The story takes place in Milwaukee during the early 1900s with a bank clerk named August Schiller who is happy with both his job and his family. He is tasked with transporting $1,000 in ... See full summary »
Chick Williams, a prohibition gangster, rejoins his mob soon after being released from prison. When a policeman is murdered during a robbery, he falls under suspicion. The gangster took ... See full summary »
In September 1928, Warner Bros. Pictures purchased a majority interest in First National Pictures and from that point on, all "First National" productions were actually made under Warner Bros. control, even though the two companies continued to retain separate identities until the mid-1930's, after which time "A Warner Bros.-First National Picture" was often used. See more »
Didn't think I would like this one as much as I did. I don't really care for circus/carnival movies, although I thoroughly enjoyed "Nightmare Alley" and didn't think it could be topped. So I was pleasantly surprised by "The Barker", an earthy, sweaty character study of a troupe of traveling 'carnys'.
An even bigger surprise was the towering performance of Milton Sills, a name I had only heard in movie reference books. His portrayal of Nifty Miller, a world-weary, morally unstable carnival barker nearly knocked me to the ground, to coin a phrase. His libidinous, self-indulgent world comes to a screeching halt with the arrival of his son,Chris, played by Douglas Fairbanks,Jr. who promptly falls in love with Bimbo-With-a-Heart Dorothy Mackaill. Naturally,complications arise but the whole movie comes to life when Sills, who as a reader above mentioned, looks like a slim Walter Matthau, is on the screen.
This is a very unusual film in that it is part sound and part silent. I found it jarring to go from 'talkie'to dialogue cards without warning but I have since learned that the UCLA film Dept. has restored this 'part-talkie', and that most others of this kind have been lost entirely. In fact, The last few feet of the film were lost and a still shot has been put in its place while the sound continues. Also, unless I miss my guess, that is Herman Mankiewicz himself, who has a writer credit on this film, playing a ukelele in the trio accompanying Betty Compson in her Hawaiian dance numbers. Could be a Hollywood 'inside joke'.
This one may be tough to come by but if you get the opportunity, don't miss it.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?