In the scene in the apartment of Lola Green, she plays a phonograph record on the Victor label but the label is the "scroll" design Victor only started using in 1925, even though the scene takes place in 1917. See more »
Played on piano and sung by Ben Lyon with the nightclub band See more »
Langdon shines in otherwise undistinguished early-talkie comedy
I'm rating this as high as I am because Harry Langdon is in it, and because he's hilarious. The common wisdom on Langdon is that his career nose-dived when he fired Frank Capra and took over the direction of his late silents himself, and that he was incapable of adjusting to sound. In an otherwise sympathetic article James Agee made the magnificently patronizing comment on Langdon that "the whole tragedy of the coming of dialogue can be epitomized in the mere thought of Harry Langdon confronted with a script." The common wisdom is wrong on all counts; there's a marvelously dark strain in Langdon's comedy that he indulged in more after Capra left, and in his earliest talkies (like this one and the flawed but marvelous "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum") he handles the tighter scripting of a talkie quite well. If he isn't as brilliant here as he was in "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp" or "The Strong Man" it's because he isn't the star; he's playing comic relief to the relatively dull Ben Lyon, who's really just recycling his role from "Hell's Angels" (and leading lady Lotti Loder is cute and charming but hardly in Jean Harlow's league as a screen presence). "A Soldier's Plaything" is hardly a great movie, and when Langdon isn't on the screen it's either overdirected by the usually more conventional Michael Curtiz (a fight between two characters on a staircase is shot from above) or simply dull. But when Langdon is on screen front and center, it's hilarious.
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