“His last film looks like a cruel allegory of his own decline and fall. The Private Life of Don Juan (1934) was directed by Alexander Korda. The plot is slight, but the film is pretty and not nearly as bad as it has been reputed. What makes it so disconcerting is the impossibility of not identifying the role with the actor. Don Juan is at the height of his fame, but feels a little under the weather (I think that this was about the time that Fairbanks himself had his first taste of sickness and underwent minor surgery). Yet while he lays up a while, his alleged exploits continue to delight Seville, for a young upstart is impersonating him. When the imposter is killed by a jealous husband, the real Don Juan sees a heaven-sent opportunity for respite from the responsibilities of his reputation and the pursuits of his life.
Idleness begins to chafe, and he decides to resume his career. It is disaster. One girl demands payment for her favour; another says she likes him because he is so like her father and will he please take a message to her boyfriend. A stout matron (Athene Seyler) invites him to marry her and settle down. On his return to Seville, his last lover denies him, saying that Don Juan was bigger and more handsome. The final humiliation comes when he leaps on the stage of the theatre to protest at a libellous play, and is ridiculed by the whole vast audience. The end is a dubiously happy one: forsaking the identity of Don Juan he returns to his wife and a future of domesticity. For Fairbanks, whose marriage with Mary Pickford had broken up irrevocably, whose career, whether he knew it or not, was at an end, and who died in his sleep of a heart attack a week or so after the start of the Second World War, the ending was not so cosy. But like Don Juan, he had bequeathed a legend and the shadow of a hero”.
(David Robinson, The Hero, cit.)