Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Sun Jun 03, 2018 12:26 am

smokey15 wrote:
donwc1996 wrote:I've been a fan of Charles Farrell for quite some time. From his 1st pairing with Janet Gaynor in the 1927 film Seventh Heaven, he found stardom and they continued to be the most popular screen couple into the early thirties. They made about 12 films together-some of which now seem to be LOST. I also liked him in Clash of the Wolves, City Girl, Fazil, Old Ironsides and Liliom. Probably his biggest success was running the Palm Springs Racquet Club!

Actually none of the 12 films Charles Farrell made with Janet Gaynor are lost. 7th Heaven, Street Angel, Lucky Star, Sunnyside Up, Delicious and Change of Heart have been shown on Turner Classic Movies. Happy Days and The Man Who Came back are available in the "bootleg market". UCLA restored Tess Of The Storm Country and The First Year and they have been shown at film festivals. MOMA has a pristine print of Merely Mary Ann in their collection. The only elusive film of theirs is High Society Blues. According to UCLA they do have High Society Blues in their archives but it's not readily known if it's complete or if it's been restored. But all 12 films are in existence.
I suppose one might say that LUCKY STAR is partially lost as only the silent version is known to survive (correct me if I'm wrong) at the moment. It was scheduled in the Borzage season at London's NFT in the mid-1970s but I don't know what happened, considering it only reappeared (a Dutch print, I think) in the 1990s.

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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by Hamilton's Grandson » Sun Jun 03, 2018 5:57 pm

He wasn't that awful in City Girl 1930, but maybe Mary Duncan helped his cause with a good performance of her own.

Wish we could all see what his role and performance was like in The Rough Riders 1927, but LOST at moment.
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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by Hamilton's Grandson » Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:52 pm

Has anybody seen portions of The River 1927?

I think it was out on DVD a while ago in a box set as Murnau, Borzage, and Fox.
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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by FrankFay » Mon Jun 04, 2018 4:27 am

Hamilton's Grandson wrote:Has anybody seen portions of The River 1927?

I think it was out on DVD a while ago in a box set as Murnau, Borzage, and Fox.
What remains is striking, though it is hard to judge Farrell's talent from them- he's not called on to do much real acting- and is unconscious with fever during one scene. Still, his looks are very much on display.
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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by Jim Roots » Mon Jun 04, 2018 5:41 am

Hamilton's Grandson wrote:Has anybody seen portions of The River 1927?

I think it was out on DVD a while ago in a box set as Murnau, Borzage, and Fox.
I don't think it's on that set.

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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Mon Jun 04, 2018 6:05 am

Jim Roots wrote:
Hamilton's Grandson wrote:Has anybody seen portions of The River 1927?

I think it was out on DVD a while ago in a box set as Murnau, Borzage, and Fox.
I don't think it's on that set.
It's on the flip side of the Seventh Heaven disc.

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film2/DVDRevie ... ge_fox.htm" target="_blank" target="_blank
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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by maliejandra » Mon Jun 04, 2018 6:31 am

Aww, I like him! (But then I like his type a lot-- Van Johnson being a favorite.) Old Ironsides and Lucky Star are excellent and they couldn't be so if he were terrible.

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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by Jim Roots » Mon Jun 04, 2018 2:20 pm

s.w.a.c. wrote:
Jim Roots wrote:
Hamilton's Grandson wrote:Has anybody seen portions of The River 1927?

I think it was out on DVD a while ago in a box set as Murnau, Borzage, and Fox.
I don't think it's on that set.
It's on the flip side of the Seventh Heaven disc.

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film2/DVDRevie ... ge_fox.htm" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank
Whoa! I never knew that!

I want to watch all of the films on that set before I read the books in it, so if the complete listing of ALL films in the set is included in one of the books, that's why I didn't know.

There is a one-sheet insert at the back of the set listing what I thought was all of the films. After reading Stephen's advice, I looked through each disc, back and front, and was stunned to discover three films not included in that one-sheet list, and not mentioned in the disc holders, either. I'm not quite sure what to make of that sloppy information printing.

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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by FrankFay » Mon Jun 04, 2018 3:51 pm

Jim Roots wrote: I want to watch all of the films on that set before I read the books in it, so if the complete listing of ALL films in the set is included in one of the books, that's why I didn't know.

There is a one-sheet insert at the back of the set listing what I thought was all of the films. After reading Stephen's advice, I looked through each disc, back and front, and was stunned to discover three films not included in that one-sheet list, and not mentioned in the disc holders, either. I'm not quite sure what to make of that sloppy information printing.

Jim
Considering the expense and the importance, the packaging of the set is truly wretched. I have to use the packing material I'd usually throw away in order to teep the pages in alignment - and the page slot system is stupid
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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by Hamilton's Grandson » Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:39 pm

Is this set worth the $250 ?

"The River- Reconstruction from fragments" appears to be on the back of the box set. I see that now.

Thanks for the link s.w.a.c.

Still has anyone watched The River reconstruction from this DVD and how does it compare to his other silent films, ie City Girl , etc.).

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Dana
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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by Jim Roots » Tue Jun 05, 2018 5:19 am

FrankFay wrote:
Jim Roots wrote: I want to watch all of the films on that set before I read the books in it, so if the complete listing of ALL films in the set is included in one of the books, that's why I didn't know.

There is a one-sheet insert at the back of the set listing what I thought was all of the films. After reading Stephen's advice, I looked through each disc, back and front, and was stunned to discover three films not included in that one-sheet list, and not mentioned in the disc holders, either. I'm not quite sure what to make of that sloppy information printing.

Jim
Considering the expense and the importance, the packaging of the set is truly wretched. I have to use the packing material I'd usually throw away in order to teep the pages in alignment - and the page slot system is stupid
When it arrived at my house, I couldn't figure out how to open it! It took me quite awhile to realize the full-size descriptive sheet on the back was pasted over the area where the box opens. You have to remove the sheet in order to lift off the box top, and too bad if you want to maintain that sheet in good condition.

The only other set I can think of that was equally stupid in its packaging is the Jayne Mansfield Collection. You have to peel off some kind of ... bookmark? ... that completely covers the opening of that box. It must have been the same designer who did both sets. Hopefully that person has been blacklisted from ever handling another box set!

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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Tue Jun 05, 2018 1:21 pm

Jim Roots wrote:
Hamilton's Grandson wrote:Has anybody seen portions of The River 1927?

I think it was out on DVD a while ago in a box set as Murnau, Borzage, and Fox.
I don't think it's on that set.

Jim
It's also on the LUCKY STAR / LILIOM BFI Borzage set. More of THE RIVER survives that I had expected, and there is also the original Movietone soundtrack. Impressive and interesting, despite its incompleteness...

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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by Harlowgold » Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:23 pm

No he's not Olivier but I really like him!! He's one of the few silent era "romantic" male stars whose original appeal is pretty strong today. I mean how bizarre that someone as plump - and obnoxious - as Francis X Bushman - was a favorite of the ladies in the 1910's! Ramon Novarro comes across a little too masochistically vulnerable and John Gilbert way too shrill and hysterical in most of their movies. Charlie's very good in OLD IRONSIDES and extremely appealing in the sweethearts movies with Janet Gaynor. He's at his best in my opinion in STREET ANGEL as the simple but very dashing vagabond, rather adorable in his good-natured bluster. His voice wasn't so good in talkies but he still had plenty of appeal as someone has noted, to be a box office draw several years into the talkie era. Yes, he's a modest talent but he's very much a movie star and with his image - the extremely handsome, drama-free, genuinely nice guy - how could he not have been popular?

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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by Jim Roots » Wed Jun 06, 2018 5:29 am

Harlowgold wrote:
No he's not Olivier but I really like him!! He's one of the few silent era "romantic" male stars whose original appeal is pretty strong today. I mean how bizarre that someone as plump - and obnoxious - as Francis X Bushman - was a favorite of the ladies in the 1910's! Ramon Novarro comes across a little too masochistically vulnerable and John Gilbert way too shrill and hysterical in most of their movies. Charlie's very good in OLD IRONSIDES and extremely appealing in the sweethearts movies with Janet Gaynor. He's at his best in my opinion in STREET ANGEL as the simple but very dashing vagabond, rather adorable in his good-natured bluster. His voice wasn't so good in talkies but he still had plenty of appeal as someone has noted, to be a box office draw several years into the talkie era. Yes, he's a modest talent but he's very much a movie star and with his image - the extremely handsome, drama-free, genuinely nice guy - how could he not have been popular?
Bushman wasn't plump, he was extremely muscular across the chest and shoulders.

It should be kept in mind that preferences in body shapes change with the times. Theda Bara looks practically obese to our eyes, but not to those of her contemporaries. Similarly, some know-nothing 80-pound so-called "super-"model of today (was it Heidi Klum?) said she would rather be dead than be "as fat as Marilyn Monroe". I don't think there is anyone older than 40 who ever considered MM "fat". She had everything in all the right places. But to today's assless anorexics, yes, MM does look excessively fleshy. YMMV.

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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by Mitch Farish » Wed Jun 06, 2018 7:54 am

Farrell did have all the physical attributes that defined him as a "hunk" then as well as today. And I think it's unfair to characterize him as a bad actor. At worst, he was an uneven actor who could be bad or fine depending on the material and the director. I think he was awful in 7th Heaven - his facial expressions, his gestures, his attempt as playing "blind" in the end, but he was fine if not remarkable in Street Angel, The River, Old Ironsides, and was very good in Lucky Star IMO.

As far as physical types, leading men and women represented the spectrum of physical types, from skinny to plump to fat in the silents. Filmmakers and audiences didn't seem obsessed with the ideal physical type and only one standard of beauty. Tall and thin (Garbo) curvy (Bow), flat (Colleen Moore). With women at least, there were few (I can't think of any) skinny stars or sex symbols. I watched Broadway Melody for the first time last night on TCM and I thought Anita Page was hot. I wonder what a modern evaluation of her beauty would be.

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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by Harlett O'Dowd » Wed Jun 06, 2018 12:42 pm

Mitch Farish wrote:Farrell did have all the physical attributes that defined him as a "hunk" then as well as today. And I think it's unfair to characterize him as a bad actor. At worst, he was an uneven actor who could be bad or fine depending on the material and the director. I think he was awful in 7th Heaven - his facial expressions, his gestures, his attempt as playing "blind" in the end, but he was fine if not remarkable in Street Angel, The River, Old Ironsides, and was very good in Lucky Star IMO.
Farrell is jaw-droppingly gorgeous (and barely clothed) in THE RIVER. He's at his best playing man-children - half beefcake, half puppydog. Even with the ludicrous blind scene at the end (less ludicrous than him being wheelchair-bound in LUCKY STAR) I like him best in 7th HEAVEN, because Borzage really captures his innocence/naivete/optimism.

For me, when he tries to be too weak (SUNNY SIDE UP) or too bad-ass (LILIOM) he goes off the rails. His voice didn't help either.

But within his narrow skillset, with the right script and director, he's a welcome presence on film.

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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by Donald Binks » Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:53 pm

Jim Roots wrote: Bushman wasn't plump, he was extremely muscular across the chest and shoulders.

It should be kept in mind that preferences in body shapes change with the times. Theda Bara looks practically obese to our eyes, but not to those of her contemporaries. Similarly, some know-nothing 80-pound so-called "super-"model of today (was it Heidi Klum?) said she would rather be dead than be "as fat as Marilyn Monroe". I don't think there is anyone older than 40 who ever considered MM "fat". She had everything in all the right places. But to today's assless anorexics, yes, MM does look excessively fleshy. YMMV.

Jim
If we take the fifteen minute fame thing as a guide, then we all should be fashionable for a short period in our lives? My wardrobe (closet) if full of clothes which range from monstrously fat to moderately fat...
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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by Javier » Wed Jun 06, 2018 9:03 pm

I have always liked Charles Farrell, it was kind of an uncomfortable experience to watch him at first in Liliom, but I grew to like his talkie style after repeated viewings.
Such a shame The River is not complete, what we have left it's sure to melt a glacier during his scenes with Mary Duncan.

Of course being biased, I like him in every silent I have seen him in.
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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by Jim Roots » Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:42 am

Donald Binks wrote:
Jim Roots wrote: Bushman wasn't plump, he was extremely muscular across the chest and shoulders.

It should be kept in mind that preferences in body shapes change with the times. Theda Bara looks practically obese to our eyes, but not to those of her contemporaries. Similarly, some know-nothing 80-pound so-called "super-"model of today (was it Heidi Klum?) said she would rather be dead than be "as fat as Marilyn Monroe". I don't think there is anyone older than 40 who ever considered MM "fat". She had everything in all the right places. But to today's assless anorexics, yes, MM does look excessively fleshy. YMMV.

Jim
If we take the fifteen minute fame thing as a guide, then we all should be fashionable for a short period in our lives? My wardrobe (closet) if full of clothes which range from monstrously fat to moderately fat...
To be honest, I don't think anyone was fashionable for even five minutes in the 1970s.

You should see the outfit I wore to my sister's wedding in 1974...

Jim

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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by Dave Pitts » Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:21 am

The River was screened at Cinevent (Columbus) maybe 10 years back. I think the print that exists is 42 min. long, and, if memory serves, is missing the ending 3 reels (?) Again, from old memory, the program notes stated that the print was found at 20th C.F. in its present state. The footage that survived looks good and reasonably sharp. Hard to say much about Farrell's acting because the story doesn't resolve, but, as I recall, he plays a rube who falls under the spell of the new girl in town. If anyone has seen the suggestive still that ran in Blum's Silent Screen book, with a (presumably) nude Farrell swimming up to Mary Duncan and talking to her from his side of a boulder -- that scene is in the existing print. The real knockout in the film is the set they built of the logging town, set in a ravine running down to a river. It's one of the super sets that Fox put up in the late silent and early talkie days -- rivaling those in Sunrise and Tess of the Storm Country. Physically, in this film Farrell is at his peak. He and Joel McCrea at this time were the hunks of Hollywood -- sort of like Brad Pitt & Tommy Cruise, back in '95.

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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by Donald Binks » Thu Jun 07, 2018 2:55 pm

Jim Roots wrote:
Jim
If we take the fifteen minute fame thing as a guide, then we all should be fashionable for a short period in our lives? My wardrobe (closet) if full of clothes which range from monstrously fat to moderately fat...[/quote]

To be honest, I don't think anyone was fashionable for even five minutes in the 1970s.

You should see the outfit I wore to my sister's wedding in 1974...

Jim[/quote]

I have only worn full dress to weddings that I have attended - and that style hasn't altered since the 19th Century! It's the same with my dinner suit - I wouldn't be out of place in 1929 in that! :D
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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by boblipton » Thu Jun 07, 2018 3:39 pm

Donald Binks wrote:
Jim Roots wrote:
Jim
If we take the fifteen minute fame thing as a guide, then we all should be fashionable for a short period in our lives? My wardrobe (closet) if full of clothes which range from monstrously fat to moderately fat...
To be honest, I don't think anyone was fashionable for even five minutes in the 1970s.

You should see the outfit I wore to my sister's wedding in 1974...

Jim[/quote]

I have only worn full dress to weddings that I have attended - and that style hasn't altered since the 19th Century! It's the same with my dinner suit - I wouldn't be out of place in 1929 in that! :D[/quote]


Was it at a performance of Charley's Aunt?

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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by Jim Roots » Tue Aug 07, 2018 7:49 am

I've finally finished watching the Borzage/Murnau/Fox set, and I'm a fan of Charles Farrell now ... at least as far as his work in these films is concerned. He is far from a great actor, but give him the right material, the right leading lady, and the right director, and he can be very, very effective. (Yeah, I know, practically anyone could be very effective given all those supports...)

I loved one scene in particular: when he's with femme fatale Mary Duncan in The River, and he sits down in her shack. He's the perfect hick teenaged boy, overgrown physically and completely at a loss socially, without any small talk, agonizingly self-conscious at being alone with a seductive woman. I can't think of anyone else who could hit that note so well, because he doesn't call our attention to his awkwardness. I know the "awkward teenage boy in the boudoir" is a movie cliche, but Farrell is the only actor who doesn't make us know that he knows how awkward he is. He's just completely natural.

He's also excellent in Lucky Star, manipulating his wheelchair with real verve and skill. And when he cures his own paralysis (achieving in a couple of hours what a team of rehab medical experts couldn't do for him in a full year in hospital), he does a manly job of making the best of a ludicrous turn in the script.

The only performance of his that I couldn't stand was in the awful Liliom. One poster here pointed out that he couldn't be expected to do well against Rose Hobart, and indeed Hobart gives one damned peculiar performance. It's like James Cagney playing White Heat against Mae West -- there's no way Cagney would have come off favourably going up against someone so completely out of synch with his style.

Jim

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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by MDJimenez » Wed Aug 22, 2018 3:36 pm

H. David Strauss wrote the following when he was reviewing Heartbreak (1931), one of Farrell's MIA Fox Films, in Billboard: "Another war story, with Charles Farrell in the leading role, supported by Madge Evans,...and John Arledge, and with the Arledge lad walking away with all the honors....Farrell [was] still Charles Farrell, and while the producers have seen fit to cut his dialog as much as possible, having many scenes in which he has little to say, that little [was] still delivered in the same childish manner as the majority of his talking film offerings."

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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by smokey15 » Thu Aug 23, 2018 7:56 am

H. David Strauss wrote the following when he was reviewing Heartbreak (1931), one of Farrell's MIA Fox Films, in Billboard: "Another war story, with Charles Farrell in the leading role, supported by Madge Evans,...and John Arledge, and with the Arledge lad walking away with all the honors....Farrell [was] still Charles Farrell, and while the producers have seen fit to cut his dialog as much as possible, having many scenes in which he has little to say, that little [was] still delivered in the same childish manner as the majority of his talking film offerings."


This post made me curious at to the existence of "Heartbreak". I assumed that all of Charles Farrell's talkies are in existence even though they are not readily available. "Heartbreak" is listed in UCLA's film archives as a studio print listed for preservation.

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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by MDJimenez » Thu Aug 23, 2018 12:47 pm

smokey15 wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 7:56 am
This post made me curious at to the existence of "Heartbreak". I assumed that all of Charles Farrell's talkies are in existence even though they are not readily available. "Heartbreak" is listed in UCLA's film archives as a studio print listed for preservation.
Yes, I saw it was being preserved at UCLA and have been crossing my fingers that it premieres in next year's festival of preservation. I bought a screenplay of it off Ebay just to get an idea of it and read the short story it was based on somewhere on the Internet. One review mentioned that none of the cast seemed very European and were being their usual American selves.

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Re: Did Charles Farrell's acting EVER get any better?

Unread post by TheRedLadder » Mon Sep 10, 2018 5:41 pm

I've recently had a Farrell binge, re-watching Borzage's Lucky Star, Liliom and the remains of The River, as well as Murnau's City Girl. As some of you have already pointed out, Farrell was good at playing strapping yet naïve salt of the earth types who fall for a girl and have to subsequently prove their manhood. Farm boy Lem in City Girl and The River's Allen John are effectively one and the same, both pitted against Mary Duncan in two equally similar, self-possessed roles.

I too found his voice initially jarring, Liliom being the first and only of his talkies I've seen. On re-evaluation however, he gave a fine performance humanising an otherwise unpleasant character, and didn't have much to play off either with a frighteningly inanimate Rose Hobart - "hello carpenter" - as long-suffering wife Julie.

In his famous pairings with Janet Gaynor, of which I've seen all the Borzage silents, he takes a protective role over the diminutive Gaynor, acting as a saviour character in 7th Heaven, Street Angel and Lucky Star, though still facing adversity through disability as 7th Heaven's blinded Chico and Lucky Star's wheelchair-bound Tim, both wounded war veterans.

I believe him a versatile enough actor from the few roles I've seen, though his appeal does seem to rely a lot on his good looks and that hair. The sensitivity he could bring to a role never the less was really quite modern, his masculinity wasn't of the one-dimensional, gung-ho verity seen largely at the time.

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