The Rogue Song (1930) is a romantic musical film which tells the story of a Russian bandit who falls in love with a princess, but takes his revenge on her when her brother rapes and kills his sister. It was directed by Lionel Barrymore and Hal Roach (uncredited) and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film stars Lawrence Tibbett who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance. Laurel and Hardy have small roles, which were filmed at the last minute and interspersed throughout the film in an attempt to boost the film's box office appeal. The Rogue Song is now considered a lost film, although approximately half a minute of Laurel and Hardy's footage survives.
The story takes place in Russia
in the year 1910. Yegor (Lawrence Tibbett), a dashing (as well as singing) bandit
leader meets Princess Vera (Catherine Dale Owen) at a mountain inn. They fall in love
, but the relationship is shattered when Yegor kills
Vera's brother, Prince Serge, for raping his sister, Nadja, and driving her to suicide
. Yegor kidnaps Vera, forcing her to live a life of lowly servitude among the bandits. Vera manages to outwit Yegor, who's captured by soldiers and flogged
. Vera begs Yegor's forgiveness. Although still in love with each other, they realize they cannot be together, at least for the time being.
Laurel and Hardy
There were ten comic episodes throughout the film in which Laurel and Hardy appeared. One of these has survived on film. In this scene, there is a storm
and a tent
is blown away revealing Stan and Oliver. They try to sleep without any cover. A bear
enters a cave
. Stan and Oliver decide to seek shelter in the cave and, because it is so dark, they can't see the bear. Oliver thinks Stan is wearing a fur coat
. The bear begins to growl. Stan and Oliver flee
A couple of segments from the Laurel and Hardy sequences also survive on the trailer to the film, which has survived intact.
The film is all-color (Technicolor
) and all-talking, and is Laurel and Hardy's first appearance in colour.
The movie was adapted by John Colton and Frances Marion from the operetta Gypsy Love by Robert Bodansky and A. M. Willner.
Lost film status
- Despite extensive searches, no complete print of the movie has been found. One reel featuring a ballet sequence survives intact, another surviving reel features Lawrence Tibbett singing to Catherine Dale Owen. In addition, a short fragment exists which is the only surviving footage featuring Laurel & Hardy. The original trailer also survives intact. In addition, the complete soundtrack survives because it was recorded on separate Vitaphone disks. The early two-strip Technicolor process used nitrate film stock, which proved especially unstable due to the color dyes used. The original negatives were destroyed and most prints of the films deteriorated rapidly. Digital restoration processes have been employed to transfer many early Technicolor films to more stable "safety" stock.
- The Lawrence Tibbett Estate held a color copy of the entire "Rogue Song" for many years after the Metropolitan baritone's death. Tibbett liked the film and showed it frequently to his friends. The late Allan Jones was a regular visitor and friend and reportedly gained possession of the print, which his son Jack Jones unfortunately had to junk because of nitrate film decomposition.
- MGM held the negative of reel 4 until the early 70s.
- A recent discovery in the former East Germany has provided evidence that a German two-color print of the film was copied, dubbed into Russian, and sent to the Soviet Union.