Saturday, September 08, 2018

Tonight's Movies: Seven Sinners (1925), Insure Your Wife! (1935), and Goldie (1931) at Cinecon

Sunday was my busiest day at last weekend's Cinecon, as I saw half a dozen feature films and three shorts!

My description of the first half of the day's films may be found here.

I found the third of the four silent films I saw at the festival, SEVEN SINNERS (1925), quite entertaining. It was presented with live musical accompaniment by Jon Miralis.

SEVEN SINNERS was a Warner Bros. film which was believed for years to be a "lost" film, listed by the studio as having been destroyed due to deteriorated film stock. A copy was discovered a few years ago in an "end of the distribution line" location, in this case Queensland, Australia, and has been restored.

Scenes which had deteriorated beyond being usable were filled in with production stills or a written description of the scene, but that didn't come up particularly often and the movie was quite watchable in this format.

SEVEN SINNERS is a mashup of romantic comedy and suspense film, written and directed by Lewis Milestone from a story by Milestone and Darryl F. Zanuck. It's a 76-minute film photographed by David Abel. Incidentally, it has no relationship that I can discern with either the 1936 or 1940 films of the same name.

When security guards in a posh Long Island community go on strike, several burglars target a particular mansion. Molly (Marie Prevost) is a safecracker; she falls for the polished Jerry (Clive Brook) who at first convinces her he's the home owner!

As more and more burglars arrive on the scene (including Claude Gillingwater and Mathilde Brundage), along with a policeman (Fred Kelsey), things get mighty complicated -- and quite amusing, as Molly and Jerry find themselves posing as maid and butler for "guests" -- who are actually more crooks. I liked this one a lot.

The next movie on the schedule, INSURE YOUR WIFE! (1935), was a real curiosity.

This film, which is titled in Spanish ASEGURE A SU MUJER!, was shown at UCLA last fall in the Latin American Cinema in Los Angeles series, but I was unable to see it then, so I was quite glad to have a second chance thanks to Cinecon.

During the '30s Fox made films specifically for the Latin American market, sometimes with an equivalent English-language version. According to Michael Schlesinger's program notes, it looks as though perhaps it was originally intended there would also be an English film version of this script; there are hints of this in that all of the characters have Anglo surnames, and several cast members are bilingual. The most likely explanation for this film only existing in Spanish may be that it was ultimately judged too racy to get past the Production Code in English!

INSURE YOUR WIFE! is a nutty 83-minute screwball comedy in which Ricardo Randall (Raoul Roulien) comes up with a fresh idea to boost an insurance company's bottom line: Insuring that wives won't be unfaithful! This includes company investigators watching the insured to make sure the company won't need to pay out.

It gets a little crazy when Bernardo Perry (Luis Alberni) wants to sneak around on his wife Mona (Barbara Leonard) with Rita Martin (Mona Maris). Meanwhile Ricardo's long-suffering assistant Camelia Cornell (Conchita Montenegro) keeps finding him in compromising situations and despairs of having him all to herself.

This film was pretty amusing, and I also found it historically interesting. The production values are on a par with any U.S. Fox film of the period, and some of the faces in the cast, including Montenegro, Alberni, Maris, and Leonard, are also known to me from English-language films. I was interested to learn that the San Francisco-born, blonde Leonard spoke multiple languages.

INSURE YOUR WIFE! was directed by Lewis Seiler and filmed by Daniel B. Clark.

I don't know how many U.S. made films of this type there are but I'd certainly buy a boxed set of them! I thought this film was a really interesting discovery, along with being a fun watch.

GOLDIE (1931) was the only film of the festival which I found disappointing. This 68-minute film was simply "blah," despite the presence of Jean Harlow.

Spencer Tracy and Warren Hymer play sailors who brawl with each other as they travel from country to country, with Tracy's Bill always getting to the ladies ahead of Hymer's Spike. Eventually Spike falls for Goldie (Harlow) and wants to marry her, but it turns out that like every other woman they know, Goldie once had a relationship with Bill and is not on the level with Spike.

This pre-Code film was something of a yawner. I was thankful it was short! Tracy is unappealing, and top-billed (?!) Hymer even less so. Harlow doesn't show up until halfway into the movie, and she looks more haggard here than she would in her glamorous MGM roles.

One moment which did cause me to sit up and take notice toward the end was recognizing George Raft in a bit role. GOLDIE was made not long before he hit it big.

GOLDIE was directed by Benjamin Stoloff and filmed by Ernest Palmer.

To my knowledge none of these three films are currently available for home viewing in any format.

It was a wonderful movie day! Coming next, my post on the final day of the festival, when I watched THE SHAKEDOWN (1929), THE VIRGINIA JUDGE (1935), and MISS TATLOCK'S MILLIONS (1948).

Previously: Cinecon Classic Film Festival Opens in Hollywood August 30th. (This post contains links to all Cinecon 54 coverage.)


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older