A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

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Harlett O'Dowd
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A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by Harlett O'Dowd » Sat Sep 08, 2018 12:31 am

(We've been traveling so this is the first chance I've had to post. I can't find other Cinecon reviews, but if there are, moderators please move this post)

It was a weekend filled with precocious children, faithful dogs, Erich von Stroheim jokes, people falling into filled bathtubs/ponds, non-mysterious mysteries and mismatched (why is this beautiful woman involved with him?) couples. It was a weekend filled with multiple helpings of Colleen Moore, Jack Oakie, Walter Catlett, John George, Dickie Moore and many others - including Raul Roulien (!)

It was Cinecon 54.

There were no real turkeys, but no undiscovered classics either.

Here’s the rundown of what we saw:

THURSDAY August 30

“The Edison Kinetophone” (1913) – This was the first short on the first program of shorts in which Edison attempted to wed sound and image. Allan Ramsay (it is believed) narrates/explains the new Edison technology. The possibility that Comden and Green ever saw this short prior to writing SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN is somewhere between slim and none, but 39 years later, Julius Tannen gives virtually, and eerily, the same on-screen speech: “a talk-ing pic-ture.” **

HELEN’S BABIES (1924) – Cinecon celebrated soon-to-be-centenarian Diana Serra Cary with a screening of a new restoration of Baby Peggy’s final starring feature. (Unfortunately, health issues prevented Ms. Cary from joining us, but she pre-recorded a video greeting.) The cherry on this sundae was a live orchestral score by Scott Lasky and the Famous Players Orchestra. The plot: Helen (Claire Adams) wants a weekend vacation and entrusts her young daughters (Baby Peggy and Jeanne Carpenter) in the care of her Dr. Spock-ish baby guru brother, Edward Everett Horton (!) who, unsurprisingly, turns out to be a fraud. Straining credibility, EEH falls for next door neighbor, Clara Bow (!) and she helps him rescue the girls when they wander off into dangerous, almost thrill-comedy situations: climbing trees, playing on railroad tracks, befriending gypsies (like you have in southern California.) Silly, a little unnerving safety-wise, and I’m still scratching my head over EEH and Clara Bow together at the fadeout. **3/4

SWEET AND LOW-DOWN (Fox, 1944) The flimsiest of excuses to hear Benny Goodman and his orchestra. The precocious brother of trombonist Johnny Birch gets Benny to hear Johnny play. Johnny then goes on the road with the band and learns the very war-time lesson of how to be part of a team. We also get Dickie Moore, in that awkward age, as a military school cadet. And Jack Oakie. The very definition of a pleasant time-waster. **1/2

Jet-lagged, we bailed on the final screening of the evening, SCOTLAND YARD.

FRIDAY, August 31

“Community Sing” (Columbia, 1939) – a sing-along short with neither printed lyrics nor “follow the bouncing ball” animation. The covers of popular Crosby tunes (“Pennies From Heaven” etc.) by the King Sisters are pleasant enough and a few shots from the back of a fireplace through the flames of the blaze are arresting, but before the day had ended I had forgotten that this short had even screened. *3/4

BLONDE TROUBLE (Paramount, 1937) – The Ring Lardner/George S. Kaufman chestnut JUNE MOON gets an outing with Johnny Downs as the hayseed hoping to break into the NYC songwriting racket with his composer partner, old hand William Demarest. Lynne Overman was amusing as the not-on-the-level music publisher as was Helen Flint as Demarest’s cynical wife. Even El Brendel as a music-savvy window washer impressed. No classic, but one of the more enjoyable sound films of the weekend. ***

LITTLE ORPHANT ANNIE (Selig, 1918) – I had never encountered this early Coleen Moore before, so I can’t say whether this restoration/re-ordering improved on the long available version which has disappointed so many. I was pleasantly surprised by the early double-exposure work and morbid humor in this tale of an orphan girl who tells little children cautionary, Grimm-like tales of goblins and witches who dole out justice to those who stray from path of goodness and light. Coleen, in Mary Pickord mode, was charming in a film that was more about the grotesque goblin costumes and special effects than it was about her. **3/4

KING SOLOMON OF BROADWAY (Universal, 1935) – Edmund Lowe stars as the titular Rialto character who loses big in a poker game with gangsters and has three days to make good on his IOU or lose his share in his nightclub. He also has to cope with his not-no-silent partner (Edward Pawley) who has just been released from prison. The wisecracks come fast and furious, especially when his new chantoosie (Louise Henry) becomes jealous of Lowe’s affection towards a Long Island socialite (Dorothy Page.) Lowe also befriends a helpful stray dog, Hamburger. Pinky Tomlin gets in the best how-did-this-get-past-Joe-Breen line of the weekend. When picking up the remains of his broken guitar, he asks the gangsters not to mind him, as he’s only searching for his G String. My favorite sound film of the weekend. ***1/4

“Playin’ Hookey” (Roach, 1928) – A nearly complete Our Gang short wherein the kids sneak onto the actual Roach lot and wreck havoc. A couple of real belly laughs and nice behind-the-scenes footage. Scott Lasky provided a fine score. ***

“The Sting of Stings” [a.k.a. A Treat for The Boys] (Roach, 1927) – Charley Chase buys a new car and his girlfriend (Edna Marion) suggests they pay-it-forward by treating half a dozen reform school lads to a day’s excursion. The boys aren’t quite as destructive as the Our Gang kids, but they do their bit, especially when they visit a carnival. **1/2

IT’S GREAT TO BE ALIVE (Fox, 1933) Five years or so ago, Cinecon ran the 1924 Fox silent THE LAST MAN ON EARTH. This year, they screened the musical remake. The dreaded disease masculitus wipes out the entire male population on earth with the exception of one man, in this case Raul Roulian, who has gotten himself stranded on a desert island and evaded the plague. The sound version is not nearly as enjoyable as the silent, especially in the over-padded first half where Roulian, for reasons that are never adequately explained, finds himself irresistible to all women, much to the consternation of his fiancée, Gloria Stuart. Not since MADAM SATAN has a musical disaster/sci-fi flick so successfully turned on a dime and redeemed itself in the second half, thanks largely to the appearance of Edna May Oliver and a bizarre production number in which multiple countries bid for the stud services of Roulian upon his return to civilization. The other numbers, most sung by Roulian, were unmemorable, although a brief appearance by Toby Wing as one of his fans, was. **3/4

THAT CERTAIN FEELING (Paramount, 1956) – Honoree Eva Marie Saint was on hand to talk about her second film outing. Essentially a second-rate variation on THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, Ms. Saint is the ex-wife of cartoonist Bob Hope (21 years her senior) and engaged to George Sanders (a mere 18 years older.) Sanders is also a cartoonist and he has become so successful managing the business end and being a stuffed shirt that the winsomeness of his strip has taken a back seat to political satire etc. Hope, who becomes violently ill whenever he stands up to authority, is brought on to ghost the strip. Pearl Bailey, as Sanders maid, plays essentially the same agony aunt role Louis Armstrong played in HIGH SOCIETY, which was released around the same time. Instead of a precocious sister, Ms. Saint gets a weepy pre-Beaver Jerry Mathers. He’s Sanders nephew whom George adopts as a publicity stunt … or something. And there’s a dog … and a couple of enjoyable old songs. Hope gets in a few good laughs, especially when he brutally sends up Sanders in a rehearsal for a television program. And while the whole thing feels like Hope-on-a-budget, Ms. Saint was a delight, both on the screen and during the Q&A. She even followed us into Musso’s for our anniversary dinner (although she demurely chose to sit at a different table.) ***

“Hunting Trouble” (1933) – Louise Fazenda buys a dog off of Shaw & Lee as a present for her jealous, philandering husband, Walter Catlett. Mike Schlesinger stated his belief that Oliver Hardy falling into a bathtub (in Brats, see below) was funny, while Ms Fazenda’s maid, Louise Beavers, falling into a tub was not. I disagree. It might be meaner to have Ms. Beavers take all the slapstick punishment she endured here, but I laughed. **1/2

“At The Mike” (1934) – It’s always a joy to hear Rose Marie put over a song, but we also got the added bonus of Tess (Aunt Jemina) Gardella get almost Yma Sumac-y in her jazzy turn. And then we get sleepy, cynical, high-kicking dancer-comedienne Maxine Stone as a bonus. This short wasn’t dancing-breakfast-cereal bizarre, but it was the most out-there short of the weekend and one of the few films screened this weekend I would seek out on home video. A real treat. ***

“Club-House Party” (1935) – There’s considerably less star wattage in this musical hodge-podge of acts than in “At the Mike” – but stringed-instrument virtuoso Roy Smeck and the dancing of Ford, Bowie and Daley were impressive. **

“Wandering Willies” (Sennett, 1926) – Billy Bevan and Andy Clyde are hoboes who … well, who cares about the set-up? We get multiple restaurant gags including the time-honored oyster chowder routine. **

SO LONG LETTY (1920) – Colleen appears not as the titular good-time wife (that’s Grace Darmond) but as the mousy hausfrau next door in this perennial wife-swapping farce. I wanted to like this more than I did, but it was essentially a filmed, silent stage play with lots of title cards. Music by Frederick Hodges. **

I planned to give Karloff and THE APE a chance, but my bed beckoned.

SATURDAY, September 1

“Hog Wild” (Roach, 1930) – Laurel and Hardy, while installing a radio antenna on the roof, instead destroy Oliver’s house in this beautifully restored print. ***

“Brats” (Roach, 1930) – Double your L&H pleasure with the boys as both fathers and sons in this classic Roach short. ***

“Hollywood Victory Caravan” (1942) – color silent home movies of an all-star (Hope, Cagney, Colbert, L&H, Groucho, etc.) war bond performance in Philadelphia.

FOUR DAYS WONDER (Universal, 1936) – Precocious 13-year-old stage personality Jeanne Dante is a murder mystery fan who ends up on the run when her domineering stage-actress aunt (Margaret Irving) ends up dead. There’s no real mystery here. There’s no real there there either. The exception is Alan Mowbray’s comic turn as a mystery writer who can’t stand the word blood, let alone the sight of it. He alone kept this one out of the turkey column. A textbook example of how Universal struggled to find itself in the days after the Laemmles lost control of the studio. *

NAUGHTY BABY (First National, 1928) – People either love or hate Alice White. I enjoy her gold digger with a heart of gold, especially when she remains silent. NAUGHTY BABY may be the most enjoyable White I have encountered to date. The camera absolutely worships her, particularly in a series of elaborate tracking shots. In this one, Alice is assisted by three dwarfs (George E Stone, Benny Rubin and Andy Devine as the personifications of the three prevalent immigrant groups of the era) who procure the jewelry, clothes and transportation necessary for her to entrap playboy Jack Mulhall. Herr Mulhall, by the way, shows off a surprising amount of ink while in his bathing suit during a lengthy beachside sequence. Musical accompaniment by Frederick Hodges. A toss-up for the best silent of the weekend. ***1/4

I have practically committed the play ONCE IN A LIFETIME to heart, so we chose to take a lengthy post-luncheon walk. But we did sneak in for the last act, which played like gangbusters.

THE DESERT BRIDE (Columbia, 1928) – I have yet to encounter a silent Columbia I didn’t like … but this one came close. French officer Allan Forrest goes undercover to stop a potential Arab uprising in French-occupied north Africa. Betty Compson is the love interest and Roscoe Karns (!) is a soldier of fortune fighting for the French. The film starts out promisingly with the Arabs portrayed as an occupied people with legitimate grievances, then never dips beneath the surface – either to illustrate the points of view and legitimacy of either/both sides, or, later in the flick, to illustrate how the Arabs go off the rails into truly villainous behavior. There’s just a lot of grimacing and limited action. Jon Mirsalis pulled out all the stops in his score but not even he could raise this one beyond the programmer that it is. **1/4

By this point in the weekend, I had endured far too many precocious children to risk another with Cora Sue Collins and THE UNEXPECTED FATHER, even with Ms. Collins in attendance. We chose to take in the vigil mass at Holy Sacrament instead.

“September in the Rain” (WB, 1937) – was the kick-off to the evening’s nitrate line-up. This Merrie Melody featured a general store during an evening rain storm where all the products (Morton’s Salt, etc.) magically came to life and sang and danced. One question: this is the second WB cartoon I have encountered wherein Jolson sings “September in the Rain (the other, IIRC, is “What’s Up Doc?” from 1950.) Does anyone know why Termite Terrace teamed Jolson with this song? Yes, Jolson was a known WB quantity and WB owned the song, but to my knowledge, Jolson never commercially recorded the ditty and did little to turn the song into a hit. Regardless, this was a beautiful print and fun to see. **1/2

HE LEARNED ABOUT WOMEN (Paramount, 1933) – I confess to being immune to the charms of Stuart Erwin, and he did little to convert me in this outing, where he played a sheltered New York zillionaire during the darkest days of the Depression. As he comes of age, he is encouraged to experience more of the world. He does and during an auction for day-workers, adopts Susan Fleming and her friend, a highly amusing ham actress past her sell-by date, played with relish by Alison Skipworth. So long as the film sticks to the Depression and the desperate means people went to be fed and employed, the film works, When we concentrate on Erwin and his all too predictable journey from milquetoast to … not quite so much of a milquetoast …. the film lags. **

‘San Francisco Earthquake” (1906) – Original Miles Bros. footage of the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake is startling, not just for its clarity but for its haunting images of the aftermath as the city began to clean up and rebuild. Music by Frederick Hodges.

I am almost as allergic to non-Ford westerns as I am to Stuart Erwin, so, nitrate or no nitrate, we bailed on Buck Jones and THE AVENGER.

Sunday, September 2

“She Snoops to Conquer” (Columbia, 1944) – This non-Stooge Columbia two-reeler casts Barbara Jo Allen as a reporter who wants to get married. Her boss/lover agrees if she grabs “the big story.” She does, comically capturing a Nazi spy ring. There’s more falling into bathtubs and a rapid-fire mortar launcher that, in Allen's hands, utilizes chocolate éclairs as ammunition. The serendipitous result of this type of pie fight is that the Nazis end up covered in something that, in black and white, looks suspiciously like feces. Ah, the nostalgia: a time when American audiences could be expected to cheer to see Nazis covered in sh*t. ***

THE GOLDEN HORDE (Universal, 1951) – Wherein THE DESERT BRIDE pulled its punches, THE GOLDEN HORDE pours on the melted cheese with wild abandon. Ann Blyth is the princess/ruler of Samarkand, under siege by the son of Genghis Khan (Henry Brandon.) He is no match for her feminine cunning, but complications ensue when a band of English crusaders appear on the scene (led by David Farrar) and decide that the little lady “needs protecting.” Pshaw. Ms. Blyth may not be Maria Montez, but she is more than a match against any chest-thumping male. And how she managed to get her opening scene peek-a-boo costume past the Breen Office is a mystery for the ages. I hereby request that Ms. Blyth be inducted as a Daughter of Naldi in her own right. ***

OUTSIDE THE LAW (Universal, 1921) – What was announced as a new restoration incorporating footage from two recently found show-at-home prints into the existing 35 print we all know by heart turned out to be just a clean-up of the existing 35. That disappointment aside, I also have to confess that this is perhaps my least favorite Chaney/Browning collaboration, but it is always a treat to see a non-POTO Chaney screening. Especially one where the musical score is provided by Jon Mirsalis. **3/4

“The Infernal Triangle” (Roach, 1935) – The husband-discovers-wife-with-best-friend melodrama is offered here as it would occur in various countries (England, France, Russia, etc.) Stereotypes abound. The French apache dance was the highlight of this slight short. **

INFERNAL MACHINE (Fox, 1933) – American abroad Chester Morris is about to end it all when he falls for Genevieve Tobin. Problem is, she is sailing back home and is engaged to tycoon Victor Jory. Morris stows away to try to win her back. Oh, and there’s a time-bomb on-board set to destroy the ship at midnight, yet everyone is too involved pointing fingers and having petty squabbles to find and defuse the bomb in time. No matter, as the “who dunnit”/"where is it" part of the plot was DOA to begin with. This was one of those odd only-in-the-30s genre mashups, helped enormously by the presence of Edward Van Sloan (as the mad scientist) Mischa Auer & J. Carrol Naish (Bolshevik anarchists) and other character pros. This was silly and odd enough, but never lived up to the potential of its premise. **1/2

SEVEN SINNERS (WB, 1925) – Marie Provost and Clive Brook lead a group of, well, seven sinners – an unconnected group of thieves out to get the jewels from the safe in an unoccupied Long Island estate. This was the slightest of light comic caper films, but Prevost (especially) kept the soufflé from falling. Piano accompaniment by Jon Mirsalis. **1/2

¡ASEGURE A SU MUJER! [Insure Your Wife!] (Fox, 1935) – During a weekend of fantastical stories behind the journey to rescue, restore and resubmit forgotten films back into the catalog, this may be the most intriguing. Fox, post-Code, produced its own original Spanish-language film specifically for the overseas market. (i.e., a title that was not the parallel production of an English-language property, a la the Spanish DRACULA) A brief montage of lovely ladies primping in lingerie aside, the end result isn’t particularly pre-Code: Raul Roulien, again, inexplicably, is catnip to women. He comes up with the idea of selling fidelity insurance to husbands who wish to protect themselves from the scourge of having their wives being unfaithful to them. Of course, every man on the screen is perfectly happy to mess around with every woman, married and unmarried, who is at hand. One wonders, if the Spanish Civil War had not erupted, if Fox and the other studios would have produced additional for-Spanish-only films. Sadly, the end result here ended up being a mild sex farce, more interesting in concept than in execution, and which may have ended the experiment all by itself. **1/2

I caught GOLDIE at Cinecon in 1993(?) and felt no need to see it again, so chose to spend an extended dinner break with family (although I wept at the thought of missing a Max Davidson short.) We arrived back in time to catch the final 15 minutes or so of THE WILD HORSE STAMPEDE (Universal, 1926) – here Fay Wray ends up with Jack Hoxie. Why? You may ask. I have no idea. The titular stampede was impressive.

LEGION OF TERROR (Columbia, 1936) – how I would love to read the censor file on this title, as I suspect Breen removed a lot of venom from the initial script. Bruce Cabot & Crawford Weaver play US Postal Inspectors who investigate a Klan-like organization in a small town (presumably) in the mid-west. Curiously, the Legion never talks about Blacks, Catholics, Jews or any other non-WASP people. In fact, everyone – literally everyone – in the film, is white. As presented on film, the Legion might as well be a strong-arming Labor Union. That is, until the sheets and tiki torches come out and the violence begins. Even as a exploitation programmer, this could have been much more than what it eventually came to be. **

Monday, September 3

“A Tale of Old Whiff” (1960) – this long-lost short was, apparently, to many, the LAM of missing 70mm films. Again, the saga of how the film was found and digitally restored was fascinating. The film itself, a cartoon of a hound dog that sniffs out a missing dinosaur bone, was not particularly funny, or even charming. Perhaps if it had been screened in the original “smellovision” process, my reaction would have been more positive. *

MILLION DOLLAR LEGS (Paramount, 1932) – sure it’s a warhorse, but the idea of a bankrupted country rescuing itself from the Depression by winning at the 1932 LA Olympics is irresistible – especially with a cast headed by Jack Oakie, W. C. Fields and Lyda Roberti (as the siren spy Mata Machree.) Pure Paramount pre-Screwball laff-riot insanity. I particularly loved Ben Turpin as a spy who pops up occasionally but doesn’t contribute to the story. (Richard Adkins, when introducing the screening stated that Bob Birchard had previously put the kibosh on running Fields features at Cinecon. Having shed the shackles of EB Puritanism, can the sing-along GOLDEN DAWN be far behind?) One of the best sound films of the weekend. ***1/4

THE SHAKEDOWN (Universal, 1929) – James (THE CROWD) Murray plays a Rocky-esque D-list boxer. He loves waitress Barbara Kent and takes orphan Jack Hanlon under his wing and decides to go straight in the ring rather than to disappoint the people who believe in him. Music by Michael Gatt. No classic, but this was the best silent of the weekend. ***1/4

We had to leave before the afternoon session, so this ended Cinecon 54 for us. Many thanks to Stan, Mike, Stella and everyone else who makes the magic happen.
Last edited by Harlett O'Dowd on Mon Sep 10, 2018 8:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

wich2
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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by wich2 » Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:20 am

Harlett O'Dowd wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 12:31 am
I planned to give Karloff and THE APE a chance, but my bed beckoned.
If you ever get a chance, it's worth a watch (and by FAR the best print I've ever seen, is TCM's.)

For whatever reason, Billy Pratt here musters himself for a solid, even touching, performance rare in a Monogram cheapie.

-Craig

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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by Brooksie » Sat Sep 08, 2018 4:21 pm

Hooray! At last, a Cinecon review! Thanks, Harlett. Sounds like I missed a lot of fun stuff.

The view that It's Great To Be Alive (1933) is inferior to the silent predecessor seems near-universal, and I'm not surprised. Changing the lead character from a milksop to a ladies' man is a pretty fundamental alteration.

I particularly would have liked to see Naughty Baby (1928) - I wouldn't say I hate Alice White; I've just been distinctly underwhelmed by everything I've seen her in, which admittedly is not much. I'm always happy to see more of a person's oeuvre and be disabused of the notion that they're not up to much (or, for that matter, to have that notion confirmed for once and for all).

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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by greta de groat » Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:58 pm

Harlett O'Dowd wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 12:31 am


“At The Mike” (1934) – It’s always a joy to hear Rose Marie put over a song, but we also got the added bonus of Tess (Aunt Jemina) Gardella get almost Yma Sumac-y in her jazzy turn. And then we get a sleepy, cynical, high-kicking dancer-comedienne Kathleen Howard (?) as a bonus. This short wasn’t dancing-breakfast-cereal bizarre, but it was the most out-there short of the weekend and a real treat. ***

Not Kathleen Howard, the opera singer and W.C. Fields nemesis?

greta
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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Sat Sep 08, 2018 9:15 pm

The view that It's Great To Be Alive (1933) is inferior to the silent predecessor seems near-universal, and I'm not surprised. Changing the lead character from a milksop to a ladies' man is a pretty fundamental alteration.
It may be inferior, but I found it quite enjoyable nonetheless.
“I'm in favor of plagiarism. If we are to create a new Renaissance, the government should encourage plagiarism. When convinced that someone is a true plagiarist, we should immediately award them the Legion of Honor.” —Jean Renoir

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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by missdupont » Sun Sep 09, 2018 12:00 am

My review should be up by Monday.

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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by Arndt » Sun Sep 09, 2018 5:20 am

Thank you for the reports! Sounds like a varied programme. You seem to have paced yourself well. I find that - as exciting as a programme of films may look beforehand - after a few films the more delicate parts of my anatomy force me to take a break.
I am looking forward to a time when I shall be able to attend Cinecon and other great festivals around the world. And after your review I am going to watch HELEN'S BABIES this afternoon.
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by vitaphone » Sun Sep 09, 2018 7:25 am

Did anyone see the Universal short THE TRIAL OF VINCE BARNETT, shown I believe on Sunday? I'd appreciate a review.

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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by missdupont » Sun Sep 09, 2018 8:07 am

Hi Ron, I saw it and really enjoyed it. Character actors Vince Barnett, Max Davidson, Bert Roach, Jack LaRue, and Sterling Holloway all played characters with their same names and the same characteristics as the characters they played onscreen. Vince was on trial for causing problems after renting gigolo Jack LaRue's apartment and seeing fights break out. Max plays his attorney in front of judge Henry Armetta, whose attendant is Fred Kelsey. We hear the story in flashback through testimony. It's very funny if a little long.

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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by vitaphone » Sun Sep 09, 2018 4:02 pm

Thanks Harlett! Much appreciated. Am going to try to include it in a future MOMA show.

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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by precode » Sun Sep 09, 2018 5:49 pm

Thanks for the wrap-up! I'd quibble with a couple of your opinions, but hey, that's what makes a horse race. Well, that and horses. And betting.

Anyway, a couple of corrections:

SOLOMON: Page played the singer, Henry the socialite. This is the last time I write a program note from memory.

ASEGURE was not made for Spain (though it did play there), but for Mexico and the rest of the Latin markets. And in fact Fox made a whole bunch of Spanish-only pictures in that era. But whereas those were never intended to be in English, ASEGURE clearly was, given that it's set in New York and almost the entire cast is made up of bilingual Hollywood actors. The "precode" aspect is that it treats infidelity as a joke, something that's no big deal because everybody does it. This would have been particularly offensive to the deeply Catholic Breen.

HUNTING TROUBLE: You only overheard part of the conversation. Someone else said Louise Beavers falling into a bathtub is not funny. I sarcastically said, "So Oliver Hardy falling into a bathtub is funny, but Louise Beavers falling into a bathtub is not funny?" And he said yes. No, I loved this short.

Mike S.

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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by precode » Sun Sep 09, 2018 5:51 pm

BTW, a big hat-tip to Mary Mallory, who suggested THE TRAIL OF VINCE BARNETT. There's apparently a whole bunch of those Roach Refugee shorts still in the vaults at Universal, and hopefully we can get them to preserve more.

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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by Harlett O'Dowd » Mon Sep 10, 2018 8:37 am

greta de groat wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:58 pm
Harlett O'Dowd wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 12:31 am


“At The Mike” (1934) – It’s always a joy to hear Rose Marie put over a song, but we also got the added bonus of Tess (Aunt Jemina) Gardella get almost Yma Sumac-y in her jazzy turn. And then we get a sleepy, cynical, high-kicking dancer-comedienne Kathleen Howard (?) as a bonus. This short wasn’t dancing-breakfast-cereal bizarre, but it was the most out-there short of the weekend and a real treat. ***

Not Kathleen Howard, the opera singer and W.C. Fields nemesis?

greta
No. Maxine (Mrs. Benny Ross) Stone. I have corrected my initial post.

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Harlett O'Dowd
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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by Harlett O'Dowd » Mon Sep 10, 2018 8:39 am

precode wrote:
Sun Sep 09, 2018 5:49 pm
Thanks for the wrap-up! I'd quibble with a couple of your opinions, but hey, that's what makes a horse race. Well, that and horses. And betting.

Anyway, a couple of corrections:

SOLOMON: Page played the singer, Henry the socialite. This is the last time I write a program note from memory.

ASEGURE was not made for Spain (though it did play there), but for Mexico and the rest of the Latin markets. And in fact Fox made a whole bunch of Spanish-only pictures in that era. But whereas those were never intended to be in English, ASEGURE clearly was, given that it's set in New York and almost the entire cast is made up of bilingual Hollywood actors. The "precode" aspect is that it treats infidelity as a joke, something that's no big deal because everybody does it. This would have been particularly offensive to the deeply Catholic Breen.

HUNTING TROUBLE: You only overheard part of the conversation. Someone else said Louise Beavers falling into a bathtub is not funny. I sarcastically said, "So Oliver Hardy falling into a bathtub is funny, but Louise Beavers falling into a bathtub is not funny?" And he said yes. No, I loved this short.

Mike S.
Corrections duly noted (I thought it was odd to think that you were unimpressed by Louise Beavers' physical comedy.)

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Harlett O'Dowd
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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by Harlett O'Dowd » Mon Sep 10, 2018 8:42 am

precode wrote:
Sun Sep 09, 2018 5:51 pm
BTW, a big hat-tip to Mary Mallory, who suggested THE TRAIL OF VINCE BARNETT. There's apparently a whole bunch of those Roach Refugee shorts still in the vaults at Universal, and hopefully we can get them to preserve more.

Ooooh. More with Max? More CROOKS' TOUR insanity?

All hail Mary!

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Harlett O'Dowd
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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by Harlett O'Dowd » Mon Sep 10, 2018 12:33 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 9:15 pm
The view that It's Great To Be Alive (1933) is inferior to the silent predecessor seems near-universal, and I'm not surprised. Changing the lead character from a milksop to a ladies' man is a pretty fundamental alteration.
It may be inferior, but I found it quite enjoyable nonetheless.
To be clear, I loved the second half - more than I expected to.

earlytalkiebuffRob
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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Mon Sep 10, 2018 1:03 pm

Nice to see SEVEN SINNERS is still around...

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precode
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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by precode » Mon Sep 10, 2018 4:57 pm

Harlett O'Dowd wrote:
Mon Sep 10, 2018 8:42 am
precode wrote:
Sun Sep 09, 2018 5:51 pm
BTW, a big hat-tip to Mary Mallory, who suggested THE TRAIL OF VINCE BARNETT. There's apparently a whole bunch of those Roach Refugee shorts still in the vaults at Universal, and hopefully we can get them to preserve more.

Ooooh. More with Max? More CROOKS' TOUR insanity?

All hail Mary!
Sadly, Max's role is very small. He doesn't do much more than mutter "Oy!" a couple of times. But it was still swell to see him at all!

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Robert W
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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by Robert W » Mon Sep 10, 2018 5:09 pm

Enjoyed the report very much.

Is Helen's Babies legally available anywhere ?

barry byrne
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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by barry byrne » Thu Sep 13, 2018 1:47 am

Thanks for your report, living vicariously here.

May your grape knife remain sharp.

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Arndt
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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by Arndt » Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:26 am

Robert W wrote:
Mon Sep 10, 2018 5:09 pm
Enjoyed the report very much.

Is Helen's Babies legally available anywhere ?
My copy is from Videobrary.
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Jim Roots
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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by Jim Roots » Thu Sep 13, 2018 2:17 pm

Arndt wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:26 am
Robert W wrote:
Mon Sep 10, 2018 5:09 pm
Enjoyed the report very much.

Is Helen's Babies legally available anywhere ?
My copy is from Videobrary.
So is mine! VHS.

Jim

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missdupont
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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by missdupont » Thu Sep 13, 2018 4:58 pm

HELEN'S BABIES has been restored thanks to David Stenn, who found a print in Italy with much less decomposition than the one previously out there, so this is much cleaner.

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precode
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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by precode » Thu Sep 13, 2018 11:31 pm

I believe it's somewhat longer as well.

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Arndt
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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by Arndt » Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:47 am

precode wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 11:31 pm
I believe it's somewhat longer as well.
I thought it was long enough. I enjoyed it, but it did not leave me asking for more of it.
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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precode
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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by precode » Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:14 pm

The probability of Edward Everett Horton schtupping Clara Bow would give anyone pause. :lol:

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LouieD
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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by LouieD » Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:34 pm

Harlett O'Dowd wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 12:31 am
Even El Brendel as a music-savvy window washer impressed.
Of course.

Histogram
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Re: A Harlett goes to Cinecon 54

Unread post by Histogram » Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:15 pm

precode wrote:
Mon Sep 10, 2018 4:57 pm
Sadly, Max's role is very small. He doesn't do much more than mutter "Oy!" a couple of times. But it was still swell to see him at all!
Max has some great lines in this move. He plays an attorney for the defense, and is about as sharp as a knish. At various points during the trial, in response to the shouty judge, Max cowers and declines to question witnesses in order to avoid causing trouble or holding up the show.

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