James Cruze directed and some fella name of Howard Hughes produced a film that was as brave in its subject matter as his previous film with Meighan, The Racket, which dealt with the thorny topic of Al Capone and the Mob who no doubt took as close an interest in their fictional representation as the KKK who then numbered some four million members across American society.
|Thomas Meighan - maybe more Mitchum than Wayne on second thoughts...|
She and Meighan have a great chemistry especially when he’s manhandling her into her car and away from his libido as she tries to wrap herself around him.
Whatever her origin – British, really? – the woman had skill and here is able to act herself out of the un-promising scenario of being a bride for hire at Ellis Island immigration in a story line so modern it hurts: these people coming over to our country and upsetting the Clan etc. She melts into the frame in contrast to Evelyn’s bolder intrusions (as Brooks said, her opening gambit was often to adopt The Stance and fire forth…) and even with a relatively limited amount of screen time – a lot happens – she wins sympathy and also convinces as a romantic partner for Thomas M who is about as romantically convincing as John Wayne.
|Renée not from Lille|
Lon and Rose were made for each other and share the same desire to absolutely be with someone else as often as possible. Rose still carries a candelabra for Mr Hatton whilst Lon’s carrying on with young Jessie (Helen Foster) and moonlighting as a leading light in The Order, dressing up in black hoods (not white: black) in order that The Order may maintain order.
|The exterior shots are well made.|
Not a promising start to any relationship but, but… once you’ve seen Catherine cook breakfast, bath a piglet and, astonishingly, swim around with fewer clothes than Hedy Lamarr five years later… you’ll understand why the big lug falls for her.
But… there will be other complications too complicated to mention here: a suicide, some incriminating letters, the Order flogging to the wrong conclusions and much more.
|The Order keep order|
Kevin Brownlow introduced reading from an essay full of his personal recollections of the film makers – he’s a personal emissary from the era that transfixes us.
|Will Rogers and his ropin'|
The things dropped back a few millennia for a double-dose of Ben Hur… and what a difference two decades can make. The original Ben from 1907 was shot from a static camera which failed to capture even the majesty of a few horses against a painted backdrop whereas the 1925 is genuinely epic in a way that still stands against its CGI-drenched remake.
|Mass spectacle in 1907...|
But not everything in the huge arena was as it seemed, the upper tiers of the Circus Maximus were formed of small figures hand-operated to create the effect of a living crowd with the camera shooting the models close-up to give the seamless effect seen on screen.
|...and in 1925!|
Another enlightening evening in Kennington – thank you to all at the Bioscope.