Sog.: from the musical of the same name by William Anthony McGuire e Otto Harbach. Scen.: Tom Gibson. F.: Victor Milner. Mus.: Cheerful Willoughby. Int.: Eddie Cantor (Samuel ‘Kid’ Boots), Clara Bow (Clara McCoy), Billie Dove (Eleanore Belmore), Lawrence Gray (Tom Sterling), Natalie Kingston (Carmen Mendoza), Malcolm Waite (Big Boyle). DCP. D.: 62’. Bn.
At first glance, one might think a film adaptation of a Broadway musical in the silent era would be somewhat pointless, but Kid Boots proves otherwise. Its theatrical run was a rousing success – nearly five hundred performances between 1923-1925 with another thousand road performances after that – and catapulted Ziegfeld favorite Eddie Cantor to national stardom. Cantor played a wily golf caddy/bookie/bootlegger at a swank country club and sang most of the more than twenty-five songs in the show. In 1925, Paramount purchased the rights to Kid Boots for $75,000, and signed Cantor to reprise the title role for what would be his first motion picture. But rather than cast Cantor’s stage co-star Mary Eaton, the studio assigned Clara Bow, one of its ingénues who was just finishing the film that would make her a star, Mantrap. Kid Boots was extensively re-written and physical comedy added to account for the removal of all the songs; Cantor was now a tailor’s assistant who is eventually forced to hide out at a golf resort, all the while wooing swimming instructor Bow. From all accounts, Cantor and Bow got along splendidly – he helped hone her comic timing and she taught him how to act for the cameras – and their chemistry pops off the screen. By the time Kid Boots opened, Bow was a major star due to Mantrap, while her next film It would make her a sensation. Kid Boots also launched Cantor’s highly successful career as a movie and radio star; unlike Bow, greater fame awaited him in the talkies. This 2017 restoration by the Library of Congress combines a nitrate print in its Paramount Collection with a safety fine grain kindly provided by Paramount Pictures. Special thanks to David Stenn for his support.