The perils of hooch
D.W. Griffith's final film is a talkie remake of a silent short made early in his career. It's a morality play about a man's struggle with alcoholism. Interesting subject matter, ahead of its time in some ways, but probably not the kind of thing Depression-era audiences were looking to see to escape from their troubles. Today, it's a real creaker but has a lot to recommend about it. Hal Skelly, who had a short film career before dying in a tragic car/train collision in 1934, gives an impressive performance in the lead. Zita Johann, a year away from her biggest movie role in The Mummy, makes her film debut here. She gives a subtle turn as the put-upon wife (the last of Griffith's heroines who have it rough because of the crappy men in their life). Edna Hagan, who plays Skelly and Johann's daughter, is also really good. It's a fine movie, although not without its flaws. The ending is the biggest negative, in my opinion. I can overlook the creaks and groans but I don't care for happy endings when they feel unearned. Everything in the film up to that point screamed tragedy. It just felt like a cop-out.
- Jul 27, 2017
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