This is one of about two dozen feature films directed by Harry A. Pollard, which the American Film Institute Catalog of Feature Films, in all 3 of their volumes, 1911-1920, 1921-1930 and 1931-1940, chooses to erroneously credit to comedian Harry (Snub) Pollard, who is, of course, a different person entirely. See more »
Highly Melodramatic Talkie With Beauteous Blonde Mary Nolan
Undertow is a 1930 film directed by Harry A. Pollard and it stars Johnny Mack Brown (Paul), Mary Nolan (Sally) and Robert Ellis (Jim) in a story about a girl named Sally who quickly falls in love with life guard Paul during a joyous and pleasurable day on the beach, leaving her incredibly jealous male companion in the process who isn't exactly hurried to let his girl relinquish their already third engagement. Therefore, Paul eventually talks Sally into sharing his life as a lighthouse keeper and in result the film leaps forward in time to an unhappily married Sally who is now a mother and seemingly confined from the exuberant life of lavish parties and dancing that she once knew. From here the film is exceedingly gloomy and filled with a plentiful of turn of events.
As for the quality of this low budget early talkie, the print I viewed was in relatively decent condition, though one must make mention that the films running time clocks in at a mere sixty minutes and in consequence of that short running time the story fails to ever truly develop. The jump forward in time from the beach to the lighthouse happens very rapidly, which assumably was the outcome of bad editing. Therefore, when the film is appearing to it's climax and abrupt ending, one is apparently just getting into the film. With that being said, the direction is expectedly flat for an early talkie, as well as the acting being horribly stilted and melodramatic, especially from Johnny Mack Brown who is hardly convincing during the times of heroic lifeguard or lighthouse keeper in sorrow.
Therefore, despite it's enormous flaws, Undertow most certainly has the ability to hold it's viewers attention and entertain quite pleasantly. However, this is hardly of any interest to anyone who isn't a fan of the films two biggest stars, Mary Nolan and Johnny Mack Brown. The fans of especially Mary Nolan will be greatly overjoyed in simply seeing the blonde beauty in something rather than Tod Browning's West of Zanzibar (1928) or Desert Nights (1929) with John Gilbert and her performance in all actuality is tolerable when compared to the vast majority of performances during the early talkie era, she displays an innumerable amount of range and diversity within the hour and in greater distance proves she could've been a huge star.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this