Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The 12 Days of Carole Lombard: The Silent Era

While the majority of her career was in the talkies, and certainly they're what she's most known for, Carole Lombard had quite the career in silent pictures. Mostly shorts, with a few full length ones to boot. Some are lost, but many remain, and for the last day of this = I'll be looking at a few...

The Campus Vamp

The Campus Vamp is a pretty funny college flick. It's not the most complex of things, with a plot simply concerning a boyfriend with a wandering eye for the seductive maneating blonde. The story is honestly not that well paced or written, feeling more like a backdrop for gags. It's far too thin, nothing really happens, and there are no consequences for anything. Just because it's only a 10 minute film, doesn't mean you don't need to try!

Where the film succeeds is in the dialogue. The humour here is often funny, and = enjoyable

There's a ton of characters here, but they're largely incidental

Most impressive about this for its time is the colour! There's a pretty (if occasionally overly yellow) stencil colouring, which gives a nice watercolour feel to the proceedings.

The Campus Vamp feels like it flies a little too close to the sun though. It gives us this wonderful colour, then it takes it away from us = minutes before the end! I naturally didn't mind the black and white before this, but to be given colour only to have it suddenly yanked away feels disorienting, and makes the ending, the most important part of the film, feel not as important as the cricket match.

This is hardly a perfect film, but the entertaining comedy helps it climb beyond being subpar.

Matchmaking Mamma

Matchmaking Mamma s a thoroughly enjoyable little picture. It's sweet, funny, and tells a simple but effective story, full of your typical romantic misunderstandings.

The plot concerns the McNitt family, with a domineering stepmother intent on marrying her daughter off to the handsome young Larry Lodge, and her husband Cornelius, whose sweet and innocent daughter Sally has just returned from a convent, and is looking for love. She quickly falls head over heels for Larry, and vice versa, and together the two weather through all sorts of misunderstandings, such as when he sees her reunion with her father and thinks it's a lover's reunion*, or when Sally's mother whispers cruel rumours into her ear.

*On one hand it's somewhat creepy that Larry mistakes a  father and daughter for a romantic couple, but Sally does not help this by kissing her dad on the mouth!

Running at a longer 20 minutes, and having a simple more streamlined plot than The Campus Vamp, Matchmaking Mamma is able to fully realise its plot, and is never short on anything happening. On the contrary, it's stuffed to the gills!

While the comedy here is for the most part quite innocent, though one scene is is jawdroppingly salacious! It's almost out-of-place, but I'm certainly not complaining! Anything to see a bit of 'that'/...*ahem*, that, from 1920s beauties!

The acting is all fine, from the romantic leads (Sally Eilers and Matty Kemp), while Daphne Pollard and Johnny Kemp are an amusing pair. Carole has a short but distinct role here, as the stepmother's daughter Phyllis. I actually wished the character appeared more, because the movie spends its whole first half talking about/mentioning her as if she's a main character, but we don't properly see her until nearly the end.

The film looks very nice. The country estate setting is great, and feels like a nice rural treat, giving the audience a fancy =. The colour sequences are good too. Thid handles colour transitions very well. We only get short bursts, and they don't feel out of place with the black and white sections.

The version I watched has a more recent score from the 80s, by copmoser Lee Erwin. It's a classical organ piece that feels right at home with the movie, and complements it perfectly.

Matchmaking Mamma is a funny and romantic short film. Cheesy even for the 1920s I'm sure, but when's that a bad thing?...

The Campus Carmen

The Campus Carmen tells of a girls dormitory's attempts at getting a new play up and running.

The characters are all a lively bunch, and just as impossible to tell apart, given the sheer amount of them. While they're = individually, they're still fun in numbers. It's fun seeing how the girls misbehave and fight like mortal enemies, yet all band together to make this stage play a reality, and a rip-roaring success

The Carmen stage play takes up the majority of the film, and it's amusing to watch when things go right, and when things go wrong. It's very much a roll-with-the-punches performance for these girls, who are playing to a public none the wiser that everything on stage is just about on its last legs, and think all the malfunctioning props, unwitting intruders, and uncooperative animals are all part of the show.

The ending however is incredibly abrupt, with no resolution for anything. We don't even get to see the end of the stage play! We just see the (quite frankly overlong) duel with the cow finally come to an end, then BAM, 'A Mack Sennett Comedy', get the hell out of the theatre.

The comedy here is quite good, from the pillow fight at the beginning, to how these =, hosting an all-girls rendition of Carmen, are so determined to stick by that that even the bull is a 'lady'!

Carole Lombard technically doesn't have a small role here n the sense that her part is just as big as everyone else's. There are a lot of actors here, with Daphne Pollard getting he lion's share of screentime, though Carole gets a fun swordfight!

The music here is very jaunty, and always makes you feel like humming along, and joining in on the fun.

Overall, The Campus Carmen has its issues, but it's a harmless enough film

Run Girl Run

Run Girl Run is a pretty amusing sports comedy, with a dash of romance sprinkled in. Thrown in is actually more apt, since it eats up quite a fair amount of screentime. The romance doesn't take itself the least bit seriously, but the ending is hilariously sweet, [with Carole winning the race to run into the arms of her beloved.]

The comedy here is pretty funny, although some of the gags left me a bit cold, since the plot was basically being interrupted dead in its tracks for them, and I was actually enjoying the plot! Thankfully it does eventually get back on track (figuratively and literally).

Both Lombard and costar Daphne Pollard get plenty of back-and-forth comedy setpieces, and these are all entertaining enough. It's not just them though, as supporting characters and even random ones all get their moments. Though some of the humour doesn't land as well, like a couple of jabs at the fat girl. I briefly thought she might get her own back at the end and win the race, but no.

Run Girl Run has quite a gaggle of girls! It's a very athletic movie, with pretty young women running, jumping, and vaulting all over the place. They're quite impressive, too! Clearly Mack Sennett wanted a reminder for his viewers that these girls weren't just pretty faces!

The film has a nice enough piano score, although it feels a bit ill-fitting during the track meet section. Pianos can do many things, but they cannot sound sporting.

Run Girl run could probably have done with some trimming in the editing room, or some expansion to give it more meat, but overall it's a fun movie. I think the plot could make for a nice full length movie too!

No comments:

Post a Comment