Nearly all of those whom Hollywood has made famous have at one time or another appeared before the public as the "most distinguished actor on the American screen." George Arliss is one of the few who deserve the title. Even if he had never triumphed so notably in "Disraeli" and "Voltaire," his performance in "The House of Rothschild" would entitle him to a place in the dramatic Hall of Fame.
Mr. Arliss plays the character role of Nathan Rothschild, and before that of the penurious elder Rothschild, superbly well. It requires great skill and considerable sympathy to act the part of a member of a despised race, but Mr. Arliss is entirely equal to the task. It is unfortunate from the historical point of view that the producers have seen fit to make Mr. Arliss's role far more pleasant on the screen than it was in actual life. Under Hollywood hands Nathan Rothschild becomes an heroic, altruistic, entirely admirable person. For example, the movie shows Rothschild risking every cent he possessed in a brave attempt to keep up England's credit by bolstering the falling Exchange, with market quotations dropping at every rumor of victory by Napoleon at Waterloo. Actually, one is informed, Rothschild has advance news of Wellington's triumph and hastened to buy up the market when it was at a dead low, just before the news of the defeat of the Corsican sent the market booming.
If one rejects this inaccuracy and regards the film purely as a dramatic attempt, he will have the pleasure of seeing a very excellent production. The supporting cast is very good. Loretta Young, as Rothschild's rather superficial daughter, Julie, does a surprisingly good job. Another part that is very well done is that of the elder Rothschild's wife, mother of the five brothers who founded Europe's most powerful chain of banking houses.
The minor attractions esnsist of Theima Todd in a comedy "Maid in Hollywood" and a movie of some remarkable acrobatic stunts. Furthermore, Mickey Mouse is here again in another Walt Disney comedy, a good one, too.