Sunday, September 27, 2020

Tonight's Movie: The Reckless Age (1924) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

This evening I made my first dive into the new Reginald Denny Collection recently released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.

The set consists of three silent comedies. I watched THE RECKLESS AGE (1924); the other films in the set are SKINNER'S DRESS SUIT (1926) and WHAT HAPPENED TO JONES? (1926), which will be reviewed here at a future date.

I've been interested in Denny since he charmed me as the second male lead in THE RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD (1934) over a decade ago, at which time I also learned about his fascinating second career as the inventor of remote-controlled aircraft; he helped invent the first drones ever used by the U.S. Army, and one of his companies eventually became part of Northrop. The release of an entire collection of his silent films was thus an unexpected delight.

THE RECKLESS AGE was a fun 70-minute romantic comedy in which Denny plays Richard "Dick" Minot, an investigator for the insurance company Floyd's of London (a nice inside joke, playing on the famed Lloyd's of London). Lord Harrowby (William Austin) is concerned that his marriage to wealthy Cecilia Meyrick (Ruth Dwyer) take place, as he needs the money; he spends his last funds to take out a Floyd's policy which guarantees him $100,000 if the wedding doesn't go off as planned, as long as he doesn't cause the wedding cancellation himself.

Dick's job is to make sure the wedding takes place without any problems so that the insurance company won't have to pay out on the policy. On the train to San Marco, Florida, he meets and falls for Cecilia, initially not realizing that she's the woman he must ensure marries another man!

All manner of complications ensue when Dick and Cecilia arrive at the resort in San Marco where her family and Lord Harrowby are waiting, including the theft of Cecilia's heirloom necklace and an imposter (Frank Leigh) insisting he's the real Lord Harrowby...all while Dick alternately woos Cecilia and pushes her away out of loyalty to his employers.

It builds to a frenzied climax in a newspaper office, with a big fight scene amidst newspapers scattering everywhere.

I found THE RECKLESS AGE quite enjoyable, particularly thanks to the handsome Denny's all-around talent; he plays comedy, romantic pathos, and action scenes equally well. He's well matched by Dwyer as the spunky leading lady who tries to convince Dick to propose to her, while simultaneously pretending to be hard to get.

There are a couple cute gags, notably a scene when the train is stopped by what appears to be a dead animal on the tracks; when the camera shifts to another perspective I chuckled out loud at the reveal.

I also have to mention an amazing sequence where a taxi races a train, ultimately crossing the train tracks just ahead of the train; it looks like it was a dangerous stunt that had to have been very precisely timed. I found a blog post indicating it was filmed in California's Santa Ynez Valley, including the info that "the use of the now-defunct Pacific Coast Railway and Locomotive No. 106 might be the only existing footage of this historic railroad and the Los Olivos railroad station in town."

The same blog site indicates that the resort scenes were filmed at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

I've read a couple reviews indicating the other two films in the set are even better, so I'm really looking forward to checking them out, given that I found this a fun watch.

THE RECKLESS AGE was directed by Harry A. Pollard and filmed by William Fildew. The supporting cast includes John Steppling, May Wallace, Tom McGuire, and Fred Malatesta.

Kino Lorber's Blu-ray print is amazingly sharp for a film of this vintage; a few of the shots were so crystal clear that I felt as though they could have been filmed yesterday, they're that good. I also noticed that it must have been cold on the newspaper office set at the end of the movie, as some of the actors' breath shows when they speak!

THE RECKLESS AGE has a new score by Jake Monaco which I thought was good. The movie has a commentary track by film historian Anthony Slide, who also contributed commentaries to the other two films in the set.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger barrylane said...

A fine film and the other two are much more so. especially Skinner's Dress Suit, but both, directed by William Seiter, score, and Seiter directed The Richest Girl in the World, again with Denny, and Joel McCrea, Miriam Hopkins, Fay Wray.

8:42 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Very glad to have your feedback as these titles are all new to me. Very much looking forward to the next two films in the set -- and how great that the same director also did THE RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD which really made me take note of Denny.

Best wishes,

2:10 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older