I've just come from the American Museum of the Moving Image where the New York re-premiere of this 1927 John Ford film took place with great pomp and circumstance. Donald Sosin led a fine orchestra of four and a singer to cover this short (64 minutes at an announced 21 fps) feature with one of his typically well researched and executed scores.
Unfortunately, despite the high hopes of the small but eager audience, we saw an ordinary programmer without much evidence of individual style or art. Earle Fox is consistently annoying as the talentless scion of a distinguished acting family who gets the big break on his name and never shows a moment of gratitude or humility. Grant Withers and Nancy Nash are competent as the young couple. The real star turns are in support -- which is typical of Ford, I suppose; Ted McNamara and Sammy Cohen as 'Callahan and Callahan', dancing and snappy patter; but mostly Emile Chautard who gets to chew the scenery as the down-on-his-luck thespian who coaches Fox; and even more so, Raymond Hitchcock, who shows us, at the beginning of the second act, why he was such a big star on Broadway for years.
However, despite these grace notes, there isn't much of anything in the story or realization to point to any particular director, and it never rises much above the ordinary. I'm very glad to have seen it, as it's another John Ford movie to cross off my list, but once you've done the same, it's not going to be one you return to.
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