Considering the number of John Barrymore films that have crumbled to dust, it is fortunate indeed that the Barrymore vehicles which <i>have</i> survived are among his best works. One of the earliest Barrymore pictures still extant is Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman, a consistently delightful adaptation of the same-named short stories by E.W. Hornung. "The Great Profile" was in his element as Raffles, the gentleman jewel thief who is the bane of the existence of diligent Scotland Yard inspector Bedford (Frederick Perry). Ostensibly retired, Raffles agrees to one last heist to save his old friend "Bunny" (Frank Morgan) from committing suicide. The action takes place during a weekend party, with the eagle-eyed Bedford awaiting the first opportunity to pounce upon the elusive Raffles. But Bedford has reckoned without the beautiful Gwendolyn (Evelyn Brent), who simultaneously "reforms" Raffles and enables the lovable rogue to escape. Unlike the later adaptations of Raffles starring Ronald Colman and David Niven, the Barrymore version includes a great deal of outdoor action, including the hero's daring dive from a speeding yacht. Featured in the cast as a minor-league safecracker is celebrated baseball star "Turkey" Mike Donlin, reportedly a great pal and boon drinking companion of John Barrymore. The only complaint one could register against Raffles is that it is (by necessity) a silent film, denying viewers the pleasure of hearing as well as seeing the hero match wits against his detective nemesis.
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