Sog.: dal romanzo Diamond Jim Brady di Parker Morell; Scen.: Harry Clork, Doris Malloy, Preston Sturges; F.: George Robinson; Mo.: Daniel Mandell; Scgf.: Charles D. Hall; Mu.: Bakaleinikoff; Su.: Gilbert Kurland; Int.: Edward Arnold (Diamond Jim Brady), Jean Arthur (Jane Matthews/Emma), Binnie Barnes (Lillian Russell), Cesar Romero (Jerry Richardson), Eric Blore (Sampson Fox), Hugh O’Connell (Charles B. Horsley), George Sidney (Pawnbroker), Robert McWade (A.E. Moore), Charles Sellon (Touchey), Henry Kolker (direttore della banca), William Demarest (Harry Hill), Albert Conti (gioielliere); Prod.: Universal Pictures; Pri. pro.: 2 settembre 1935
DOSSIER EDWARD A. SUTHERLAND
The reputation of Eddie Sutherland rests upon the W.C. Fields and Mae West films he directed in the 30s. But he was yet another trained by Chaplin. He worked as his assistant
director on two seminal productions, A Woman of Paris and The Gold Rush and witnessed the production of Chaplin’s enigmatic The Professor. The documentation available in the Chaplin Archive confirms that Sutherland’s was the man who orchestrated the spectacular opening shot of The Gold Rush as well as for ‘planting’ the teetering cabin idea into Chaplin’s mind. Sutherland always acknowledged his debt to Chaplin, although one sees relatively little sign of it in his comedies. This dossier will examine his work – surprisingly successful at the box office, despite its relative lack of inspiration – through audio interviews, production stills, archival papers and extracts of films. The screening of two complete features It’s the Old Army Game (silent) and Diamond Jim (sound) will complete the dossier.
(Kevin Brownlow, Cecilia Cenciarelli)
Mr. Parker Morell, author of the late James Buchanan Brady’s biography, has been grossly misinformed about the illustrious Diamond Jim, if we are to judge by the screen biography at the Roxy Theatre. Hastening to fill up the gaps in Mr. Morrell’s research, the photoplay tells us all about the love life of the prodigious eater and walking jewelry window. Among other things, it discovers some startling and hitherto unpublished facts about Mr. Brady’s great feud with Mr. Cesar Romero for the hand of Miss Jean Arthur. Convinced that Mr. Morell was unduly influenced by the facts, the film goes on to add the necessary daubs of glamour to the Brady career. All this is most unfortunate. Diamond Jim suffers both from the fraudulent inventions of its scenario staff and from a certain pious reluctance to tell the whole truth about one of our most authentically American heroes.
It was a triumph of illogic that persuaded Hollywood to improve on the career of the fantastic Irishman, who summed up in his own life the extravagant vulgarity of a whole era when the railroad boom was making millionaires out of clerks and salesmen. That fine actor, Edward Arnold, blessed with his most important screen rôle, is of vast help in giving the work a significance, that is almost totally lacking in the script. Diamond Jim is wholly likeable and entertaining when it is illustrating its hero’s table manners, his arrogant and curiously winning determination to be himself without shame or pretence, and his invincible ability to make friends in all classes of society despite his grotesque social habits.
During its first half the film, in telling of Brady’s rise from poverty to affluence, captures the hearty flavor of the period. Thereafter, though, it goes in for such unpalatable make-believe that it ceases to be either convincing or sprightly. Among its major inventions is the amorously frustrated foursome wherein Diamond Jim loves Miss Arthur, Lillian Russell (Binnie Barnes) loves Mr. Romero, Mr. Romero and Miss Arthur love each other, and Lillian and Jim become the defeated end-products of the romance. The photoplay also is authority for the revelation that Diamond Jim landed in Johns Hopkins Hospital, not as a consequence of stuffing his oversized stomach all his life but because of the injuries he received when he gallantly risked his life to prove the superiority of steel trains.
Andre Sennwald, “New York Times”, 24 August 1935