Saturday, October 02, 2021

Tonight's Movie: 13 Washington Square (1928) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

13 WASHINGTON SQUARE (1928) is an enjoyable silent comedy which was released on Blu-ray last week by Kino Lorber.

Alice Joyce plays snobby Mrs. DePeyster, who is horrified to learn her son Jack (George Lewis) wants to marry a...gasp!...grocer's daughter!

She fears her standing in the Social Register will be jeopardized and plots to break up Jack and his sweetheart Mary (Helen Foster) by whisking Jack off to Europe, but that plan ends when Jack doesn't show up at the boat.

Mrs. DePeyster sends her impoverished cousin (Helen Jerome Eddy) off to Europe in her place and sneaks back home, having learned that Jack and Mary plan to elope.  She intends to intercept Jack when he shows up at the house for his clothes.

Things go awry when a thief (Jean Hersholt) interested in Mrs. DePeyster's paintings shows up at the house, believing that Mrs. DePeyster and her maid Matilda (ZaSu Pitts) are fellow thieves (it's a long story).  When Jack and Mary show up, things get really crazy...

This was quite a fun candlelit farce with lots of doors opening and closing, mistaken identities, sweet romance, and a bit of a spooky old house feel all rolled into one.  I found it an entertaining, fast-paced 67 minutes which had me smiling.  (Note: IMDb's 60-minute listing is incorrect.)

Joyce was interesting as the steely Mrs. DePeyster, still young and elegant herself.  The 37-year-old Joyce was just the right age to play the mother of a son who was still underage; in real life, incidentally, Lewis was only 13 years younger than his screen mother.  I enjoyed watching her and anticipating how and when her icy demeanor might finally crack.

Foster is sweet as Mary, and Pitts can always be counted on for laughs, whether she's in a silent or a sound film.  Given that it's a silent movie, it was interesting that some of Pitts' laughs were due to her malapropisms, conveyed via narrative cards.  Somehow it works.

It all builds to a really nice final couple minutes which are the proverbial cherry on top.  I liked this film and recommend it.

13 WASHINGTON SQUARE was directed by Melville W. Brown and filmed by John Stumar.

The Blu-ray print is a 4K restoration from Universal Pictures.  It looks terrific.  I was also impressed by the digital score by Tom Howe which was right on point.

The disc includes a commentary track by Nora Fiore (aka the Nitrate Diva) which I look forward to listening to in the near future.

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


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