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Linda (1929)

 -  Drama  -  1 April 1929 (USA)
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 19 users  
Reviews: 2 user

Circumstances force a young woman to marry a much older man, although she really loves a young doctor.

Director:

(as Mrs. Wallace Reid)

Writers:

(adaptation), (novel), 3 more credits »
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Title: Linda (1929)

Linda (1929) on IMDb 7.4/10

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Dr. Paul Randall
Helen Foster ...
Linda
Noah Beery ...
Armstrong Decker
Mitchell Lewis ...
Stillwater
Kate Price ...
Nan
Allen Connor ...
Kenneth Whitmore (as Allan Connor)
Bess Flowers ...
Annette Whitmore
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Storyline

Circumstances force a young woman to marry a much older man, although she really loves a young doctor.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Release Date:

1 April 1929 (USA)  »

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Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(musical score and sound effects)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Soundtracks

Linda
(uncredited)
Words by Charles Tobias, Harry Tobias
Music by Al Sherman
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User Reviews

 
The Chicago Tribune got this one wrong
31 July 2014 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

A beautifully restored print of Dorothy Davenport's rural drama 'Linda' was shown recently as part of the Library of Congress's Mostly Lost 3 festival in Culpeper, Virginia. This late silent feature was all but unknown to most attendees, even dyed-in-the-wool buffs, yet it proved to be a highlight of the festival, the kind of movie that prompts the question "Why haven't I heard of this before?" After the screening I checked the clippings file at the Performing Arts Library in NYC for contemporary reviews, but found, to my surprise, that 'Linda' was greeted with scant enthusiasm by the few critics who bothered to mention it at all. In a review published in the Chicago Tribune in April of 1929, a critic using the name Mae Tinee expressed contempt for the film in no uncertain terms. (And in case you're wondering, "Mae Tinee" was a pseudonym for several journalists who wrote for the Tribune over the years: the name was a pun on the word "matinee," ha-ha.) The Tribune's review of 'Linda' begins with a brisk checklist describing the film, as follows:

KIND: Dilatory drama of a Good Girl.

ACTING: Too good for the story.

DIRECTION: Languid.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Good.

QUALITY: Just another movie.

The critic, whoever he or she may have been, then offers an outline of the plot in highly sarcastic language, implying that 'Linda" was nothing more than an old-fashioned, hokey backwoods melodrama of little value. And so it must have appeared in the spring of 1929, especially when we recall that by this time sound cinema was rapidly taking over the market. Most moviegoers favored the newest thing, and that meant talkies full of snappy dialog, hot jazz and dance numbers. Had 'Linda' been produced a year or so earlier it might have found a receptive audience, but unfortunately this sensitively made drama was ignored on its initial release, and quickly forgotten.

Today, however, because the film survives and has been restored, we can appreciate qualities that might not have been readily apparent when it was new. 'Linda' is set among hill people, and the early scenes may remind some viewers of Karl Brown's silent drama Stark Love. Our title character Linda Stillwater (played by Helen Foster) is a bright young woman of unspecified age, seemingly in her mid-teens, who lives in a cabin with her family. Linda helps her careworn mother tend her younger siblings, but also finds time for books, thanks to the attentions of a kindly teacher. Her father is a mean-spirited, brutal man with no steady income. When he tries to sell lumber to the owner of the local mill, Decker (Noah Beery), the latter shows no interest in the deal, but does show romantic interest in Linda. Meanwhile, Linda has fallen for the elegant, well-born doctor (Warner Baxter) who owns property in the area. When Linda's father commands her to marry the much-older Mr. Decker she is horrified at the prospect, but does so in order to keep the peace in her household, specifically to protect her mother from her father's violent temper. Eventually, Linda learns that the crude but tender-hearted Mr. Decker actually loves her, and is ultimately willing to sacrifice his life for her happiness.

The story is undeniably dated, but what makes 'Linda' special is the sensitive direction of Dorothy Davenport, a former actress best remembered as the widow of Wallace Reid. Davenport worked primarily behind the camera after her husband died, writing, producing, and directing. Her career as a director was all too brief, but, based on the evidence at hand, deserves attention. The actors she cast in 'Linda' are superb. I'd never heard of leading lady Helen Foster before seeing this film, and haven't been able to learn much about her, but she is charming and her performance is exceptional. I was startled to learn that she was 22 years old when this film was made; she is convincingly girlish, without being coy about it. Noah Beery, strongly identified with villainous roles, is remarkably sympathetic in a difficult and unusual part. (For a while I expected his character to reveal his true, dastardly nature, in typical Noah Beery fashion, but was pleasantly surprised when he turns out to be a decent guy.) Warner Baxter is fine in a part that calls for dignity, but little else. For me, the biggest revelation in the cast was Bess Flowers, legendary "Queen of the Hollywood Extras," in a featured role as the sympathetic teacher. We've all seen Flowers many times, usually for just a few moments, but in 'Linda' she's so appealing and attractive I had to wonder why she was so seldom entrusted with substantial parts. (Her height may have been a drawback; she towers over Foster in their scenes together.)

In my opinion, the one thing the Tribune's snide critic got right is that the cinematography in 'Linda' is good; only I would call it excellent. Davenport's direction might be termed "languid" in the sense that the story moves at a steady, deliberate pace suitable to the material, which increases in tempo as the story builds to a surprisingly fiery climax. "Just another movie" is precisely what I would NOT call this film, for I found 'Linda' interesting and memorable. Perhaps our temporal distance from the material has lent it more value; we have historical perspective that contemporary viewers lacked. In any case, I feel this is a rewarding film that demands re-evaluation.


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