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"Too Many Kisses" has attracted a lot of attention in recent years because Harpo Marx appears in this silent comedy. I attended a rare screening of "Too Many Kisses" in the same building where it had been filmed 70 years earlier (originally the Paramount studio in Astoria, New York, now the American Museum of the Moving Image), and a lot of Marx Brothers fans had come to AMMI from as far away as California for this brief glimpse of Harpo.
This film is quite funny. "Too Many Kisses" stars Richard Dix as the playboy son of a New York industrialist. Dix's father (Frank Currier) wants Dix to get away from his many girlfriends and buckle down to work, so Currier sends Dix to an obscure village in Spain to find samples of a rare mineral. (I'll call this mineral McGuffinite, because it's in the movie only as a plot device.) When Dix gets to Spain, he runs afoul of the local police chief, played by William Powell in an excellent performance. Powell is remembered for the suave leading roles he played in the sound era, but in silent films he was typecast as a villain. In "Too Many Kisses", Powell has a secret which he tries to keep Dix from discovering. (You'll find it out a lot sooner than Dix does.)
Harpo Marx has a VERY small role as the village idiot in this Spanish burg, who gets beatings from the local bully. Harpo makes his first appearance (in one brief close-up) about 25 minutes into the film, then he isn't seen again until much later. Harpo's physical appearance and behaviour in this silent movie are very similar to his later starring roles, except that in "Too Many Kisses" he just occasionally speaks. Harpo has TWO lines of dialogue in this film, and it's slightly jarring to see Harpo Marx talk on screen. Of course, we don't hear his voice: we see his dialogue in the silent-film intertitles. He does some unfunny comedy bits, such as trying to pour wine into his mouth while holding the flask at arm's length. Harpo *IS* funny in a later scene, when he gets revenge against the bully.
The German actor Paul Panzer, who plays Pedro in this film, had a long career as a silent-screen baddie: he played the main villain in the famous silent-film serial "The Perils of Pauline".
The funniest sequence in "Too Many Kisses" is the balcony scene, in which Dix and Powell try to woo the same señorita (with neither man aware of the other's presence). Also funny is a fight scene at the end of the film, when Dix's father shows up to find out why Dix hasn't found any McGuffinite yet. Harpo isn't in these scenes. I'm a Marx Brothers fan, but ... really, Harpo has almost nothing to do in this film. I'll score "Too Many Kisses" 7 out of 10. Think of Harpo's presence as a bonus in a film which is an excellent vehicle for its star Richard Dix.
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