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A Regular Girl (1919)

 -  Comedy  -  10 November 1919 (USA)
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A wealthy young woman, unfulfilled in life, volunteers to work in the overseas war effort. But when she returns from the war, she finds her old life still holds little meaning for her. She ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Elsie Janis ...
Elizabeth Schuyler
L. Rogers Lytton ...
Her Father (as Robert Lyton)
Matt Moore ...
Robert King
Robert Ayerton ...
Butler
Tammany Young ...
Mac
Ernie Adams ...
Shorty
Jerry Delaney ...
Slim
Frank Murdock ...
Red
Jeffreys Lewis ...
Mrs. Murphy (as Mrs. Jeffreys Lewis)
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Storyline

A wealthy young woman, unfulfilled in life, volunteers to work in the overseas war effort. But when she returns from the war, she finds her old life still holds little meaning for her. She rounds up all young soldiers she knew in the war and with them sets out to make a better world for them and for others less fortunate. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

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Genres:

Comedy

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Release Date:

10 November 1919 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Everybody's Sweetheart  »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

 
The regiment's darling
23 April 2003 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

Elsie Janis was a child star in vaudeville: extremely talented and vivacious, she sang and danced and told jokes with equal facility. During the Great War (by now in her late twenties) she performed for the troops very close to the front lines. She appeared in a few of the very early Vitaphone talking-film shorts, then turned her talents away from performing to work as a scriptwriter for Cecil B. DeMille. Elsie Janis was not conventionally beautiful -- she had a slightly comic face, and her figure was not especially voluptuous -- but I find her extremely attractive. She's distinctive-looking (in a pleasant way) and her energy and her ingratiating personality are distinct assets. She probably could have had a successful film career playing roles similar to Marion Davies, in romantic comedies.

"A Regular Girl" severely stints Elsie Janis's gift for comedy by casting her in a role that is almost entirely serious. She plays society girl Elizabeth Schuyler, daughter of a prominent financier and engaged to respectable Robert King. (Played by handsome Matt Moore, who was usually cast in more downmarket roles.) Stirred by patriotism during the War, Elizabeth works as a field nurse in France and is immediately popular with the doughboys in her assigned unit: specifically, four 'devil dogs' named Mac, Shorty, Slim and Red. (It's implausible that an overworked field nurse would spend so much time on just four soldiers, but what the heck.) Because Elizabeth doesn't put on airs, her doughboys don't realise she's a society 'swell'.

After the Armistice, Elizabeth comes home, but she is permanently changed. She is less frivolous, and has a higher sense of purpose. Her doughboys are now 'forgotten men', who came home to discover that their civilian jobs have been taken by other men who stayed home.

SPOILERS COMING. Knowing that her lads are too proud to accept help from a 'rich dame', Elizabeth takes the guise of a housemaid named 'Lizzie' while using her family's influence to find jobs and stability for Mac, Shorty, Slim and Red. Her snobbish boyfriend Robert, who has waited for her through the war, is put off by Elizabeth's continued devotion to these four scruffy men who no longer serve a useful purpose. But gradually Robert is won over by Elizabeth's good works. A happy ending is had by all.

Elsie Janis is excellent in a role which showcases her own real-life patriotism but which gives her few opportunities to display her comic talents or her dancing ability. Tammany Young, a distinctive actor best remembered as a stooge for W.C. Fields, is fine here as Mac, and the obscure actor Robert Ayerton is impressive as the Schuyler household's butler. But the film is poorly paced, and predictable. I'll rate this movie only 4 points out of 10. I'd like to rate it more highly, because it made a worthy attempt to remind civilians that the homefront has an obligation to the troops. That was an important message in 1919, and it still is ... now, more than ever.


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