Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum and sees A WOMAN OF THE WORLD

The series of movies shot in Pleasanton continues, but first a couple of shorts.

LIZZIES OF THE FIELD (1924): Billy Bevan in a Mack Sennet comedy. He's a mechanic in a fight with the auto repair shop just across the street. Wacky hijinx ensue, and the rivalry can only be resolved through an even wackier car race. Every car gets destroyed, and it's pretty hilarious.

SLIPPING WIVES (1927): The Niles Film Museum has also been doing a series of shorts starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy before they were a team (both were working for Hal Roach, but Roach hadn't figured out to put them together yet). At the time, it was advertised as a Priscilla Dean comedy. She plays the wife, Herbert Rawlinson plays her husband, who barely pays attention to her. She hatches a plan to find a man who will woo her, making her husband jealous. Enter paint deliveryman Stan Laurel, who immediately runs afoul of the butler (Oliver Hardy). She ends up paying Stan to "make love" to her (although it involves just flirting and a little snuggling, so I assume it meant something different back then). And wacky hijinx ensue as the result of Stan mistaking the family friend Winchester Squirtz (Albert Conti) for the husband. Pretty funny, and it's pretty obvious that Stan and Ollie had excellent comic timing together.

Then intermission, and the feature presentation.

A WOMAN OF THE WORLD (1925) stars Pola Negri as a European countess who just had her heart broken. Even though she tattooed her beloved's crest on her arm, she catches him kanoodling with another woman. Heartbroken, she goes on vacation to the small American Midwestern town of Maple Valley (Pleasanton), where she has a cousin Samuel Poore (Chester Conklin, an odd comic choice. The pairing makes the movie swing from melodrama to slapstick comedy a little inelegantly). While Maply Valley has small town charm, it also has small town gossip and small town moralist hypocrisy, led by Attorney General Richard Granger (Holmes Herbert). It's a fish out of water comedy, a comedy of manners, a love triangle, and a surprisingly modern satire of small town America (I could easily imagine modern politicians still holding up Maple Valley as an example of "Real America" while failing to notice the message about the moral hypocrisy).

And that was last night in Niles. Today (Sunday, Oct 11) at 4 pm there's a Laurel and Hardy/Our Gang spooky shorts show. And next weekend the Pleasanton movies continue with Rod LaRoque in GIGOLO. The October 24th show is a Halloween comedy shorts night, then the 25th they have WATCH HORROR FILMS, KEEP AMERICA STRONG along with HARDWARE WARS.

So there's a lot of cool stuff in Niles for Halloween. See ya there!

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