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Head Over Heels (1922)

 -  Comedy  -  April 1922 (USA)
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Three men become involved in a young woman's life for very different reasons.

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Title: Head Over Heels (1922)

Head Over Heels (1922) on IMDb 6.2/10

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Cast overview:
Hugh Thompson ...
Russ Powell ...
Papa Bambinetti
Raymond Hatton ...
Edith Penfield
Lionel Belmore ...
Al Wilkins


Three men become involved in a young woman's life for very different reasons.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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theater | See All (1) »







Release Date:

April 1922 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Paa slap Line  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Completed in 1920, but not released until 1922. See more »

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User Reviews

Mabel's back in a charming, feature-length comedy
5 November 2006 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

We're lucky we can see this film, nowadays. For many years Head Over Heels was believed to be lost, along with most of the sixteen feature- length comedies Mabel Normand made for producer Sam Goldwyn between 1918 and 1920. Just a few years ago the sole surviving print mysteriously resurfaced in the basement of a home in Massachusetts. It seems that a family had moved into this house in the early 1960s and found the place completely stripped except for five tins of 35mm nitrate film. Unfortunately no one thought to turn the material over to a museum or film archive, and it sat in the house for some forty years. But then the home was put up for sale and a member of the family offered the footage to the American Film Institute. The movie was in remarkably good shape except for some footage at the end of the last reel which was badly decomposed and had to be discarded. But the surviving material was restored for screenings, and has been shown at various theaters across the country. This unlikely "recovery" hasn't received as much attention as the unexpected rescue of the Gloria Swanson-Rudolph Valentino romance Beyond the Rocks, but it is nonetheless a great find for silent movie fans.

Happily, Head Over Heels is a real treat, a lighthearted romantic comedy with satirical touches and occasional bursts of slapstick. Mabel makes an endearing leading lady, and gives a more nuanced performance than we find in her early, rowdy Keystone comedies. Here she plays an Italian acrobat named Tina Bambinetti, signed to work in America by a womanizing talent scout played by Adolphe Menjou. (Fans of this elegant actor may be surprised to find that his appearance hardly changed at all throughout his entire film career.) When Tina arrives in the U.S. much of the comedy is initially at her expense: she and her father are presented as a couple of naive greenhorns just off the boat, oddly dressed and clearly at a disadvantage in the New World. Their dialog is full of awkward phrases and malaprops, and we soon learn that Tina lacks certain social graces. Forced to cool her heels in an office waiting room Tina loses her temper and trashes the place, terrorizing the secretaries but making an impression on Menjou's partner Lawson, played by an actor named Hugh Thompson. As the story moves along Menjou's character becomes less important, which is too bad because he's got a lot more charisma than the stodgy Mr. Thompson.

At any rate, a hard-driving publicity man named Pepper gets involved and plants the idea of a new career for Tina as a movie star, and to this end he introduces her to a shady film producer named Wilkins. (Pepper and Wilkins are played by two prolific character actors familiar to film buffs, Raymond Hatton and Lionel Belmore.) Tina becomes accustomed to American ways and her rough edges are gradually smoothed out. In the movie's latter portion the focus is on Tina's growing romantic involvement with Lawson and the impact her potential stardom might have on their relationship. Along the way there are two highly amusing comic set-pieces, first when Tina, still a greenhorn in goofy clothes with her hair in pigtails, is taken to get a make-over at a beauty salon run by a formidable-looking, scissor-wielding matron. Later, Tina ponders the possibility of movie stardom and fantasizes herself as a "Vamper" (i.e. a Theda Bara-style seductress, or Vampire) in a hilariously over-the-top sequence that marks the film's comic high-point. Mabel looks like she's having a great time in this bit, slinking around in a sexy outfit and smoking a cigarette in a long holder.

This is a movie every silent comedy buff is likely to enjoy. My only real criticism (aside from the dull leading man) is that a couple of scenes rely too heavily on title cards-- with silent films, as a rule, the fewer titles the better --but they also happen to be pretty funny for the most part. It's certainly too bad the ending is missing: the surviving print of Head Over Heels ends abruptly in mid-scene, before the story has been resolved, although a newly-added closing title fills in the rest of the plot. Still, not so long ago this film was thought to be lost entirely, so we can only be grateful that most of this charming comedy has returned from Cinematic Limbo for us to savor.

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