Though John Bunny and Flora Finch were a popular comedy team of the early silent era, apparently very few of the over 200 hundred shorts that they made for Vitagraph survive. I had never seen either of them and was lucky enough to catch Hearts and Diamonds.
Bunny on screen was a combination of W.C. Fields and S.Z. Sakall. He was a roly poly fellow, only about 5 feet 4 inches and tipping the scales at 300 pounds. Flora Finch was a tall thin lady, a whole lot like Margaret Hamilton.
Bunny is a widower with two grown daughters and a pair of suitors that he's not crazy about. He is crazy about the widow Finch who apparently loves baseball. In a reverse of Damn Yankees where the husband is the baseball fan to the neglect of his wife, Finch ain't interested in any man who's not a lover of baseball.
So what does Bunny do, he recruits a baseball team of his own with some reluctant help from his prospective sons-in-law. They challenge another team that popular baseball pitcher Matty Christhiesen puts together. Christhiesen may have the talent, but Bunny is fighting for his lady love.
I think you can figure the rest of the story out. In a bow to popular baseball as it was in 1914, Matty Christhiesen is a play on the name of the most popular baseball pitcher of his time Christy Mathewson whose career was heading into the twilight at this point. Mathewson was one of the most popular men in America at the time, he was an idol and spokesman for clean living and sportsmanship. He perfected the fadeaway pitch as the screwball was called back in the day and still remains the only man whoever specialized in that pitch who didn't ruin his arm with it.
This was one of the last films Bunny made, he died the following year. It's a funny and yet tender kind of comedy. Baseball fans especially should love it.
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