Noah's Ark (1928)

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    WARNER BROS (as The Vitaphone Corporation)

    Information From IMDb

    Plot Summary
    After a short split prologue showing riches as the root of evil
    in ancient and modern times, the film settles into 1914 France,
    where the Orient Express is about to be wrecked when a bridge washes out.
    Among those on board are Al and Travis, Americans
    who are traveling Europe spending Travis' money, and Marie, a German girl.
    The boys save Marie after the wreck and Travis falls in love with her.
    When World War I breaks out Al wants to enlist,
    but Travis can't, feeling loyal to Marie, a German.
    By 1917 Al has enlisted, and Travis follows him shortly after marrying Marie.
    Accused of being a German spy by a Russian agent,
    she is sentenced to die but is recognized by Travis,
    who is part of the firing squad.
    The town they are in is shelled and they are all trapped underground,
    during which a minister makes a lengthy parallel to ancient times
    when the King of Akkad persecuted his subjects and defied Jehovah,
    who finally sends a flood to wipe out mankind,
    except for Noah and his family, whom he has instructed to build an ark
    and fill it with two of every creature on earth.
    Written by Ron Kerrigan

    Full Cast
    Dolores Costello ... Mary / Miriam
    George O'Brien ... Travis / Japheth
    Noah Beery ... Nickoloff / King Nephiliu
    Louise Fazenda ... Hilda / Tavern Maid
    Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams ... Al / Ham (as Gwynn Williams)
    Paul McAllister ... Minister / Noah
    Myrna Loy ... Dancer / Slave Girl
    Anders Randolf ... The German / Leader of Soldiers
    Armand Kaliz ... The Frenchman / Leader of the King's Guard
    William V. Mong ... Innkeeper / Guard
    Malcolm Waite ... The Blakan / Shem
    Nigel De Brulier ... Soldier / High Priest
    Noble Johnson ... Broker
    Otto Hoffman ... Investor with Gun / Trader
    Joe Bonomo ... Aide to Leader of Soldiers (uncredited)
    Andy Devine ... Flood Extra (uncredited)
    Alphonse Martell ... French Policeman (uncredited)
    Torben Meyer ... Man on Train (uncredited)
    Nina Quartero ... French Girl (uncredited)
    Cliff Saum ... Soldier in Trench (uncredited)
    Duke Morrison ... Flood Extra (uncredited)

    Writing Credits
    Darryl F. Zanuck (story) (as Darryl Francis Zanuck)
    Anthony Coldeway (adaptation) (as Anthony Coldewey)
    De Leon Anthony (titles)

    Original Music
    Alois Reiser (uncredited)

    Barney McGill (photographed by)
    Hal Mohr (photographed by)

    Three extras drowned during the filming of the flood scene.

    One of the extras who survived the flood scene was John Wayne.

    When cameraman Hal Mohr was shown how the climactic flood scene was to be shot, he objected on the grounds that it would place many of the extras in jeopardy. Mohr told the executives that while the trained stuntmen knew what to expect, the ordinary extras would have no idea what was coming, and many would be hurt. When his objections were overruled, he quit the picture. During filming of the scene, the huge torrents of water overwhelmed the actors; three were drowned, one was so severely injured his leg had to be amputated, and almost a dozen had broken limbs and other serious injuries.

    John Wayne and Andy Devine were swimmers in the temple collapse sequence,
    but they are not recognizable among the hundreds of other swimmers.

    Movie Status
    * This film has been preserved by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in conjunction with the project American Moviemakers: The Dawn of Sound.

    * The "premiere" version, running 135 minutes, ran only at the opening engagement in Hollywood. By the time of the New York premiere some weeks later, the film had been trimmed by over 30 minutes. At least some of the cuts were of Vitaphone talking sequences that didn't work well. In particular, Paul McAllister (Noah/Minister) fared poorly, as all his talking scenes were removed.

    * Vitaphone production reels #2821-2836

    Dolores Costello came down with pneumonia while working on this film.

    Memorable Quote
    Al: This war is more than just a fight. It's more like a funeral. And everybody ought to be in the procession or the hearse.

    Filming Locations
    Big Basin, California, USA
    Garden of the Gods, Iverson Ranch, Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California, USA
    Iverson Ranch, Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California, USA

    Watch this Clip



    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 12 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • Noah's Ark is a 1928 American early romantic melodramatic disaster film
    directed by Michael Curtiz and written by Darryl F. Zanuck.
    The film starred Dolores Costello and George O'Brien.
    Released by Warner Bros. studio, the film was representative of the transition
    from silent movies to "talkies", although it was essentially a kind of film
    known as a part-talkie, utilizing new (at that time) Vitaphone sound-on-disc technology.
    Some scenes are silent, in particular the biblical ones, while others have sound.

    During the filming of the climactic flood scene,
    the great volume of water used was so overwhelming that three extras drowned,
    one was so badly injured that his leg needed to be amputated,
    and a number suffered broken limbs and other serious injuries,
    which led to implementation of stunt safety regulations the following year.
    Dolores Costello caught a severe case of pneumonia.

    John Wayne and Andy Devine were among the hundreds of extras in the flood scene.
    Wayne also worked in the prop department for the film.

    Portions of the movie were filmed at the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif.,
    and the location was incorporated into an iconic special effects shot that opens the film.
    The shot depicts the massive ark "beached" on the giant boulders of the movie ranch's
    Garden of the Gods,
    which later would become famous for appearances in hundreds of movies
    including John Ford's Stagecoach (1939).


    Hard to imagine, the same location as Stagecoach, The Fighting Seabees etc

    This was the first movie that involved Duke
    with the prolific director Michael Curtiz.
    He was to later direct Duke in
    Trouble Along the Way (1953)
    The Comancheros (1961)

    The latter being Curtiz's last movie.

    This early biblical epic, which was an early Geroge O'Brien film,
    was a classic of it's time, with early special effects.

    It was one of these staged scenes, that torrents of water were required.
    Tragically it cost the lives of three extras and seriously injured many others.
    The young Duke Morrison and 'Pal' Andy Devine,
    were used as swimmers in these scenes,
    and Duke was lucky to escape with his life!


    The tragic scenes.

    User Review


    (Michael Curtiz, 1928) ***1/2
    17 April 2009 | by MARIO GAUCI (Naxxar, Malta)

    The film which cemented versatile director Curtiz' reputation in Hollywood is a part-Talkie spectacular which, despite the title, is not entirely concerned with the famous holocaust depicted in the Old Testament. Rather, it purports to parallel the Deluge with the massive losses in human life incurred during the so-called Great War; in that respect, NOAH'S ARK survives not merely as a solid example of late 1920s film craftsmanship but also as a heartfelt morality play delineating the long-lasting effect of that particular combat upon society – pity that, for all its good intentions, a second (and infinitely harsher) World War would be waged in the space of just 11 years! Anyway, to get back to the topic at hand, I knew the film enjoyed a considerable reputation among epic productions of the Silent era but, aware of the fact that the Biblical tale was only illustrated in the form of a vision (lasting for about 40 of its 100 minutes) embedded within the main plot, I had expected to be disappointed by it. However, we open on a remarkably elaborate prologue (superbly-edited in the contemporary Soviet style) and the WWI sequences themselves are well done (featuring even a spectacular train crash early on) and prove surprisingly absorbing in their own right (especially the interaction between the four protagonists – Noah Beery, Dolores Costello, George O'Brien and Guinn "Big Boy" Williams). Incidentally, all four (and a few others) play additional roles in the Noah story; this section is done on a truly grand scale, in clear imitation of Cecil B. DeMille (with a couple of obvious nods to THE TEN COMMANDMENTS [1923] which, coincidentally, I watched 2 days later!) – with the flood itself still highly impressive after all these years and undoubtedly deserving to be ranked among the finest sequences in all of cinema (though controversy still rages about the apparent disregard for the consideration and safety of those involved – with three extras reportedly drowning and several more getting injured during its shooting)!

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 9 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • . . . and Duke was lucky to escape with his life!

    Possibly, Providential.

    On another note, I see that one of the filming locations listed is Big Basin, California. Half an hour from our home is Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Thinking that possibly there might be another location with the same name, I Googled "Big Basin, CA" and guess what came up? The location close to our house! Who knew? I wonder if there is any mention anywhere around the park about it being a location for movies in the twenties? I guess we might have to go on a docent-led tour and find out.


  • From "Who the hell's in it" Peter Bogdanovich, Faber and Faber ISBN 978-0571224302, page 284

    "As a matter of fact, when they were making Noah’s Ark they called our school and wanted kids over six foot to come out for $15 a day and swim while they broke the temple down on top of us. Another fella and I were standing together and Andy came up beside me and he says, “Hey, give me a hand, will you?” And he put a hand on my shoulder and a hand on this other guy’s shoulder, and he’s that big around, he’s the first one they picked, you know."

    So at least we know where to look at this film and try to spot JW.

    It would be helpful to see a picture of Andy Devine from this time as well if anyone could post one please.

    Be who you are & say what you feel Because those who mind dont matter & those who matter dont mind

    Edited once, last by Elly ().

  • Well, it seems the folks at the Warner Archive have recently released another movie with a JW bit role, as Noah's Ark (1928) is now available on DVD. They previously had released College Coach (1933) and Central Airport (1933) as well.

    I have recently received and watched the Warner archive version of Noah's ark.

    IMHO it is no better than the copy I already had on DVD recorded from TV (MOMA restored version).

    Warner version is the MOMA restored version on DVD-R or DVD+R (always get these mixed up sorry) No extras etc.

    BUT at least there is an official DVD of this film out there so some progress.

    Be who you are & say what you feel Because those who mind dont matter & those who matter dont mind