Remote Control (1929). Drama. Directed and co-written by Clyde North. Co-written by Albert C. Fuller and Jack T. Nelson. 48th Street Theatre: 10 Sep 1929- Nov 1929 (79 performances). Cast: Dave Abrams, Patricia Barclay, Louise Barrett, Frank Beaston, Audrey Berry, Hobart Cavanaugh, Polly Clarke, Alice Davenport, Consuelo Flowerton, William Foran, William Honohan, Raleigh Kennedy, Donald Kirke, George Leach, Mimi Lehman, Lawrence Leslie, George Lessey (as "W.L. Oakwood"), Michael Markham, James V. Nolan, Claire Nolte, Al Ochs (as "Professor Murrey"), Arthur Pierson, Edward Van Sloan (as "Doctor A.P. Workman"), Harold Woolf. Produced by A.L. Jones and Morris Green. Note: Produced as a William Haines vehicle by MGM as Remote Control (1930) (released 15 Nov 1930). The characters' names were altered completely for the film and re-written as a comedy. See more »
William Haines made an easy transition to sound, and his voice provided added dimension to his wisecracking on-screen character. In 1930's "Remote Control," Haines plays Bill Brennan, the brash over-confident manager of a radio station in need of a bailout. In what would today be regarded as sexual harassment, Brennan ardently pursues a female station employee, played by Mary Doran. The Haines-Doran match is an unlikely affair, either on or off screen, and, in any case, Doran is infatuated with a suave phony psychic, played by the greasy John Miljan. Hired by Brennan to provide on-air advice from the great beyond, Miljan instead broadcasts instructions to his gang of thieves thinly disguised as messages from the spirits.
Although still handsome, youthful, and full of energy, Haines was nearing the end of his career with "Remote Control," and he would retire only four years later. Haines fans will delight in his often-childish facial expressions and campy performance; non-fans may be less enthusiastic. However, neither fans nor non-fans will find this to be his best work or his best film. After a light breezy start, the plot veers into a grade-B crime flick, while Haines ignores the turn and sticks his tongue out at gangsters. Despite the efforts of three credited directors, this early talkie is typically stiff and stagy; the camera fluidity that reached a zenith in the late silent era has been lost to the demands of sound recording. While "Remote Control" is essential viewing for admirers of William Haines, the film may be a tough slog for others.
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