Starring Buster Keaton
February 18, 1921
Winchell Smith is given as the author of this Metro production co-starring William H. Crane and Buster Keaton, but old-timers will be unable to dissociate it from Bronson Howard's "The Henrietta," which gave Stuart Robson a starring vehicle 20-odd years ago. Also, Mr. Crane, one of the stars in the celluloid version, appeared in it years ago. It's considerable of a kick-back for the average memory, but even so, and despite the modern interpretation given Bertie the Lamb, the plot remains the same and so does the comedy. Robson played Bertie as a monocled "silly ass" type; Keaton makes him just as much the vacuum who doesn't know what it's all about, but reads and dresses him as a present-day Fifth Avenue goldfish.
Metro has given the comedy splendid production, with sets and appurtenances in keeping with the supposed wealth of the main characters, and the direction is generally good. The author is credited with the personal supervision of the picture, and his notions as to realism may have been responsible for the sparsity of close-ups and the overplus of long shots. But in a house the size of the Captiol, where it had its first New York showing, the action at times is so far away from the spectator as to make the scenes look like miniatures and the characters like pygmies. The lighting also was uneven, with its resultant effect on the photography.
The titles were good and the story well told, with the best part of the picture coming in during the action on the floor of the N.Y. Stock Exchange. Here the director and the junior star hit the high spots, with Buster's talent as an acrobat getting a full and legitimate play.
It is difficult to differentiate between the stars, because both were excellent in their roles. Mr. Crane, as the old Nick of Wall Street, who finds himself burdened with a mush-headed son, is a joy, and brings into this work all of his well known art as a comedian of the old school. Which does not mean that his methods are old, because they are as up-to-the-minute as those of his younger colleague. To see him on the screen is to enjoy a laugh at the expense of Father Time and his late ally, Dr. Osler. If the latter's chloroform theory had become a law, Mr. Crane would have passed out years ago via the etheric guillotine, and the picture generation would have been cheated out of a large part of its birthright.
As for Buster, a cyclone when called upon, his quiet work in this picture is a revelation. He is the personification of a mental minus sign in facial expression.
The supporting cast is acceptable, but the picture, after all, is a two-man proposition, and the fade-out, which left only the stars together, was the only logical finish. A novel touch ahs been given "The Saphead" through the introduction of the characters in silhouette, but it does not lift the production out of the fair program class.
At the Capitol the picture was introduce dby a pantomimic prolog which meant little, if anyhting, to it.
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