Archive for September 18, 2022

The Sunday Intertitle: Slippin’ Jimmy

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2022 by dcairns

So, having been rather busy, this week I unexpectedly got 25% busier, but that’s OK. Light blogging until the end of the month, I suspect…

Maurice Tourneur’s ALIAS JIMMY VALENTINE from 1915, is a seminal work. Tourneur reprised a climactic sequence — a high angle view of characters running through a kind of maze — in 1935’s JUSTIN DE MARSEILLE.

The star is Robert Warwick, a stage actor whose dignified presence lends itself to the serious roles he played in Preston Sturges comedies (he’s studio boss Mr LeBrand in SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS). The cast also includes one Robert Cummings, but not the one we know, the yet-unborn Butcher of Strasbourg. I’ll add this ersatz Cummings to my list of duplicates, along with the bogus Harrison Ford (1884-1957) and the fake William Holden (1862-1932). Although maybe, since all these guys came first, it’s the more famous versions we should be hailing as impostors.

The familiar story by O. Henry allows Tourneur to film on location in Sing Sing, by permission of the governor, who gets the first credit at the films beginning for his troubles. It’s a story of redemption or reclamation of regeneration as they quaintly called it, thus likely to appeal to those in charge of the incarceration business (which was not yet as much of a profit-making concern as it is now). Tourneur indulges his propensities for lowlife atmos and slashing shadows. Tourneur was really making the best American features of this era. Compare this movie to Walsh’s more celebrated THE REGENERATION or Griffith’s BIRTH OF A NATION and it’s indescribably more modern in appeal.

You can watch along here:

I think I’ll treat it as a serial, blog-post-wise, as I did with LORNA DOONE. A way to keep the blogging muscles in trim without spending hours at a busy time…