Saturday, October 17, 2015

Tonight's Movie: The Round-Up (1920) at the Lone Pine Film Festival

Friday evening was another special experience at last weekend's Lone Pine Film Festival, a screening of the silent film THE ROUND-UP (1920) with live piano accompaniment.

THE ROUND-UP, starring Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle and Wallace Beery, is of historical significance as it's believed to be the first full-length feature film shot in Lone Pine.

The restored print of the film was so "hot off the presses" that it was delivered to the festival the morning of the screening! The Library of Congress restoration was partly funded by the Lone Pine Film Festival. The new print is due to be released on DVD in the next few months as part of a 34-film Arbuckle Anthology collection.

It's also of note that THE ROUND-UP will have its premiere on Turner Classic Movies Sunday evening, October 18th, 2015.

I wasn't sure what to expect; given Arbuckle's reputation, I anticipated THE ROUND-UP might be a comedy. The film turned out to be a gentle Western melodrama and romance with lightly comedic moments, and Arbuckle is quite good in what is essentially a supporting role as the sheriff.

The plot concerns Dick Lane (future director Irving Cummings), who's robbed of gold he's prospected and then seriously wounded, leaving his fiancee, the curiously named Echo (Mabel Julienne Scott), to think he's dead.

Dick's friend Jack (Tom Forman), who has quietly loved Echo, courts her, and when a letter from Dick finally arrives letting her know he's still alive, Bud can't bear to give it to her and lose her. Little does he know where Echo's true feelings lie...

Meanwhile Dick's brother Bud (Edward P. Sullivan) becomes involved with outlaw Buck McKee (Beery) and struggles to stay on the straight and narrow, to the dismay of Polly (Jean Acker). The town sheriff, Slim (Arbuckle), has hopes of winning Polly while also trying to set Bud straight. Polly seems as though she might be interested in Slim, but she's also got her eye on Bud.

This was a unique film experience, including the live music, which I enjoyed quite a bit. Some aspects of the movie seem quaint, such as introducing each actor by name when their character appears, but that's also part of the movie's charm. It's a nicely paced story with a good subdued and sympathetic role for Arbuckle, playing a responsible man who's everyone's friend but no one's love.

A couple interesting postscripts -- first, watch for Buster Keaton as an Indian! Also, anyone expecting a cattle round-up, based on the title, won't find one in this movie.

THE ROUND-UP runs 70 minutes. It was directed by George Melford and filmed by Paul P. Perry. The film was based on a 1907 play which starred Roscoe's cousin, Maclyn Arbuckle.

THE ROUND-UP was loosely remade over 20 years later as THE ROUNDUP (1941), starring Richard Dix, Patricia Morison, and Preston Foster.


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Recorder at the ready. Looking forward to the movie, but the viewing can't help but pale next to your festival experience.

I sort of wish they would introduce actors in contemporary films in that quaint old-fashioned way. I don't know who anybody is any more!

6:59 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I know that feeling about not knowing who the actors are these days!

Will be curious to hear what you think about it! I was very fortunate to see it with live piano music, it really added a lot to the experience.

Best wishes,

11:32 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older