Original version with subtitles
A Park Avenue novelist (Alan Dinehart) fishes a street urchin (Sally O’Neil) out of a Lower East Side night court to serve as a model for a character in his new book. The resurrection of this small but engaging social comedy, restored by The Museum of Modern Art from the sole surviving original element – a badly damaged nitrate print – means that all of Ford’s extant sound films have been returned to circulation. Among the film’s memorable moments is an evidently authentic pitched battle between the tiny O’Neil and the patrician Virginia Cherrill (the blind flower girl of Chaplin’s City Lights) that could be the perverse passage in Ford’s oeuvre. Although the material might at first seem inimical to Ford (the film is a remake of a 1919 vehicle for Alla Nazimova), he introduces a point of connection in the yearning of Dinehart’s younger brother (played by Ford regular Frank Albertson) to leave the suffocating world of New York society behind and take over the Western ranch left him by his late father. Ford’s mise-en-scene is inventive throughout, and includes a sequence involving a swinging camera effect that this writer would like to think was inspired by the trapeze sequences in Murnau’s lost Fox film 4 Devils, while an opening montage – a shadowy swirl of cops, criminals and society swells pouring into a night court in Lower Manhattan – suggests that Ford and cinematographer Joseph August had also absorbed the lessons of the Weimar crime films as practiced by Lang and May.
Cast and Credits
Sog.: dalla commedia omonima di Maude Fulton. Scen.: Sonya Levien, S.N. Berhman, Maude Fulton. F.: Joseph H. August. M.: Alex Troffey. Scgf.: John Ducasse Schulze. Int.: Sally O’Neil (la trovatella), Alan Dinehart (MacMillan Forester), Frank Albertson (Stephen Forester), Virginia Cherrill (Angela), June Collyer (Jane), J. Farrell MacDonald (Timson, il maggiordomo), William Collier Sr. (il giudice), Margaret Mann (la governante), Albert Gran (il vescovo), Mary Forbes (signora Forester), Louise MacIntosh (Lena). Prod.: William Fox per Fox Film Corporation DCP. D.: 67’. Bn.
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