with which he seeks to maintain his power and safeguard his person. Friendless, surrounded by enemies, respected by none, he brings about his own downfall and is pathetically glad of ignomious exile when it is offered to him at the end.

It would have been better for the picture as a whole if the director had abetted the star in making Abdul Hamid, the man, more important than the events revolving round him. Too much time is given, especially at the beginning, to the obscure and not very exciting plottings of Turkish political parties. And there is an unworthy subsidiary story of a Viennese dancer (Adrienne Ames), who is compelled by the unscrupulous Turkish Police Chief (Nils Asher) to enter the Sultan's harem in return for the life of her lover.

The acting honours are natuarally coniscated by the star - all of them - although Esmé Percy, as the Grand Eunuch, succeeds in turning in a notable supporting performance, and Nils Asher is theatrically effective as the Chief of Police.

** Born September 22, 1842, Abdul Hamid II became Sultan of Turkey in 1876, on the deposition of his brother. His long reign saw many changes in the country - chiefly for the worse. A sutle diplomatist, he cleverly played the European Powers against each other, but his empire was always in disorder, and the Armenian massacres of 1896 earned him the titles of The Great Assassin and Abdul the Damned. In April 1909, he was deposed and put in captivity, by the Young Turks under Evan Bey. He died in Constantinople, February 11, 1918.

Before the picture started, a B.I.P. unit filmed exteriors in Turkey for use as "atmosphere" and in "back projection shots". The rest of the film was made at Elstree.

Fritz Kortner, Shaksperian star of the German theatre, came to England last year to make "Chu Chin Chow" and "Evenong". Recently finished "The Crouching Beast", from Valentine Williams's spy thrilleer. "The Man with the Club Foot". Has been called "the Jannings of the talkies".

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