Showing posts with label Wesley Ruggles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wesley Ruggles. Show all posts

Sunday, 14 April 2013


In the rush to claim newly opened lands in the Oklahoma Territory, a man takes his Upper Middle Class wife Sabra (Irene Dunn) to the barren prairie to claim his piece of the wilderness. That man is Yancey Cravat (Richard Dix), a polymath with dreams of opening a newspaper in the burgeoning boom town of Osage. As the town thrives, Yancey becomes a local hero and leader but his itchy feet urge him to move on and his adventures out of town leave his wife to fend for herself in the dangerous South West while running his newspaper and raising their children in his absence.

Cimarron won the 1931 Academy Award for Outstanding Production (subsequently renamed Best Picture) and was the first movie to be nominated for seven Oscars as well as the first to be nominated for the ‘Big Five’. In addition to its critical reception, the movie was also RKO’s most expensive picture to date and would remain so for close to a decade. The expense, coupled with the Great Depression meant that the film produced a loss for the studio and didn’t recoup its budget until a re-release several years after its initial release. Despite the large budget and critical success I thought Cimarron was a slightly messy and uninspiring film which left me bored for most of its two hour run time.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Triple Trouble

Charlie Chaplin’s final Essanay film is probably his most controversial. Unlike the controversy his films created in the 1930s and 40s, the controversy surrounding Triple Trouble comes from its very existence. The two reel film was created in 1918; two years after Chaplin left Essanay and was compiled by Chaplin regular Leo White. White directed some sequences and took other scenes from Police as well as the ending from Work and some unused footage from the never completed Life. The result is a hodgepodge of half completed jokes, tired scenes and uneven continuity.

The plot (I think) involves Chaplin working in the house of a scientist/Count (Leo White) as a janitor. Having got into his trademark trouble and briefly bumping into a Maid (Edna Purviance) whose role is not expanded, the janitor finds a bed for the night at a flophouse. While there a pickpocket enters and starts stealing from the residents. The janitor attempts to stop him and then for some reason runs away from the police. Later the janitor meets an old friend who convinces the cleaner to help him to steal from his employers.

Saturday, 28 July 2012


Charlie Chaplin’s penultimate film for Essanay is regarded as amongst the best of his output for the company. The film was actually released after his first film for the Mutual Film Corporation The Floorwalker, over five months after his previous Essanay film Burlesque on Carmen. Another interesting release related fact is that Police released over two years before his finally Essanay film Triple Trouble which was created in part by Chaplin regular Leo White by piecing together unused shots from other Chaplin films including this and the unfinished feature Life.    

Police stars Chaplin as a recently released convict trying to make it in a cruel and hostile world. The initial plot follows along the same lines as much of Chaplin’s work. There were portions of Police that reminded me of Modern Times and the idea of the Tramp struggling to survive was used by Chaplin time and time again. It has been suggested that Chaplin borrowed the plot from Broncho Billy’s His Regeneration for which he had an uncredited cameo and I agree that the character development at least is shared between the two.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

A Night in the Show

For Chaplin’s 12th Essanay film he turns to familiar ground by partially recreating a sketch he first performed in Fred Karno’s theatre company. Chaplin takes the part of two characters. The first is Mr. Rowdy, a working class theatre attendee who turns up drunk. The second is Mr. Pest, an upper class theatre attendee who also shows up inebriated. Both characters get in the way of other audience members and impact on most of the on stage action before one ends the show for good.

The film begins very promisingly with some superb ‘business’ from both of Chaplin’s characters. Rowdy walks down the isle of the dress circle and continues to walk off the edge, having to be hauled back up by other audience members while Pest first cuts in the ticket queue before changing seats much to the annoyance of those around him and finally has a fight with the musical conductor. Unfortunately the rest of the film doesn’t quite live up to the opening five or ten minutes and the volume and quality of the jokes tail off slightly before a return to form in the final minutes.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


A ship owner intends to scuttle his ship and asks his Captain to round up a crew. The Captain in turn hires a Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) to help him ‘Shanghai’ (forcibly conscript) some sailors. This backfires for the tramp though as he himself is Shanghaied. On board ship the Tramp attempts to help out with a variety of different tasks but unsurprisingly is useless at all of them. Meanwhile the ship owner’s daughter (Edna Purviance) has stowed away aboard ship in an attempt to stop the crime of scuttling and save her lover, the Tramp.

After the wonderful highs of The Bank, this film was a huge come down. It is by far my least favourite Charlie Chaplin film to date although there are inevitably some good moments to be found.