The Bohemian Girl  , directed by Harley Knoles, is a film based on William Balfe’s nineteenth century operetta of the same name. The story follows a young Polish soldier named Thaddeus [Ivor Novello] who is on the run from Austrian soldiers. Gratefully Devilshoof the gispy [C. Aubrey Smith who was later seen in Maurice Elvey's The Tunnel] is knocking about to offer Thaddeus shelter and to induct him into his bohemian fold.
Novello looks positively dreamy in his roguish gipsy getup and things are looking up until he corageously saves Count Arnheim’s daughter Arlene [played by Gladys Cooper] from a bloodthirsty bear in the forest [cue one of the most ridiculous, and entertaining, bear-wrestling scenes you are ever likely to witness] . The Count [Henry Vibart] is very grateful for his daughter’s rescue until Devilshoof creates a scene at the Count’s luncheon. Then it’s the dungeon for him. In an act of revenge Devilshoof steals Arlene and raises her as a gipsy.
One of the most impressive aspects of this picture is undoubtedly its set pieces, Arnheim’s house is spacious and pristine, glowing with a sense of affluence and the gypsy park is a lovable huddle of trailers and small camp fires. Aesthetically it is a rousing watch. The acting is, in places, a little on the hammy side but Constance Collier puts in a deliciously withering performance as the vengeful gipsy queen and Cooper is sweet and sensitive as the lovestruck Arlene.
Somewhat unconventionally for the time, the cast is comprised almost entirely of theatrical players which caused some disdain from trade paper: Kinematograph Weekly on release. According to academic Alex Rock, the publication was eager to distance the art of cinema from that of the music hall and consequently protested: ” [T] he array of stage names, whilst undoubtedly an advertising asset, adds nothing to the dramatic value of the production. There seems no reason whatever why the leads should not have been in the hands of competent screen artistes.” Given how easy on the eye Novello is I can’t say I have any personal objection to this particular creative decision.
Overall an entertaining and heartcheering example of early adaptation work. Respect to Stephen Horne for providing seamless musical accompaniment despite the fact that there is no clear indication of the order in which certain songs should be played.