|Index||3 reviews in total|
FOX TROT FINESSE is a pleasant, straightforward little situation comedy
starring a married couple who billed themselves as Mr. and Mrs. Sidney
Drew. He came from the Barrymore/Drew clan, and had a background on the
stage; she was a scenarist and film actress. The movie's plot, as
outlined above, might sound like an early version of the domestic TV
sitcoms that would become so familiar (and tiresome, eventually) in the
1950's and '60s, and I suppose it amounts to little more than that, and
yet the film has a touch of charm all its own, attributable mainly to
Sidney Drew certainly doesn't look like a comedian: he's a weary, wizened little man with a hawk nose who chain-smokes throughout the movie, and looks much older than his 52 years-- closer to 72. And yet his wry expressions, pained looks and brief moments of triumph are funny and winning, maybe because we don't expect this Woodrow Wilson look-alike to be so lively. Drew's wife, whose name was Lucille McVey, was considerably younger, plump but pretty, and played off her husband well. This plot suits their age difference, too: all she wants to do is dance, while he just wants peace and quiet and another cigarette. Drew's weariness appears genuine, but he reveals an impish streak in his clever ploy to avoid dancing; Lucy Ricardo couldn't have done it better. There's also a nice trick shot involving the mother-in-law materializing as a ghostly image, to Mr. Drew's horror.
The dance mania theme is surely a topical joke aimed at the contemporary ballroom dancing craze, inspired by another married show biz couple, Vernon & Irene Castle. The source of the satire is now long forgotten, but FOX TROT FINESSE remains surprisingly fresh and amusing.
For a feature with a relatively simple premise, this works pretty well.
It does a good job with its satire on a contemporary fad, and delivers
some good laughs and some pretty good acting. Towards the middle, it
does start to run out of steam a bit, but it soon moves on to an
Sidney Drew plays a man whose wife's obsession with dancing is getting on his nerves to the extent that he looks for a ruse to get away from it. He and his wife certainly make a natural couple, and Drew's facial expressions and his look of being perpetually harassed make for some amusing moments. Ethel Lee also works well as Drew's grim mother-in-law. The combination is pretty entertaining overall.
Although satires and parodies based on trends of the moment often lose much of their effectiveness when the original fad passes from the scene, this is an example of how a well-made movie of the genre can remain enjoyable long afterward.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Even though this silent is way back in 1915, the Bringing Up Father
comic strip dates back even more. While this film has some obvious
parallels to the dancing Castle team, it very much parallels the comic
strip too. It assumes a more sophisticated audience than most early
silents comedy & is very successful at it.
The mother in law hen pecking in the early sequence is classic & used many times in later films. The acting here is perfect. The servants in the film very much parallel the comic strip.
This film tells a story of the husband whose wife loves to fox trot but he is tired of dancing all the time. One day at his office he looks at a newspaper & finds out about a dancer who certain broken bone prevents her from dancing. Then he fakes the injury to his wife to get out of dancing.
The wife then catches on to his fake & decides to write a letter to her mom to come back & help her with her husbands condition. She shows him the letter & amazing is ready to fax trot. It is done well, & is better detail wise & acting than many early films. The film has more plot than most of the slap stick films of the period.
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