The Blue Bird
While most of the plays and novels of Maurice Maeterlinck have proved virtually impossible to film, the author's allegorical fantasy The Blue Bird has been translated to the screen no fewer than three times. The first version, directed by Maurice Tourneur and designed by Tourneur's favorite art director Ben Carre, was arguably the most visually impressive of the three (though the 1940 version, starring Shirley Temple), ran a close second. The story is the familiar one about two mittel-European youngers, Tyltyl (Robin MacDougall) and Mytyl (Tula Belle), who, unhappy with their present lots in life, embark upon a search for the Bluebird of Happiness. In the course of their odyssey, the children pay extended visits to the "Palace of Joy and Delights" and "The Land of the Unborn," with a quick stop-over at the graves of their briefly resurrected grandparents. Learning an important Life Lesson at every turn, the kids discover what they should have known at the beginning: That the Bluebird of Happiness was in their own backyard all the time. A brilliant collage of genuine exterior scenes and splendiferous studio-designed sets, The Blue Bird may have seemed a bit "stagey" at times (indeed, it sometimes looked exactly like the stage play from which it was derived), but in terms of sheer beauty and entertainment value, the film could not be faulted. Some historians consider the film to be the best of Maurice Tourneur's surviving silent films, surpassing even his 1922 masterpiece The Last of the Mohicans.