A New York magnate and his wife are upset that their daughter Muriel intends to enter a beauty pageant in Ocean Beach; "What will the Vanderbilts think?," they lament. The wife hires "Fearless," a man who says he'll do anything for $1000, to find a way to keep Muriel from entering the contest. "Fearless" turns out to be a rather clumsy and unprepossessing man whom Muriel meets on the train to Ocean Beach. Not knowing who she is, he tells her all about the job he's on. Later, when the contest is about to start, he sees her again and asks her help in keeping the elusive Ms. Evans out of the contest. Muriel is happy to help. Will "Fearless" succeed? And what about the $1,000? Written by
This 20 minute short B/W slapstick comedy featuring Charlie Chase and typical of its period (1932), was revived recently on TCM to fill the gap left when a 93 minute film was allotted a 2 hour time-slot. Charlie was extremely prolific from the time of the first world war until his death in 1940. IMDb lists an almost incredible number of films which he wrote, produced or directed, in addition to over 250 in which he acted; sometimes (as in Tilly's Punctured Romance and Sons of the Desert) with top stars such as Charlie Chaplin or Laurel and Hardy. Probably because his best roles came only in shorts produced after the end of silent era, he never achieved the same public recognition as comedians who rose to the top before talkies were introduced; and it is not easy to purchase copies of any of his films today (although at least two DVD collections released through Kino incorporate some of his work). TCM deserve our thanks when they provide valuable opportunities to see such almost unknown films today. Perhaps we can also ask them to revive Old Ironsides (1926) so that we can all appreciate the irony in the title of this film! Whilst in general I am not a lover of slapstick comedy I certainly enjoyed watching this film - but my main reason for submitting these User Comments is to discuss the problem of how a viewer should approach the problem of rating a film of this type. It is analogous to the problem of rating places for eating out. To apply the same evaluation scale to an epicurean restaurant, a businessmen's lunch place, a family restaurant or a late evening snack bar makes very little sense. All have a role to play but it seems reasonable to recognise that the modest inexpensive establishment should not be eligible for as high a rating as the epicurean restaurant. On the other hand because one may expect to spend $100 at an epicurean restaurant and no more than $10 in a snack bar, it is unreasonable to suggest that whilst the former should be rated on a scale of 1-10, the latter is not eligible for more than 1. To provide useful guidance for readers looking for the best snack bar would require these to be rated at least on a scale of say 1-6.
With IMDb movie ratings, my rule of thumb is to restrict ratings of more than 7 to major films which would normally have an experienced cast, an extended production schedule and a relatively generous budget. This means that lesser films will very seldom be rated at more than 6 (near perfection for a film of its type). I would always down-rate very short films, films with anti-social elements (this is very hard to assess without becoming censorious, which must always be avoided), films created in digital form that cannot be adequately converted for large screen viewing, films that are clearly exploitive, and films with historical, scientific or documentary inaccuracies that are presented as factual depictions. These principles seem to me to be basic absolutes. Beyond this the film-script, the direction, the acting, the wardrobe and sets, the cinematography and the soundtrack all have to be assessed, but these are all areas where personal judgments come in and wide discrepancies will arise between one viewer and the next. When all these considerations are applied to Young Ironsides I find myself judging it against a potential maximum rating of seven and I am giving it an IMDb rating of four - fully recognising that someone following the same procedure who enjoys slapstick comedy much more than I do would probably rate it at five or six. When I compare this with its current IMDb user rating of 7.1 (based on 23 ratings), it seems clear that most reviewers do not accept my approach of setting a ceiling for the rating that is appropriate for all but the most ambitious productions, and I must also recognise that I have not always followed the principles I have attempted to outline here when I have been particularly impressed by some relatively minor film. But if we rate all films by the same criteria, 20 minute shorts should be as eligible for Oscars as major studio productions. Is this what we want?
Are these comments helpful and can we please have some more users discussing how they deal with these problems?
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