Sunday, October 18, 2020

Tonight's Movie: Skinner's Dress Suit (1926) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Time for another film from the Kino Lorber Reginald Denny Collection!

I recently reviewed the enjoyable comedy THE RECKLESS AGE (1924).  SKINNER'S DRESS SUIT (1926) was even better, a smartly executed film mixing intricate plotting with amusing physical comedy.

Skinner (Denny) works as a clerk in a firm selling nuts and bolts.  His adoring wife Honey (Laura La Plante) believes her man can do anything and pushes him to ask for a raise.

Alas, the firm is about to lose its biggest customer, Jackson (Lionel Braham), and the answer to Skinner is "no."  Unfortunately Honey is so confident in her husband that she's already planned a celebratory dinner and told her friends about his "raise," and Skinner is embarrassed to tell her the truth.  Instead he lies and says he's received a raise of $10 a week, and Honey then insists he get a new suit on an installment plan.  Honey, meanwhile, gets a new dress.

Things go from bad to worse for Skinner when he's laid off, which he also avoids telling Honey.  Fortunately a couple of social encounters thanks to their unaffordable finery lead to an unexpected solution before Honey can find out the awful truth about their finances.

Denny and La Plante are utterly charming as the adoring young couple who have a cute little house but would love to "upgrade" their living situation.  The two actors engage in some marvelous physical comedy, much of it centered around learning a new dance step.

I also especially enjoyed Honey being smart enough to follow her husband's lead and adapt to curious situations, first when they meet Mr. Jackson at a hotel and later when her husband's employers show up at their home.  The change in her expressions is delightful as we see her initial reactions and then the adjustments she makes following her husband's cues.

One of the movie's strong points was what seemed like a very limited use of intertitle cards.  Lengthy scenes were played with minimal narration, relying instead on the actors' skills to put across what was happening.  The craftsmanship in this regard made me think of Harold Lloyd comedies.

The one aspect of the film I didn't care for was the plot device of Skinner lying to Honey; I tend to find stories centered around miscommunication or falsehoods stressful, but fortunately the longer the 70-minute movie goes on, the more amusing Skinner's situation becomes, and the unexpected resolution is quite delightful.  I think the next time I watch it -- and there will definitely be a next time -- I will enjoy it more as I won't be stressing out on Skinner's behalf!

The movie was a treat, and I'm very much looking forward to WHAT HAPPENED TO JONES? to finish off the set.

SKINNER'S DRESS SUIT was filmed by Arthur Todd.  The supporting cast includes Arthur Lake, Hedda Hopper, Betty Morrissey, Ben Hendricks Jr., and E.J. Ratcliffe.  

The movie was directed by William A. Seiter, who later directed Denny in the first film where he really caught my eye, THE RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD (1934).

Seiter married leading lady La Plante three months after SKINNER'S DRESS SUIT was released.  Their marriage lasted until 1934; shortly after the divorce La Plante and Seiter would each marry the spouse to whom they remained married for the remainder of their lives.

I thought the musical score by Leo Birenberg was excellent.  It added quite a bit to my enjoyment of the movie, which looks terrific on the Kino Lorber Blu-ray.

Like the other films in this set, the disc includes a commentary track by Anthony Slide.

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


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

What a treat!

May I share a day at the Toronto Silent Film Festival last year with Reginald Denny and Skinner?

4:30 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you so much, I really loved catching up with this -- I especially loved all the photos in your post, along with your discussion of the film. What a wonderful time you had!! I would have loved hearing Reginald Denny's granddaughters share their thoughts. I encourage my readers to check out the link.

Best wishes,

12:17 AM  

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