The Sunday Intertitle: Luke Out

OK, one last Lonesome Luke film, LUKE JOINS THE NAVY. It seems to be the last one on YouTube, increbibly: they’re all out of copyright so I thought there might be lots.

This one is… short and mostly inoffensive. There’s a little dwarf-kicking, but they expect it, don’t they. The film looks to be only a fragment or truncation. Lloyd shows great agility. There’s even an intertitle, luckily for me, though it looks modern and who knows if even the wording is authentic?

Again, there’s no real difference between Snub Pollard’s character and Luke’s. Why have the little guy at all? When Harold discovered the “glasses character,” who quickly revealed a gentler side, Snub almost immediately became the heavy, which gave him a reason for being there. And maybe it’s OK to have a short, stocky villain? Like Yosemite Sam? Although I think in the later features Lloyd always benefitted from being up against impossible odds, otherwise it was too obvious that the clean-cut boy next door was going to win.

My favourite bit here might be the zero tolerance approach to pathos. Luke definitively loses the girl (an embryonic Bebe Daniels, I think) less than a minute in, and launches into a vile, gurning bawl. An old-timer smacks him hard in the face, and he snaps right out of it and gets back to his knockabout. Good!

3 Responses to “The Sunday Intertitle: Luke Out”

  1. ehrenstein47 Says:

  2. bensondonald Says:

    I suspect a very old home movie release, edited down for a 50′ 8mm reel. The intertitle is a puzzle — besides looking recent it’s unnecessary. Theory: somebody meant to make a copyrightable version by tossing that in.

    What’s really intriguing is that they got use of a real battleship, with somber crewmen positioned as set decoration. The odd upward pan on all the sailors looking at the camera is interesting but pointless; likewise the random insert of men exercising. I’d bet the complete version has (had?) more of such documentary shots, perhaps shot and included as a condition of using the ship.

  3. It’s either a deal with the navy or a naive attempt to show off their “production values”.

    Unnecessary intertitles were quite common, since the filmmakers sometimes betrayed an over-anxiety about whether the plot was clear. This one comes at the point where the characters require motivation, so you could imagine Roach or whoever wondering if the navy recruitment ads made the point forcefully enough.

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