The Cossacks (1928) is a silent film starring John Gilbert, MGM's leading heartthrob for most of The Roaring '20s. Here Gilbert plays Lukashka, son of Ivan, the chief of a band of Cossacks sometime during the Tsarist era. Lukashka disdains the traditional Cossack pastime of killing Turks; instead he only wants to romance pretty villager Maryana (Renee Adoree, Gilbert's co-star in The Big Parade). Lukashka's unwillingness to go off on raids disgusts everyone in the village, including his dad and his girlfriend. Eventually he does go to fight the Turks, winning everyone's respect, but another complication arrives in the form of Prince Olenin from Moscow, who is looking for a Cossack wife to bind the Cossacks closer to the monarchy.
The Cossacks was one of the last big silent spectacles ever made, and one of the last big hits for John Gilbert, whose career tanked with the coming of talkies.
- The Cavalry: The Cossacks pretty much are this all the time, but specifically when they ride out and save Lukashka from his Turkish captors. The Cavalry Arrives Late, as far as Ivan is concerned.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: The Turks do this to Ivan and Lukashka, pretty much For the Evulz.
- Conflict Ball: It's not particularly clear why Lukashka won't go on raids with the other men. He doesn't appear to have any moral objection to it, and once he finally does, he proves quite good at killing Turks.
- Fanservice: A pretty surprising scene in which Renee Adoree, who is trying to find Lukashka before he rides away, crawls through a crowd of horses, her cleavage dangling before the camera.
- The Film of the Book: Based on a novel by Leo Tolstoy.
- Kneel Before Zod: Their Turkish captors demand that Ivan and Lukashka kneel before them. When they won't, the Turks break out the torture implements.
- Kubrick Stare: Lukashka gives one to his father after Ivan confronts him about his peaceful ways.
- Love Triangle: Lukashka, Maryana, and Prince Olenin, who offers her a pretty good life in Moscow with the nobility.
- Never Learned to Read: Lukashka appears to be the only one in the village who can read and write, so he drafts the insulting letter to the Turks.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: All the Cossacks. When Olenin announces that the Tsar has made peace with the Turks, the Cossacks are horrified at the prospect of not fighting, and immediately send an insulting letter to the Turks in hope of stirring up another conflict.
- A Taste of the Lash: Ivan breaks out a whip to discipline his rebellious son. Lukashka proceeds to take the whip from him and whip his father, much to Ivan's delight. Later, after they're captured, the Turks whip them both.
- That Russian Squat Dance: Lukashka does this when the men of the village come back from a raid and party with some Gypsy women.
- Vodka Drunkenski: The Cossacks know how to party. When the men are coming home, vodka and women are all they want.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Lukashka wants his father's respect.