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The Nut (I) (1921)

 -  Action | Comedy | Romance  -  6 March 1921 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 130 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.


(as Ted Reed)
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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)


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

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Action | Comedy | Romance





Release Date:

6 March 1921 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

L'excentrique  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

A Step Backwards
31 December 2009 | by See all my reviews

Douglas Fairbanks had already begun his transition to more prestigious, historical costume swashbucklers, for which he is best remembered, with his previous film, "The Mark of Zorro" (1920), but, apparently, unsure as to the success of that transition, he made one last modern comedy, this film, "The Nut". Reportedly, the success of "The Mark of Zorro" and the comparable failure of "The Nut" solidified the transition. Indeed, I agree that "The Nut" is one of the lesser Fairbanks comedies I've seen; certainly, it suffers in comparison to his earlier ones, including "The Matrimaniac" (1916), "Wild and Woolly" (1917), "His Majesty, the American", "When the Clouds Roll by" (both 1919) and "The Mystery of the Leaping Fish" (1916), which are among my favorites and seem to be considered among his best by others, as well.

This is not a bad film, though; after all, Fairbanks, it seemed, was effortlessly charming and amusing, although he admitted this was one of his more lackluster performances. In this one, he plays a foolhardy inventor who is desperate to win the affections of the leading lady. There's an opening sequence where his inventions carry him out of bed, help him bathe and dress, which is similar to the use of absurd inventions for comedic effect in some of Buster Keaton's films and in some other slapstick comedies by others. This use of inventions isn't used throughout the picture, though. As with much of this film, it seems the gags and story lines are quickly dispensed with as soon as they've served their comedic purpose. Consequently, "The Nut" seems sketchy. The episodes with the stolen wax figures and the tiresome joke of having cupid and the devil as telephone operators are further demonstrations of this flaw. As Jeffrey Vance said (in the biography "Douglas Fairbanks", excerpts of which are included in the Flicker Alley booklet), "The picture is like a chaotic funhouse, filled with magical masquerades, illusions, and gimmicks of great momentary amusement. However, the material is in dire need of a cohesive plot—or at least a clear perspective—to make it truly enjoyable." Additionally, there are some funny intertitles, especially near the beginning, which directly address or talk directly to viewers; this sort of title writing had been one of the more clever aspects of Fairbanks's comedies since his teaming with Anita Loos on "His Picture in the Papers" (1916). And, there's some multiple-exposure trick photography for the "X-Ray", see-through-view of Doug climbing through a vent during the climax. Regardless, most of Fairbanks's films seem to have been better than this.

(Note: Charlie Chaplin doesn't play the Chaplin imitator here, which should be obvious to viewers familiar with Chaplin. According to Vance, Chaplin, however, did have an extra role as a passerby, minus the tramp attire, but, apparently, that scene was edited out. Mary Pickford also had an extra part as a party guest.)

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