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6/10
Doesn't Live Up to the Hype
23 October 2019
For decades this film was unavailable due to rights issues, but Capitolfest screened it in 2019. Because of the build-up over time, the reality is disappointing, but it is an entertaining film overall.

Three showgirls fill the various types: Sally (Constance Bennett) is cool and confident, Irene (Joan Crawford) is sincere and virtuous (I know), and Mary (Sally O'Neil) is flighty and young. Mary is the newest member of the troupe and toggles between her old life and her flame with beau Jimmy (William Haines) and her new prospects with Sally's wealthy keeper. It all builds to a reasonably exciting climax (featuring dubious special effects). Although this is a movie about dancers, relatively few of the scenes take place on stage. Instead we are treated to scenes at lavish parties in Sally's deco apartment, complete with an ornate butterfly decal on her bedroom wall, and scenes backstage.

It is funny that O'Neil was cast in the role as the fresh desirable dancer because she is the least-known today, and certainly less beautiful than Bennett and Crawford. I suppose her antsy personality better embodies the "modern" flapper type, but her type quickly went out of fashion and ushered in a new standard of beauty.
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5/10
Loses Steam, Overly Long
22 October 2019
A century ago on February 5, United Artists, a studio devoted to empowering filmmakers to make artistic films, was founded. Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, D.W. Griffith, and Mary Pickford agreed to finance their own films and distribute them. It served to prevent the merger of the top studio conglomerates in their attempt to control booking and exhibition. Newspapers reported that, "The inmates have taken over the asylum." In truth, it was the culmination of power that these big celebrities had been building for years through their favorable reputations with the public. This translated into big box office and rising salaries which they shrewdly negotiated, proving their business acumen. HIS MAJESTY, THE AMERICAN was the first film released by UA. Only Fairbanks was available to make a film for the new company, because the others still owed films to their former studios under their contracts.

HIS MAJESTY, THE AMERICAN opens with Fairbanks greeting the audience directly, saying "Gee whiz, I hope you'll like it!" It is very similar in plot to a stage play he appeared in in 1912 called HAWTHORNE OF THE USA. Bill Brooks is a kidnapped prince, unaware of his royal status, who was raised in luxury in America. He does whatever his heart desires, which has him popping around to various locations. Art director Max Parker was kept busy with the many sets. Fairbanks saves a family from a burning tenement building, tangles with spies in a scene with a cut-away set exposing six rooms and the criminal activities within, and lights a cigarette on the hot ground in Mexico where he has a run-in with Pancho Villa.

HIS MAJESTY, THE AMERICAN is 8 reels, longer than most films released at that time, and lengthier than any other Fairbanks film to date. It was originally even longer before an elaborate nightmare sequence was cut, later to be used in the next Fairbanks movie WHEN THE CLOUDS ROLL BY. (It utilized a revolving room trick that allowed Fred Astaire to dance on the ceiling in ROYAL WEDDING decades later.)

Fairbanks encouraged his co-writer and director Joseph Henabery to write a story that would depict President Wilson's League of Nations idea in a favorable light. The government wanted each of the Fourteen Points included. "The danger was that propaganda could easily overburden the story, unless great care was taken to weave it in subtly," Henabery wrote in his memoirs. It took eight weeks to write and receive approval from Uncle Sam. Unfortunately for the government, much of the political propaganda ended up on the cutting room floor because the Senate voted down America's involvement in the League of Nations before the film was released.

Henabery and cameraman Victor Fleming had only recently returned from WWI when it went into production. Henabery had directed Fairbanks in two features previously, SAY! YOUNG FELLOW and THE MAN FROM PAINTED POST, and had worked as an actor under Griffith before he became a director. Three separate crews worked simultaneously at the Douglas Fairbanks Studios on the W. H. Clune lot, with Henabery directing the first, Arthur Rosen the second and Fleming the third. Shooting completed in August and editing pushed the release date to September 1st.

Albert von Tilzer wrote a song with the same title as the film and advertised it in conjunction with the release, but the song was not written for the film.

This movie was heavily booked even with theaters in close proximity of each other. In New York City, all the Fox and Loews theaters booked HIS MAJESTY, THE AMERICAN. Producer Messmore Kendall chose this film to open the Capitol Theater in New York. The event attracted a packed house filling 4,700 seats on October 24, 1919.

Staff at the Odeon Theater in Hardin, Missouri reported to "Exhibitor's Herald," "Played this picture to capacity house, and everyone more than pleased. Ministers who witnessed it gave their hearty endorsement. It is in class 'A'."

Henabery said, "My feeling about that thing was always that it was a bunch of hash."

Harry Dunn Cabot, movie reviewer for "Picture-Play Magazine" wrote, "The plot is frequently lost, strayed, or stolen, but nobody cares, because its hero has such a good time doing his favorite stunts. It will not make new recruits to the Fairbanks' forces, but it will gain anew the admiration of the old ones."

S.A. Hayman of the Lyda Theater in Grand Island, Nebraska wrote, "If all United Artists productions are as good as this one, my hat is in the ring."

"The polish and confidence of the Fairbanks comedies reached its peak with the release of HIS MAJESTY, THE AMERICAN," Jeanine Basinger wrote in Silent Stars. "It's a perfect title for the Fairbanks franchise: the elevation of an ordinary American go-get-em guy to royal status."

This film was screened at Cinevent in 2019.
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6/10
Broad Comedy
22 October 2019
Behind the Front is inspired by a Saturday Evening Post story called "The Spoils of War" by Hugh Wiley.

A dull policeman (Wallace Beery) gets his watch swiped by a pickpocket (Raymond Hatton) who takes refuge in the mansion of wealthy Betty Bartlett-Cooper (Mary Brian). She wants to join the war effort, but her father won't let her unless she can recruit twenty-five men in one day. She needs two more, so when the crook arrives, she hides him while she convinces his pursuer to join up, and then while he's signing paperwork she seduces the thief to do the same. Fast forward to shove-off, and the crook and policeman become fast friends unbeknownst to the other they've already met.

The film focuses much more on the gags than the story or military authenticity. Laurel and Hardy used some of the jokes in Pack Up Your Troubles. The comedy is broad, sometimes old hat, and often ridiculous.

Stories about what an awful person Beery was are legendary. Gloria Swanson wrote that he forced himself on her on their wedding night and then tricked her into having an abortion she didn't want. Child actor Jackie Cooper reported being bullied on their (how many) films together. Rumors abounded after Ted Healy died following a fight with Beery in the Trocadero when he was out celebrating the birth of his son. Still, it is impossible to deny his magnetism on screen, no small feat for a bulldog of a man, squat and mean and dumb-looking.

Photoplay's reviewer said, "Wallace Beery and Raymond Hatton are, without doubt, the funniest team that has ever depicted life in the trenches. Their humor is inimitable, and if we don't see more of this splendid team, then all is lost." Luckily for him, there were three more pairings in We're in the Navy Now, Fireman, Save My Child and Now We're in the Air. Sutherland directed all but the last one.

Ralph Spence was a wizard at title writing, and could re-arrange a bad film and write clever titles to completely alter the story. By the mid-1920s, audiences had become experts at lip-reading, and wouldn't easily accept titles that didn't match the actor's lips. Beery was notorious for using a menagerie of four-letter words. Director Eddie Sutherland was "very anxious to use Spence on his first big success, Behind the Front," according to Kevin Brownlow's The Parade's Gone By. Sutherland sat with Spence while he ran the film on a Moviola and Spence asked him what he was trying to convey in a scene. "Something to show the danger that they're going into, and that they don't like it much, I guess," he said. Spence wrote the title, "Listening post-where men are men, but wish they weren't." His talents are on full display here; the titles provide a great deal of comedy in addition to the slapstick-type humor on screen. For example, when the troops arrive in France we read ... and then are greeted with images of the newly enlisted men slogging through the mud and unloading the ... (bus, train?)

Mary Brian was named one of thirteen Wampas Baby Stars that year, an advertising contest that identified budding starlets, whose roster also included Mary Astor, Joan Crawford, Janet Gaynor and Fay Wray in 1926.

Richard Arlen was a real WWI army air force veteran, having lied about his age and enlisting in The Great War at age 17. "My time in service was one of the most satisfying experiences of my youth," he said in his memoirs. "I learned so much and appreciated the patience of the corps." He was not happy about being cast in this film, but during a break one day at the studio a couple of old friends in the prop and electrical departments approached him about doing a test for Wings, which cemented his place in film history.

Chester Conklin and Tom Kennedy appear, old friends from Sutherland's days as a Keystone Kop.

According to Motion Picture News, the Sterling Theatre in Greeley, Colorado put on a big show to promote the film. A week prior to the screening, two actors in ill-fitting military garb paraded across the stage with a banner announcing the title as a live-action trailer. Then, each night of a screening, the actors marched with Bugle and Drum Corps of the National Guard along the street of the theater.

H.C. Porter of the Dreamland Theater in New Albany, Mississippi said, "It is absolutely the best comedy I ever saw."

R. J. Relf of the Star Theatre in Decorah, Iowa called it, "a good little program comedy but not worth a raise in admission. The ex-service boys will like it better than average public."

This film was screened at Cinevent in 2019.
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6/10
The Novel is Better
22 October 2019
Old money Mrs. DePeyster (Alice Joyce) is dismayed when her son Jack (George J. Lewis) brings home a grocer's daughter and wants to marry her. In an attempt to thwart the relationship, she switches places with her cousin and hides out in a boarding house with her maid (Zasu Pitts), but accidentally gets entangled with a crook named Pyecroft (Jean Hersholt) who intends to rob her house. They converge on 13 Washington Square but have to continuously invent lies to cover their tracks.

Early in 1927, Universal purchased the rights for the stage play NO. 13 WASHINGTON SQUARE from Brandt & Brandt. It was a highly anticipated and well-known property. May Irwin played Mrs. DePeyster on Broadway in 1915. (Film enthusiasts know Irwin from her famous appearance in the 1896 Edison film dubbed "THE KISS" in which she is kissed by John C. Rice.) Leroy Scott wrote the novel in 1914 for Houghton-Mifflin and he advised the filmmakers on the adaptation to the screen. It is easy to see why there were so many renditions of the story. Its many deceptive characters and cases of mistaken identity are perfect for the stage and screen, and although the plot is old-fashioned, it goes down easy. Possibly to differentiate it from the novel, the film version of the story attempted to add a mystery element which does not come off as successfully as the comedy.

Upon completion of BUCK PRIVATES, also featuring Pitts, director Melville Brown took on this project. It was shot at Universal City in California.

Joyce enjoyed a long career in films beginning in 1910. She was noted for her reserved maturity which often put her in roles of women older than herself, including this one which she performed at age 38. When sound came to film, this became the rule and she found herself receiving less screen time in minor character parts.

This is the second of four films Hersholt and Lewis made together, and Lewis remembered him fondly. "Hersholt was a fine actor, and very easy to work with. I remember he was always very thoughtful of the other cast members." His participation in forming the Motion Picture Relief Fund inspired the Academy to create the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

"Harry Hoyt's adaptation was very adroitly done and a new twist was given the story by fooling the characters and not the audience... Zasu Pitts contributed a great deal to the picture with her superb comedy," wrote critic Donald Beaton for "The Film Spectator." She is probably the most well-known of the cast members today. "Photoplay"'s reviewer agreed, calling for honors for Pitts but regretting that "Jean Hersholt's part does not demand acting at all commensurate with his ability."

P.G. Vaughan of the Sun Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri said, the movie "starts strong and sort of fizzles out before the end." Indeed fans of the novel will be disappointed by how much the film strays from the source material.

Overall, reviewers seemed to agree that the film was enjoyable but mediocre, except J.S. Walker in Grand Prairie, Texas who said, "If anyone ever figures out the reason for making this, please write me."
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6/10
Crazy Story, Hammy Acting, Impressive Music
15 October 2019
I watched this on TCM because I am a huge Van Johnson fan and I hadn't seen it. The convoluted story is silly and the chemistry between Johnson and Kathryn Grayson is non-existent so it doesn't come off, but there are a few merits to make it worth watching anyway.

Dr. Bartlett AKA Link (Johnson) is engaged to socialite Agnes Oglethorpe-Young (Paula Raymond), and life is peachy. However, his divorce from his first wife, opera-singer Ina Massine (Grayson), has only just gone through, and it has prompted her flame for him to reignite. She is an eccentric woman and decides she will stop at nothing, including breaking and entering, to get Link back. Against doctor's orders, she performs in La Boheme, and afterward loses her voice. Oglethorpe-Young's father (Lewis Stone) is a doctor and suggests Massine's ailment is mental and a result of her desire for Link. Therefore, Link takes it upon himself to court her with the help of his brother (Barry Sullivan) in hopes she will fall for his brother instead and be cured, solving both his and her problem in one fell swoop.

This film is dated in many ways, especially in an exchange with a taxi driver. "Hey bud, take my advice. Stick to this chick. She can't scream!"

If you're a fan of classic Hollywood, Grounds for Marriage features quite a cast. The music is also impressive. It varies between classical pieces to jazz in a memorable cameo of the Firehouse Five Plus Two. Johnson dances the Charleston in an amusing way that hearkens back to his days on the musical stage prior to appearing in films. Although he was a tall man, he achieves a certain amount of grace in this scene, and a lightheartedness that encompasses his appeal on the screen. His acting in the scene where he catches a cold is hammy and overdone, but I can't help but love him anyway.
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Going Crooked (1926)
8/10
Artful and Entertaining
9 September 2019
This is a short, zippy silent film from late in the period, and it shows. Artfully done and thoroughly entertaining, it made a great finale to Capitolfest 17 in 2019.

Bessie Love is a crook. She disguises herself as an old woman and attends an estate sale which includes a famous and expensive string of pearls. By replacing the beads with paste, she slips out of the gathering and into a waiting taxi without being detected immediately. Seeing her transform from old woman to flaming youth is a sight to behold.

Gustav von Seyfertitz is her mentor, the leader of a gang of successful criminals. It isn't a surprise they get away with it considering Edgar Kennedy is the bumbling detective. However, the DA (Oscar Shaw), becomes interested in breaking up the crime ring and he is much more proficient. His interest in Love throws an additional wrench into the plot.

The photography is gorgeous. A swimming sequence that places the camera in the water with the two lovebirds is especially impressive. If you get a chance to see it, do!
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10/10
Melodrama! Sneer! Hiss! Laugh!
26 August 2019
This was one of the hits of Capitolfest in 2019! It is a funny send-up to old-fashioned melodramas (which were old hat even in 1933 when this comedy was made). Pat Somerset is True Blue Harold, a hardworking hero through and through, who loves adorable Marion Byron, but the dastardly Simon Flint (Robert Ellis) wants to break them up and take her for himself.

The comedy is outrageous and filled with stereotypical characters including a femme fatal and a wild airborne chase. It is a laugh riot from start to finish, a hidden gem that needs to be released.
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8/10
Guaranteed Laughs
27 May 2019
Screened at Cinevent in 2019, Calling All doctors is a crowd-pleasing comedy about a hypochondriac and the precarious situation his condition puts him in. Charley Chase catches something from his sneezing secretary so he goes to his doctor. While standing in the waiting room, a man approaches him and tells him his doctor is busy and that since he is also a doctor and can treat him instead. Truly he is a mental case who believes he is a doctor. He convinces Charley to take him home with him, and makes him go right to bed; then he crawls in with him.

There are lots of laughs to be had from this one, both slapstick and sight gags. Charley has plasters on both his front and back, a barrel of aspirin in his room, and an atomizer that he accidentally fills with red ink. There are also bizarre twin paintings over his and his wife's beds depicting a woman who is overlaid onto a horse.

If you look closely you can tell that Charley's stunt double looked nothing like him.
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That's That! (1937)
2/10
Nonsensical
7 March 2019
Created as a gag for Stan Laurel's birthday, That's That! is a slapdash and poorly edited smattering of random clips from The Laurel and Hardy Murder case, Way Out West and other films peppered with ridiculous sound effects to make an unintelligible short that makes us wonder "What did I just watch?" Apparently there are pieces that ended up on the cutting room floor and toward the end there are a few outtakes of people swearing, so for the very die-hard collector there are minor pieces of interest. However, the fact that money was put into preserving and restoring this when there are so many other better and more worthy films is a bit frustrating.
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7/10
Solid Cast and Interesting Story
7 March 2019
That Brennan Girl was restored as part of Martin Scorcese's project to restore worthy films. It is rare that a low-budget movie from Republic studios would get this treatment, and I was pleased to see it screened at the Wexner Center in February.

Part family drama, part crime film, part romance, the film begins in flashback with Mona Freeman as a young girl on Mother's Day disappointed that her own mother writes her off as her sister so she can project youth to snag a rich man. As she grows up, she learns her own tricks to survival as a woman and hardens into a free-wheeling gold digger. James Dunn, a con-man with a soft spot for his Irish mother, takes a shine to her and tries to win her over, but she keeps him at arm's length. Then she meets a soldier on leave, and while she starts off cold against him, his earnestness softens her.

A solid film that keeps us entertained an engaged in spite of its many twists and turns, That Brennan Girl features a solid cast and competent direction by Alfred Santell, who was disillusioned by the producers and retired after this film.
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PEN15 (2019– )
9/10
My Middle School Years
6 March 2019
Pen15 is a hilarious and awkward comedy about two immature pre-teen girls in middle school. Anna and Maya are BFFs and team up against their cruel peers in spite of having none of the confidence they need to succeed.

The clothes are so incredibly spot on and my husband and I were pointing out the familiar t-shirts to each other in the background. This is a treasure trove of memories for anyone class of 1999-2007.

There were so many times when this show got me and threw me right back to middle school. Crushing on a guy totally out of your league who doesn't even know you exist, and having a specific song you associate with them for God knows what reason. The discovery of the strange confidence thongs give you. The sounds of AOL. I was done the second they played the clean version of Big Pun's "Still Not a Player" and the kids all start backing it up in spite of their awkwardness with the opposite sex in the daytime hallways. This show has me hook line and sinker and I can't wait for a second season.
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6/10
I, Napoleon
30 August 2017
William Judd (Reginald Denny) is heir to the family fortune. His jealous aunt and cousins plot to part him from it, feeling they should have received it in the first place. There is a clause that states Judd must be of sound mind to get the inheritance, so they set out to prove he is insane. They convince him they are going to a costume party and give him a Napoleon suit to wear. They tell him there is a big prize involved and they have a good shot at winning if he sticks to the part absolutely. Then they take him to a sanitarium for evaluation. Everyone there thinks he is a historical figure, one of whom feels especially roiled by Napoleon, of which they've had many over the years. Judd plays along famously and gets himself committed. He realizes what is going on too late and must prove his sanity among the insane.

The sanitarium is impressive, and the inmates must be very wealthy because the rooms are impressively large and furnished with historically accurate furniture pieces. There are a few good laughs and shocking lines. The story idea is a clever one, but it would have been much better suited to a two-reel comedy rather than a feature film. The gags run on too long and the story becomes tedious. However, it is very memorable.

This film was screened at Capitolfest in 2017.
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7/10
Amusing and Dated
30 August 2017
The Big Paraders is a musical short featuring overweight people singing and dancing. At first I was shocked that it seemed to exploit these peoples' weights, a no-no in today's society, but I was impressed with their talents, and especially the nimbleness of a few of them. There is an amusing and dated "collegiate" number where the dancers display a series of "modern" youthful dance moves wearing what at the time passed as college active wear. This film is available on Youtube and is worth seeking out.

I saw this screened at Capitolfest in 2017.
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8/10
Marjorie White, Adorable Blonde Host
30 August 2017
This short is all about snooping on celebrities. It is simple and full of personality.

Marjorie White is an energetic and adorable host who narrates what we're seeing while riding around in a blimp. Her career was cut short by her early death in a car accident, and it too bad, because her bubbly personality was perfect for the screen. She takes us on a tour around spots where celebrities might be found, including the Hollywood Bowl.
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8/10
Charming
30 August 2017
Early talkies often have remnants of stage performances. Here we have an introduction by Chevalier warming the crowd up, and it immediately endears him to us. He is wonderfully charming and his effervescent personality makes the audience eager to watch this film.

He plays Maurice, a street peddler who saves a young boy Jo-Jo (David Durand) from drowning at the hands of his desperate mother. He tries to reunite the boy with his real family, which turned his mother out when she eloped with his father years ago against her father's wishes. He won't have Jo-Jo, so Maurice takes him home, but not before he catches sight of the boy's aunt Louise (Sylvia Beecher). The two begin courting against her father's wishes, and when he has the chance to make it big on the stage to prove his worth, he jumps at it.

Durand is impressive, alternately cute, funny and heartbreaking. I never understood Chevalier's popularity until I saw this film, and although I'd heard it before, now I can't get "Louise" out of my head.

This film was screened at Capitolfest in 2017.
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8/10
Melodrama for Change
30 August 2017
Oliver Beresford (Theodore Roberts) is a fanatical Christian, a man who judges exponentially more than he forgives and wields his power as head of the household over his meek family. Judith (Florence Vidor) is powerless to carve out her own life because she is a woman, and her brother David (Lloyd Hughes) is too afraid to speak up, although he does secretly act out. His rendezvous with his sweetheart (Madge Bellamy) ends poorly, especially for her.

Although Bellamy has always impressed me because of her outstanding beauty, I never thought of her as much of an actress until I saw this film. Vidor carries the film nicely, a good girl to the core.

The films artistry is evident in the beautiful outdoor scenes and the intricate title cards, especially those outlining the Christmas Eve scenes.

This is melodrama at its finest, the kind that uses hotbed topics to conjure ire, heroes and villains. It focuses heavily on inequality for woman at a time when women were rallying for votes and emancipation.

I saw this film screened at Capitolfest in 2017. It riled the crowd's emotions and provoked spontaneous clapping during a few scenes.
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6/10
Routine Western
30 August 2017
Jack Tanner (Jack Hoxie) is a poor cowboy hoping to increase his fortune so he can marry his sweetheart (Fay Wray). Charlie Champion (William Steele) wants to kill all of the wild horses in the area because of their destructive behavior. Jack offers to round them up, hoping he can then sell them and make a fortune. They give him ten days.

I am not a fan of westerns because they seem to tell the same basic stories over and over again against a beautiful outdoor backdrop. This is no exception.

Hoxie seems to be an odd choice for a movie star. His enormous teeth make him seem like he is grimacing most of the time. It seems many movie fans like to pity him for the loss of his career, but I say he is lucky to have had a successful career in the movies at all.

I saw this film screened at Capitolfest in 2017.
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6/10
Mad Men-esque
28 August 2017
Caroline Bender (Hope Lange) gets a job at a publishing company staffed almost exclusively by women. She manages to work her way up the company ladder even though her real desire is to marry her sweetheart and settle down. That falls through when he impulsively marries another woman (who has money).

This a very soapy drama that relies heavily on outdated societal expectations, namely among women. All of them want to get married, even the one who gave up the prospect of marriage for career success (Joan Crawford), and will go to extreme lengths to achieve that goal. Some find happiness, others get pregnant out of wedlock, and still others resort to stalking.

In spite of the somewhat ridiculous plot twists, this is an enjoyable and stylish film with a capable and beautiful cast. The sets are reminiscent of Mad Men and they're photographed wonderfully.
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7/10
Entertaining
21 August 2017
Walter Winchell feels like he knows everyone and what they're about. He's bored and doesn't want to bore his audiences with the same old gossip. When a pretty young reporter (Joan Castle) from out of town comes to his table, he enthusiastically welcomes her and begins introducing her to everyone. He introduces Paul Whiteman and the Rhythm Boys (minus Bing Crosby) and points out Ruth Etting. He also brings her into a conversation with a couple of noted gangsters, which doesn't turn out the way he planned.

Winchell had loads of personality and makes a good star of this fun short, a nice combination of "look at the celebrities" and a simple story.

I saw this film screened at Capitolfest in 2017.
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8/10
The Action Never Stops
21 August 2017
This frantic comedy got lots of laughs at Capitolfest in 2017. Louise Fazenda has ordered a hunting dog for her husband (Walter Catlett) for his birthday as a surprise. He thinks she is philandering, which is funny because he is. Dopey Shaw and Lee are the dog sellers, really swindlers who intend to steal the dog back. The group is rounded out by the maid (Louise Beavers) and butler (Charles Coleman) who rip around the house after each other, often through a massive bathroom with a tub built into the floor, with speed, polish and lots of personality.
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Some Pumpkins (1929)
2/10
Unfunny and Dated
21 August 2017
At a barn dance, a couple steps outside to get some air and banters back and forth. The humor is corny and outdated. Sam Summers is an ignorant hick and Estelle Hunt's high-pitched voice and obnoxious jokes are more annoying than charming. They go through a few "fancy steps" which look like a history lesson today but many of which were outdated even when this film was released.

This dud was shown at Capitolfest in 2017.
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Molly Picon (1929)
6/10
Not Bad, Not Great
21 August 2017
Molly Picon performs a few songs in two different settings, the first a modern (for the time) setting singing "Temperamental Tillie" and the second a Jewish stereotype doing "Die Yiddishe Blues". She is cute enough and certainly a talented singer. This is a forgettable but pleasant musical short.

This film was shown at Capitolfest in 2017.
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There It Is (1928)
9/10
Creative is an Understatement
18 August 2017
Zany and hilarious, There It Is! is a wild Charley Bowers short featuring his signature stop-motion animation. It concerns a wealthy household plagued by a "Fuzz-Faced Phantom", an entity that knocks people down, floats through walls, and shoots rams out of the sky. They call on Scotland yard for help, only this is literally a fenced square yard in Scotland where men in kilts parade around in circles waiting to be called up. You must see it to believe it.

This film was screened at Capitolfest in 2017.
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Hit and Rum (1935)
8/10
So a man thinks he's a judge...
18 August 2017
Lew Kelly thinks he is a judge (He's not.) and wanders across a busy street only to be between two when they smash together, only he's untouched, just wedged between their grills. Leon Errol and Eddie Kane are the drivers, two men who spend more time bickering among themselves than checking on the victim of their smash up, but he seems unaffected. This is a silly and fun short with a comedy team I was unfamiliar with, and I enjoyed it very much. Its plot hinges both on insanity and drunkenness, and you can't get better devices for laughs.

Hit and Rum was shown at Capitolfest in 2016 & 2017.
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Rolling Along (1930)
8/10
Comedy on the Car
18 August 2017
Charles Murray and George Sidney are streetcar operators who hate each other, but they find a common enemy in their new supervisor. They get lots of laughs as mainly straight characters against the various trials the colorful public brings. Among them is Arthur Housman playing (what else?) a drunk who wants to know if the streetcar goes to Main Street, Sherwood Bailey of Our Gang fame as an annoying unruly kid, and adorable little Buster Phelps in a blink-and-you'll-miss-him part. It is no wonder these streetcars show up so often in comedies; they were a perfect contained space for a lot of laughs.

This film was shown at Capitolfest in 2017.
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