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Fused Feud

Author: Cineanalyst
21 October 2009

This breezy comedy is about a cub newspaper reporter who goes to investigate a family feud, which has erupted into violence again—a parody of the real Hatfield-McCoy feud. Notably, Buster Keaton would also make a burlesque of the family feud with "Our Hospitality" (1923). "The Cub" isn't especially funny, though. It was, however, competently made by one of the better directors of the 1910s, Maurice Tourneur. Assisted by his usual editor and assistant director Clarence Brown, the photoplay contains continual, well-paced crosscutting between the feud and the newspapermen. Johnny Hines plays the cub reporter, but doesn't seem to me to be a particularly interesting comedian. He also had some forgettable, minor parts in other Tourneur films around this time.

The opening credits of "The Cub" are worth mentioning. Hines rotates cards with credits on them while the actors appear behind a frame. Lengthy credits where performers are introduced by individual titles and their image seems to have been common in the period of early feature-length films and was probably seen as a good way to create stars. Otherwise and later, actors tended to be introduced by title cards when their character first appeared in the narrative, in addition to brief titles at the beginning, and this sort of performed introduction outside of the narrative was dropped. "The Cub" has one of the more creative such introductions I've seen. Overall, "The Cub" isn't especially interesting and not one of Tourneur's best ("A Girl's Folly" (1917) and "Victory" (1919) are my favorites).

(Note: It's clear that this film has been nicely restored, but the home video copy from the Great Lakes Cinephile Society should have been windowboxed or such, which was evident for me during the credits sequence, as some of the titles were severely cutoff on the left side. More annoying, however, was the constant green trademark of the distributor's name at the bottom and corner of the image.)

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