Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 1931. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Screenplay by Richard Schayer, Additional dialogue by Robert E. Hopkins, based on the play by C.W. Bell, Mark Swan. Cinematography by Leonard Smith. Produced by Buster Keaton. Production Design by Cedric Gibbons. Costume Design by Rene Hubert. Film Editing by William LeVanway.
Yet another example of the awkward early days of sound, before the technology was sophisticated enough to capture a more natural rhythm of movement and dialogue. Even the brilliance of Buster Keaton is dampened by the process, his scenes of slapstick mayhem still the level of brilliant, smooth technique that he always possessed, while his dialogue scenes show him stiff as a board. He plays a handyman of sorts who is dragged into a marital scheme when a nearby socialite tells her boyfriend that she won’t get married until her acid-tongued older sister finds a husband, as she does not want to leave her an old maid (the sort of social consideration that would have been raucously dated even back then). Keaton is drawn into the scheme but mix-ups occur and he finds himself courting two other women by mistake as well as his intended target; Charlotte Greenwood is the best of them, giving a performance that even this sore old talkie can’t do any harm to. It would be easily forgotten were it not for the legend at its centre.