“The Red Mill,” a 1927 silent picture starring Marion Davies, features Davies as Tina, a drudge and servant girl in Holland who falls in love with foreign visitor Dennis, played by Owen Moore. Tina and Dennis skate together along the lanes of her Dutch village, and then he leaves town while she returns to her life of drudgery. Willem, the mean and sadistic tavern owner, abuses Tina with threats and a whip, but she keeps her dignity and her keen sense of humor. She gets solace from her only faithful companion, a mouse named Ignatz who lives in her wooden clog.
Dennis returns on the day before the Burgomaster’s homely daughter, Gretchen, is set to marry the Governor. Gretchen, played by Louise Fazenda, actually loves the oafish Jacob, but she’s being forced to marry the Governor against her will. Tina switches places with Gretchen and the film’s mistaken-identity plot kicks in. Tina tries to stop the wedding, but Willem figures it out and locks Tina in the “haunted mill.” Lots of spooky sight gags ensue inside the mill until the thrilling finale.
Davies does a great job performing her wonderful stunts, especially when she skates around the village. Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, who uses the pseudonym “William Goodrich,” provides lots of funny set pieces that make the most of Davies’ talent and physical beauty. I especially like when she dons a mud mask, which is pulled off to reveal a perfectly made-up face; she changes in an instant from a drudge to a beautiful princess.