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The Nut (I) (1921)

 -  Action | Comedy | Romance  -  6 March 1921 (USA)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 137 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 1 critic

Eccentric inventor Charlie Jackson tries to interest wealthy investors in his girlfriend's plan to help children from poor neighborhoods.

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(as Ted Reed)
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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Charlie Jackson
...
Estrell Wynn
William Lowery ...
Philip Feeney
Gerald Pring ...
Gentleman George
Morris Hughes ...
Pernelius Vanderbrook Jr
...
Claudine Dupree
Sidney De Gray ...
(as Sydney dé Grey)
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Storyline

Eccentric inventor Charlie Jackson tries to interest wealthy investors in his girlfriend's plan to help children from poor neighborhoods.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Action | Comedy | Romance

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Details

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Release Date:

6 March 1921 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

L'excentrique  »

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Technical Specs

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(DVD)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Trivia

Despite the claims for decades, Charlie Chaplin does not appear as his Little Tramp character in "The Nut." This was debunked by film historian Jeffrey Vance in his 2008 book "Douglas Fairbanks." Vance writes, "It is clearly a Chaplin imitator, not Chaplin himself, who appears briefly in the party sequence wearing the Tramp costume." See more »

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User Reviews

 
Doug makes like a silent movie comedian, one last time
31 May 2005 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

This lightweight vehicle served as the last comedy Douglas Fairbanks would produce before turning exclusively to swashbuckler roles. Viewers familiar with Doug as Zorro or D'Artagnan may be surprised to find him in a contemporary farce, playing the sort of zany young millionaire we associate more with Harold Lloyd or Buster Keaton. And indeed, the opening sequence of this movie is right out of a Keaton two-reeler, as Doug, playing wealthy inventor Charlie Jackson, goes through his morning ritual of awakening, bathing, and dressing with the help of several bizarre gadgets of his own devising. This is pure silent comedy and a great intro, amusingly summed up with a title reading: "Maybe necessity is the mother of invention-- but the father of these is a nut." And Charlie Jackson is definitely eccentric and woefully accident-prone, but basically good-hearted. The object of Charlie's affection is Estrell, a well-intentioned young lady of means who has taken an interest in slum children. Estrell believes that taking poor kids into "refined" homes for an hour or two of play each day will make them better citizens. (The filmmakers express reservations about Estrell's theory in a mildly sarcastic title card, but however naive she may be we're given to understand that Estrell, like Charlie, is on the side of the angels.) The plot revolves around Charlie's increasingly desperate attempts to interest wealthy patrons in Estrell's idea, while also thwarting the attentions of a villainous gambler who feigns interest in order to have his way with the girl.

There are a number of comic high points, including a Keatonesque moment when Doug, who has lost his clothes in public and is stripped down to his underwear, manages to cover himself with a "suit" sliced out of a billboard advertising a men's clothing store. There are also some funny moments involving wax dummies stolen from a museum, a suspenseful sequence in which Doug crawls through the pipes of a building's heating system, and a laugh-out-loud funny gag during a fistfight in the lobby of a movie theater. But perhaps the most memorable bit is one that occurs during a party sequence, early on. Doug gives a performance for his guests which consists of ducking behind a screen and re-emerging dressed as various famous historical personalities such as Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln, General Grant, etc. Actually the stunt is a put-on, and this is revealed when the screen is accidentally knocked over and we see several startled actors standing by, already in costume for their roles. But there's one we haven't seen before, a Charlie Chaplin impersonator who goes into a brief imitation of the comedian before he is hustled off the stage. Apparently this "impersonator" was played by Chaplin himself (a close friend of Doug's off-camera), who was careful to dress himself in a Tramp outfit that doesn't look quite right, complete with mustache that isn't quite the right shape. At least one film historian has questioned whether this really is Chaplin, but after viewing the scene several times I believe that it is indeed he, and that the cameo stands as a genuinely clever inside joke. Doug's real-life wife Mary Pickford also makes a brief cameo appearance as a party guest during this sequence.

Over all I'd say that THE NUT is a pleasant and amusing light comedy, well worthwhile for silent comedy buffs. For me, the only drawback is the personality of Doug's character: with his combination of high enthusiasm and ineptitude, Charlie Jackson gets a little exasperating after awhile, and somehow requires more patience from the viewer than similar characters played by Keaton or Lloyd. Nevertheless, he redeems himself in the finale, ties up all the loose plot strands, and leaves us satisfied at the fade-out. What more can we ask of a movie hero?


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