From MANHATTAN MADNESS, directed by Allan Dwan, where Doug Fairbanks complains of the inferior quality of violence available to the sophisticated gentleman in New York, as opposed to the prairies of Nevada.
Doug has come East to negotiate the sale of some horses to the mysterious Count Winkie (a man so mysterious he hasn’t considered changing his name), and finds himself the recipient of a crazy plot involving kidnapping and much athletic climbing about on the outside of a house.
After the visual splendor and economy of A MODERN MUSKETEER, this one seemed unambitious and primitive, but then it was made a year earlier — during which time Dwan honed his craft on twelve or so movies. Also, my copy of this one played much too fast, rendering the fisticuffs chaotic and the cutting stroboscopic. Perhaps post-1916 re-editing was also to blame, since the IMDb gives Winkie’s name as the more sensible Marinoff. Somebody may have tried to turn this from light comedy adventure into slapstick farce. Weirdly, the plot felt like five minutes’ work, while the intertitles seemed redolent with wit and likely the product of long hours’ cogitation. A strange set of priorities, somebody had.
Still, Doug is as irrepressible as ever, and winks at the audience at least three times, which is good enough for me. He is the real Count Winkie, and the biggest media winker prior to Superman. I’m working my way up to the really celebrated Fairbankses — THIEF OF BAGDAD, ROBIN HOOD, THE GAUCHO, THE IRON MASK, WHEN THE CLOUDS ROLL BY…