An unimpressive but well intending man is given the chance to marry a popular actress, of whom he has been a hopeless fan. But what he doesn't realize is that he is being used to make the actress' old flame jealous.
Elmer is a dry cleaner. He is madly in love with stage star Trilby Drew; for each of her 35 performances, he dons someone else's tuxedo and races to the theatre. When Trilby's co-star boyfriend gets engaged to a socialite, she marries Elmer to get even, assuming Elmer is a millionaire (since his clothes are so snazzy.) But she's clearly still in love with her scoundrelous co-star, and her manager makes her leave Elmer, trying to pay him off so the papers don't hear about her marriage to a "cheap pants presser." Can Elmer win her love? Maybe a sea voyage will help. Written by
Buster Keaton wanted this film to be a full talkie, but MGM released it with only a musical score and sound effects. See more »
In the dressing-room scene while attempting to trim the hair for his false beard, Elmer accidentally severs the left-hand shoulder strap of his vest and has no time to repair it. When we see him hurriedly changing back into his smart clothes after the performance, both straps are still whole. See more »
This isn't bad at all, as long as you don't hold it up to the standard that Keaton set in the features he made on his own. It has some very good sequences that make up for the more routine stretches, and it shows enough of Buster's comic genius to be worthwhile. Even when the gags are not especially creative, he gets as much mileage out of them as anyone could have.
The premise of the "Spite Marriage" is rather flimsy at best, and in other hands it probably would not have been even this good. It actually starts out pretty well, as the first part moves at a good pace, and includes a very good sequence with Buster's hapless character trying to take part in a play. It begins to peter out in the middle, though, as the premise begins to wear thin. For some reason, the bedroom sequence from this portion seems to be the best-remembered portion of the movie, but it really isn't one of the better parts of the film at all. But things pick up again in the last part, when the story takes a couple of unexpected turns, and the comedy also improves.
To be sure, it is a shame that Keaton was forced into the studio mold in pictures like this. It worked for many, but not for a unique talent like Buster. Still, at least this time the result is a generally entertaining movie with more than enough laughs to make it worth watching for anyone who enjoys silent comedies.
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