Last night was another special evening in UCLA's series Archive Treasures: 50th Anniversary Celebration.
The occasion was a double bill of a beautifully restored two-color Technicolor film, FOLLOW THRU (1930), paired with the very first three-strip Technicolor film, BECKY SHARP (1936). Both movies were shown in 35mm.
Some of us in the audience also thought of it as a Frances Dee double bill, as Frances was a noticeable extra in two scenes in the first film, and she was one of the stars of the second film. Several docents from the Joel McCrea Ranch made the trek to Westwood to see the movies; for those who might not be aware, lovely Frances was Mrs. McCrea. It was wonderful to enjoy the movie with them!
Broadway musical centered around women golfers, of all things. The movie includes the original Broadway second leads, Jack Haley and Zelma O'Neal.
Nancy Carroll stars as Lora Moore, a champion golfer who falls for golf pro Jerry Downes (Charles "Buddy" Rogers). Lora's snooty competitor Ruth Van Horn (Thelma Todd) throws up obstacles, but Lora and Jerry seem destined for one another, as do Jerry's boss Jack Martin (Haley) and Lora's friend Angie (O'Neal).
There's not a whole lot to the plot, but this is a charming film I really enjoyed. One of my favorite scenes was very simple, Lora and Jerry listening to the catchy song "A Peach of a Pair," which they also sing themselves at one point. The scene simply consists of their reactions to the lyrics as they fall further in love; the expressions on Carroll's beautiful face are delightful. And I haven't been able to get that tune out of my head!
There's also a wild production number reminiscent of the crazy dance in MADAM SATAN (1930); if that film had been in color it probably would have looked something like this! The dramatic and dangerous-looking use of fire made me gasp.
I've never seen a two-color film look this good; it was absolutely exquisite, filled with gorgeous oranges and greens. It looked like a really high-end Cinecolor film might look, but I've never seen any later Cinecolor that was this beautiful! There are scenes which are like lush paintings, a real wow. The movie would be worth seeing just for the visuals, but happily there is more to it.
I was also impressed with how extensively this 1930 film shot outdoors, given that that could be more challenging in the early sound era. IMDb gives the locations as Palm Springs and the Bel Air Country Club. Coincidentally, years later a street in the Palm Springs area was named Buddy Rogers Avenue in the actor's honor.
In addition to the beautiful color, lovely lead actors, and tuneful score, the movie has some genuinely funny moments -- some of them unexpectedly racy! This is definitely a movie worth seeking out, especially if it's the UCLA restoration on a big screen.
Eugene Pallette is amusing as comic relief. Although I missed her because I was focusing on Frances Dee, Virginia Bruce is also listed at IMDb as one of the locker room extras.
For more on this film, here's a report by Nora, the Nitrate Diva, when she saw the movie last summer at Capitolfest. A sample of her writing: "The film introduces its star, Nancy Carroll, 5 minutes into the runtime with a close-up so delicious that I’d swear it had calories."
FOLLOW THRU was directed by Lloyd Corrigan and Laurence Schwab. The cinematographers were Charles Boyle and Henry Gerrard. It runs 92 minutes.