Wednesday, July 23, 2003

-Exit Smiling-. (1926?) Silent MGM comedy w/ Bea Lillie both funny and touching as Cinderella-ish maid for traveling theater troupe (-Flaming Women-) who doesn't get the guy. Marvelous, Chaplinesque ironing scene. So much of the movie is about overacting that you're watching for it in the actual performances, which makes Lillie's understatement that much more effective. I think of her as a comic singer 'Get Yourself A Geisha,' but this was very impressive. Franklin Pangborn, the youngest I've seen him, as the gayest character I've yet seen in a movie of that area -- of course, he plays the actor who plays the he-men!

-Ermine and Orchids-. Another silent, with kewpie-ish Colleen Moore, as a wannabee gold-digger who unwillingly falls for the guy who isn't rich, except of course he turns out to be. Too cute, too many intertitles (though some were funny -- "Park Avenue, where good little minks go to die"), weird scene with Mickey Rooney, age 9 in one of his first films, as a lecherous midget -- see also Billy Barty in the Powell/Keeler backstagers. As Bree likes to say, it'll all be 'over' -- i.e. the last important ties to Golden Age Hollywood will be cut -- when Mickey Rooney finally dies.

-Accent On Youth- (1935). Just barely post-code Paramount comedy based on a play by Lubitsch's fave screenwriter. Herbert Marshall playing older than he was at the time, Sylvia Sidney, marvelous character actor as the butler (already forgot his name, dammit). Poorly directed by Wesley Ruggles -- not that I mind a filmed play, but the juvenile male lead was a piece of wood, led through rooms statically to flop on SS's bed, drunk. Completely unbelievable moment: A playwright telling one of his actors to have 'the boys at the tennis club' look his new script over. Great line, to some college boys who want to search an apartment: 'Remember you're in the United States of America -- not Princeton.'

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