Sunday, July 8, 2012

Jason goes to Niles to see THE WHIP and a couple of shorts

It was a 1917 night at Niles, all three films from that year. It was also an animal night, so let's just jump right in:

STEP LIVELY (1917): Harold Lloyd, in one of his first uses of "the glasses character" is chased all over the place by a bulldog, meets a very drunk Snub Pollard, foils a scoundrel trying to rob Bebe Daniels, and faces up against the whole police station. Funny, and very high energy.

TEDDY AT THE THROTTLE (1917): I'd seen this before, and I still don't understand the complicated will with the marriage clause any better. But the important thing is Gloria Dawn (Gloria Swanson) is engaged to her sweetheart Bobbie Knight (Bobby Vernon) but her evil guardian (Wallace Beery) is trying to break them up and have Bobbie marry his (Wallace Beery's) sister so they can keep control of his inheritance. And Teddy is a wonder dog who rescues them all, even after Wallace Beery does the ultimate villainy cliche of tying Gloria to the railroad tracks. Again, funny and high energy.

Then, of course, a brief intermission and then the feature.

THE WHIP (1917): This time the hero animal (ant titular character) is a horse. But there's still a complicated romance and inheritance plot. And a nobleman who gets into a car crash and gets amnesia. And a conspiracy to keep the horse from racing. And a huge train crash (that was copied by Abel Gance for LA ROUE.) And I couldn't follow the plot very well. Turns out there's a reason for this. The surviving print is only 4 reels long, cut down from 8, so it was originally twice as long. And I suspect it was originally better edited and made more sense. As it was, it was a collection of exciting scenes with not a lot of connective tissue.

And that was it. Next weekend is the only weekend of the year when they don't play silent films at Niles (although the museum is still open noon-4 pm) because we all want to be up at the Castro for the SF Silent Film Festival.

Total Running Time: 108 minutes
My Total Minutes: 289,851

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