Back in 1929, some films were still being made in the States that were silents. As for the talking pictures, they were a primitive lot. While the studios were quickly switching over to sound, they still didn't quite understand how to use sound and many of these early films are pretty dreadful when you see them today. However, while "Mr. Antonio" is no great film, for 1929 it's quite good and holds up today.
The film begins in New York. Some poor schmuck (Frank Reicher) has just come out of a bar--drunk, disoriented and taken for everything he has. A nice traveling hurdy gurdy player, Tony (Leo Carrillo), comes to the stranger's aid and they become friends.
Some time passes. The poor schmuck turns out to be the mayor of an extremely conservative and judgmental town--and they have no idea about his escapade in New York. He is loved in this place because he's a sanctimonious jerk in a town filled with sanctimonious jerks. Obviously the guy is a hypocrite because when he finds out that his ward stopped by a roadhouse and she was seen by the townsfolk, he disowns her-- even though she really didn't do anything other than go there to dance. The girl (Virginia Valli) is now homeless and guess who she meets on the road---Tony. And when Tony learns what the mayor did to her, he decides to visit this town and see his old friend!
This is a humorous little film that also has a point to make about hypocrisy and moral superiority. It's very watchable--even if Carrillo does seem to over-act just a bit. Plus, even with the overacting, he is quite entertaining.
By the way, if you do see the film, look closely at the character Joe, don't you think he looks a lot like Paul McCartney?!
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