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Judge Foster throws his daughter out because she married a circus man. She leaves her baby girl with Prof. McGargle before she dies. Years later Sally is a dancer with whom Peyton, a son of Judge Foster's friend, falls in love. When Sally is arrested McGargle proves her real parentage. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Employing his juggling expertise and visible nuances he carried into his sound pictures one can almost hear W.C. Fields voice as you read his title cards in Sally of the Sawdust. Younger, thinner and with less dissipation about him Fields plays of all things a doting parent to Sally (Carol Dempster) an orphan with a traveling circus.
Before Sally is born her well bred and off mother decides to run off with a show person against parents wishes and is disowned. With the father dead and the mother dying Poppy (Fields) agrees to return the child to her parents but then he decides to raise her himself. Together they tour and perform into her adulthood when the day of reckoning approaches, further complicated by Sally's romance with a swell and member of her grandparents polite society who disdain show people.
Directed by D.W. Griffith in the latter half of his career, Sally has a dated look for a 25 silent with many scenes hearkening back to his halcyon period a decade earlier as his famous montage style looks more like a Mack Sennett Keystone short in spots. Once again he focuses on societal hypocrisy and intolerance but it comes across hackneyed. Silent film had moved into its golden era and Griffith remained inert while Vidor, DeMille and Ingram were taking form and content to another level.
Fields is both funny and touching as he protects Sally and tries to make a living in a variety of dubious enterprises. Dempster is remarkably agile as she takes her licks in more than one scene as well as have a chameleon like look that goes from homely tomboy to deco sleek vamp. It is the energy and talent of both that carry Sally as they leave D.W. anachronistic style in the dust.
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