Archive for March 25, 2012

The Sunday Intertitle: A Cop on the Edge

Posted in FILM with tags , , on March 25, 2012 by dcairns

“Uh, I’m just pleased to see you, sir.”

Richard Talmadge, star of THE NIGHT PATROL, was a kind of second-string Fairbanks, known for his stuntwork — he later specialized in second unit work on bigger movies like HOW THE WEST WAS WON.

Talmadge is a pretty bad actor, telegraphing all his effects, and the film is a silly crime melodrama with the hero, a patrolman, going undercover on his own recognizance to clear a young punk (his best girl’s brother) unjustly convicted of murder. In the best Elizabethan fashion, Talmadge’s putty disguise fools the hardened criminal gang he inflitrates, including the guys who already know him as a cop.

Still, the action sequences are exciting and imaginative: Talmadge’s derring-do and derring-don’t-try-this-at-home still have the power to thrill, and the direction of Noel M. Smith, a longtime stable of the B’s, provides the occasional flourish, which is more than you’d expect from the maker of a hundred and twenty five completely forgotten second features. He even provides the villain with a Leonesque squinty eyes ECU.

This scene initially amuses and perplexes because it’s the first time we’ve really seen the hero walk, and he doesn’t seem to be very good at it. But a humorous explanation is soon forthcoming. Then Richard must save the life of a child in a gripping chase sequence, made all the more gripping, I would suggest, by the fact that Richard himself is responsible for endangering the child in the first place.

Nice that the kid is black, even though the story doesn’t require it. Not so nice that they make a couple of slightly insensitive racial jokes afterwards, but they’re not meant with conscious hostility — they’re just a little embarrassing.

And the parrot gets a speech!

“I’ll say so!”