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Sunday, January 9, 2011

THE NUT (1921)

Douglas Fairbanks is remembered for muscular period adventures like THE BLACK PIRATE/’26 and THE THIEF OF BAGDAD/’24. But he became a star in contemporary comedies not so far removed from the slapstick world of Harold Lloyd & Buster Keaton. (In fact, Buster’s first feature, THE SAPHEAD/’21, was a remake of Fairbank’s THE LAM/’15.) This pic, which he made after THE MARK OF ZORRO/’20, was his last in this lighter mode and it’s great good fun. Doug’s a bit of an eccentric inventor who only wants to please the girl who lives above him. That’s what causes all the problems with the cops, a batch of wax figures, the social ‘haves’ and a gang of con artists. But don’t worry, Doug will leap & fight & disguise himself out of the tightest box. During the fast & furious climax, check out how effectively Doug uses a simple double exposure to reveal his rescue-by-heating-duct heroics. Even the final shot of Doug & his girl gets a twist with an imaginative angle over a judge’s desk, framed by inks wells. And don’t miss those telephone operators: the devil runs the switchboard for the baddies, but it’s a baby angel for Doug. The whole film is one continual grin. Flicker Alley has a batch of these out in excellent DVD editions; thanks guys!

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