When the Clouds Roll By

When the Clouds Roll By is a 1919 American comedy film starring Douglas Fairbanks and directed by Victor Fleming and Theodore Reed.[1][2] After decades of not being seen by the public, the film was finally released in 2010 on DVD by Alpha Video with an original score by Don Kinnier.[1]

When the Clouds Roll By
Theatrical poster
Directed byVictor Fleming
Theodore Reed (uncredited)
Produced byDouglas Fairbanks
Written byDouglas Fairbanks (story)
T. J. G. (scenario)
Lewis Weadon (uncredited)
StarringDouglas Fairbanks
CinematographyWilliam McGann
Harry Thorpe
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • December 28, 1919 (1919-12-28)
Running time
50 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)


As described in a film magazine,[3] Daniel Boone Brown (Fairbanks), a superstitious but ambitious young New Yorker, is the victim of demented psychiatrist Dr. Ulrich Metz (Herbert Grimwood) who, with the aid of numberless associates serving him in the interests of science, arranges circumstances intended to drive Daniel to suicide. In the midst of a series of bewildering misfortunes apparently emanating from broken mirrors, black cats, and similar sources, Daniel meets Greenwich Village artist Lucette Bancroft (Kathleen Clifford), and mutual love results. A Westerner who owns land in partnership with Lucette's uncle comes to the city and plot's with Daniel's uncle Curtis (Lewis) to defraud his partner. Daniel, after being driven to the verge of suicide by the scientist and his aides, is saved when it is discovered that Dr. Metz is insane. Daniel then follows the Westerner, who has convinced Lucette to return to the west with him, when a flood engulfs the train they are riding on. Daniel brings about a happy resolution.



Fairbanks biographer Jeffrey Vance considers When the Cloud Rolls By to be the "best of all the contemporary Fairbanks comedies." "Executed at a breathless pace, When the Clouds Roll By is a masterful showpiece for the whirling cyclone of energy that was Douglas Fairbanks." Vance's highest praise is for the elaborate dream sequence, which he deems "a virtual encapsulation of every gymnastic feat in the Fairbanks repertoire" and notes that Fairbanks's walk on the ceiling of his home anticipates the celebrated "dancing on the ceiling" sequence in Stanley Donen's Royal Wedding (1951). Vance also notes that the film's flood sequence conclusion presages a similar ending in Buster Keaton's classic Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928).[4]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


  1. Progressive Silent Film List: When the Clouds Roll By at silentera.com
  2. "When the Clouds Roll By". American Film Institute. afi.com. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  3. "Reviews: When the Clouds Roll By". Exhibitors Herald. New York City: Exhibitors Herald Company. 10 (2): 61. January 10, 1920.
  4. Vance, Jeffrey (2008). Douglas Fairbanks. New York City: Berkeley Books. pp. 81-83. ISBN 978-0-520-25667-5.
  5. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 20 August 2016.
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