Sometimes it’s the smaller films that really show you why a performer became famous, “routine” success is surely the mark of a great star and The Matrimaniac possibly says more about Douglas Fairbanks than a host of twenties blockbusters…
The film is a little light on story and even gags but it has enough special Fairbanks-effects to entertain and to have advanced the star power of its lead at the end of his first full year in Hollywood.
|Perpetual motion machine|
The film starts with a bang, well four in fact, as Fairbank’s character Jimmy Conroy, punctures the tires on his potential father-in-law’s car. Jimmy is aiming to elope with young Marna Lewis (Constance Talmadge) hoping to snatch her away before daddy Lewis (Wilbur Higby) can step in.
Jimmy and Marna escape in his car but are pursued by Daddy’s preferred paramour G. Walter Henderson (Clyde E. Hopkins) who succeeds in separating the couple as Jim heads off to get a priest.
|Just missed the train...|
The confused cleric suffers all manner of indignities on their way but… needs must as the groom drives.
|Marna sands up to Pop and weasely Walter|
With the aid of a maid (Winifred Westover), conveniently of similar size, Marna escapes and manages to find the Reverend who has been locked up in the local jail. She returns to the hotel for some reason… maybe she has more faith in Jimmy’s organisation than appearances might dictate.
|Visiting time at the jail|
|"Hello Dutch, I'm up a telegraph pole..."|
|"It's Doug, he's up a telegraph pole!"|
|Constance energy supply|
I watched the version included on the sprawling Flicker Alley DVD set: Douglas Fairbanks: A Modern Musketeer (1916-1921), which is enlivened by a new musical score from Philip Carli.
It’s available direct from Flicker Alley or from the usual, suspect, e-tailers…