Wealthy Brice Wayne enters West Point and, though he does well on the football field, angers fellow cadets with his arrogance. Disciplined by the coach he yells "To hell with the Corps!" ... See full summary »
THE SMART SET (1928) is a typical late silent era feature that M.G.M. cranked out to fulfill their quota of fifty (50) plus features a year. Even though a 'small' film it clearly shows that it was made by a major studio and has all the standard M.G.M. gloss.
THE NUTS; BlowHard and Egocentric Polo Star Thomas 'Tommy' Van Buren (William Haines) is selected to join America's Big Four championship polo team. Upon arrival he manages to put off his teammates starting with team Captain, Nelson (Jack Holt). He promptly moves in on Nelson's intended love interest Polly Durant (Alice Day) who he had met earlier in a failed pickup. Tommy also offends her Father, Mr. Durant (Hobart Bosworth), who he has replaced on the team. Story continues with his suspension from the team an act of heroism and finally redemption in the championship match against Great Britain, winning the girl. Standard stuff all around.
The main problem with the film is with its Star, matinée idol WILLIAM HAINES. His constant mugging and upstaging of his costars is more appropriate to Mack Sennett then M.G.M. He performs antics in this film that would endear him only to his Mother and only if she was addle headed. Some have commented on that his career failed because of his homosexuality. That may have been true but it was more likely his style did not translate well to the sound era. Not the era of JAMES CAGNEY, GARY COOPER, CLARK GABLE, WILLIAM POWELL, SPENCER TRACY, etc. They defined how a man was to act in sound. In fact his acting in silent films is hard to take today, especially compared to his contemporaries RONALD COLMAN, LON CHANEY, JOHN GILBERT and RAMON NOVARRO. Whos films do hold up well in the 21st Century. As hard to take as HAINES was the rather ordinary looking ALICE DAY. The rest of the cast did the best they could with what little they had to work with.
Though we gave it a relatively low rating of four (4) stars**** it is still worth a watch at least once. The print on TCM is in fairly good condition and it is interesting to see a film revolving around the sport of Polo. Which appears to be like Hockey on Horses.
ADDENDUM; Went back too this film today (04/08/09) on TCM too see if a second look would alter our opinion. No, HAINES still comes off as a 'Prissy Ham' with none of the charm he showed in SHOW PEOPLE (1928), the first of his films we had seen.
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