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The Mollycoddle (1920)

An American who has lived much of his life outside the country returns to Arizona for the first time in years and encounters villainy.

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Writers:

(scenario editor), (story) (as Harold MacGrath)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Richard Marshall III / Richard Marshall IV / Richard Marshall V
Ruth Renick ...
Virginia Hale
...
Henry von Holkar
Paul Burns ...
Samuel Levinski
Morris Hughes ...
Patrick O'Flannigan
...
Ole Olsen
...
Yellow Horse
Lewis Hippe ...
First Mate
Betty Bouton ...
Mollie Warren
Adele Farrington ...
Mrs. Warren
Albert MacQuarrie ...
Driver of the Desert Yacht
Freddie Hawk ...
Girl Hobo
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Storyline

What's the difference between a primitive (such as Hopi Indians or Richard Marshall the Fifth's two-fisted pioneer ancestors) and a sophisticate (in this case Richard Marshall V, raised in Monte Carlo playing polo in spats and a monocle)? Richard meets up with some Americans abroad who can't believe he's an American too. He's invited to sail with them to Galveston and then head for Hopi land in Arizona. Little does Richard know that he's stumbled onto a diamond-smuggling operation, that one of the yachting party is in the secret service on the trail of Van Holkar, their host, and that soon all of Richard's instinctual mettle will be tested, mettle he didn't know he had. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Release Date:

13 June 1920 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Anyámasszony katonája  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(color toned)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Harold McGrath's story was first serialized in "The Saturday Evening Post". See more »

Crazy Credits

"FOREWORD: Our thanks are gratefully expressed to government officials, tribal chiefs, and to the hundreds of picturesque Hopi Indians on their reservation near the Painted Desert of Arizona, who, in their savage way heartily welcomed us to their prehistoric villages and with primitive cheerfulness played an important part in this picture." See more »

Connections

Followed by The Saphead (1920) See more »

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User Reviews

 
"the glorious thrill and tingle"
20 January 2010 | by (Ruritania) – See all my reviews

Douglas Fairbanks is one of those legendary figures of cinema. Even today, seventy years after his death, his name is still vaguely alive in the public consciousness. Naturally he is remembered mainly for the series of extraordinary swashbuckling adventures he appeared in throughout the 1920s. It is less well known that he started his screen career in comedy, and it was as a comic that he made his name. The Mollycoddle is among his last comedy pictures, and also among the better ones.

Fairbanks's comedies were not a million miles from his swashbucklers. His comic niche was always the combination of humour with breathtaking athleticism. The Mollycoddle is particularly reminiscent of the adventure flicks, because like Zorro, Robin Hood and the Thief of Bagdad, the character goes through an arc of self-discovery whereby he finds his he-man persona. The aim of The Mollycoddle is still clearly as much to thrill as it is to get laughs. And the rather oddball sense of Fairbanks humour would carry through into his later pictures, although it's only pictures like this that we see it in its fully unbridled state, a cracking example being the foreigner's conception of America as cowboys shooting each other up amidst skyscrapers.

You see, as well as possessing an impressive physique, Fairbanks was a genuine funny-bones comedian. You can tell he is having great fun portraying the idle twerp that his character begins as, hamming up the stereotype for all it is worth. Even when the eponymous Mollycoddle starts to grow a bit of backbone, Fairbanks is sensible enough (and a good enough comic) to keep something of the twit about him, blending action with gags as he later would in his swashbucklers.

A notable fact about the Mollycoddle is that it happens to be the directorial debut of one Victor Fleming, of Gone with the Wind and the Wizard of Oz fame. Fleming was a pal of Fairbanks, both of them being rough and rugged outdoorsmen, and the star liked to have someone he could relate behind the camera. The young director shows his lack of experience, with some of the busier shot compositions being a bit haphazard, but what he lacks in finesse he makes up for in intention. A former racing driver, he was a man in love with speed, and he keeps up a solid pace in action sequences, often with continuous movement in each shot. Here and there he grabs our attention by having a key movement go towards the camera.

It's perhaps tempting to look for failings in Fairbanks's comedies, as if we might find some clue as to why his career changed direction. But the truth is, while none of his comedies is on a par with the best of his adventures, there is nothing really wrong with them. They were hugely successful in their day, and Fairbanks was a big star even before he began sporting capes and rapiers. It appears that making swashbucklers was simply something he wanted to do, or even something he felt was the next logical step. The Mollycoddle is in that sense a missing (or at least widely forgotten) link, showing us how Doug the swashbuckler was the natural extension of Doug the comic.


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