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Sunday, January 23, 2011

REACHING FOR THE MOON (1917)

Before the big, handsome swashbucklers he’s best remembered for, Doug Fairbanks churned out batches of fast-paced contemporary comedies (eight in 1917!), like this pleasantly silly satire on self-help guides. Here, Doug’s a lowly clerk for a button manufacturer, but he dreams big; an idea man no one will listen to. His girlfriend & his employer are running out of patience with his fantasies when suddenly, they seem to come true. Doug’s the rightful heir to a Ruritanian Princedom! If only his subjects weren’t trying to bump him off or fix him up with a hideous Princess. Scripter Anita Loos (of GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES fame) and her husband John Emerson made lots of these winning pics that retain much of their speedy charm and nicely reflect the mores & moods of a world so near & yet so far. This one has some swell NYC location footage from lenser Victor Fleming who Doug bumped to director to fabulous effect on WHEN THE CLOUDS ROLL BY/’19. And, yes, that’s the same Victor Fleming who’d helm THE WIZARD OF OZ and GONE WITH THE WIND in ‘39. NOTE: Doug used the same title on his stiff, but fascinating early 1930 Talkie. Posters for this 1917 pic are hard to come by, so here's one from the later film.

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