What Happened?

What happened is this — I hauled myself back to Bo’ness on Friday and saw Dreyer’s MASTER OF THE HOUSE (exquisitely played dry comedy) with John Sweeney on piano (also exquisitely played) and Reginald Denny in WHAT HAPPENED TO JONES, directed by William Seiter and accompanied (98 years later) by Neil Brand (piano) and Frank Bockius (percussion) which was a riot.

Young woman behind me started the show emitting occasional polite little laughs, purely social: as if she was aware the film was humorous and she wanted to show the right spirit. Half an hour in she was helpless with hysteria, trying to HOLD IT IN, for fear that she might be laughing more than the proper amount.

And then there was a party, with the result that, taking into account the difficulties of getting to and from Bo’ness at just the hour one would like, we’re missing a Charley Chase double bill this morning because it’s simply impossible, but we’ll be soaking up multiple shows today.

After thirteen years of Hippfest, Bo’ness has actually gotten even harder to get to. Nearby Linlithgow is dead easy to reach by train, but the buses from there are extremely intermittent and stop in the early evening, so without the festival’s marvelous shuttle bus, there’d be no way for the carless to escape at all. Still, this FORCED me to stay for the party.

WHAT HAPPENED TO JONES is available to buy in one of Masters of Cinema’s Early Universal sets.

Today’s treats include Rin Tin Tin in WHERE THE NORTH BEGINS and Conrad Veidt (and Homo the wolf) in THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.


4 Responses to “What Happened?”

  1. Judy Dean Says:

    My first visit to Hippfest was long before the shuttle bus so, for the reasons you describe, I drove there. I discovered that Bo’ness was hard to find, run down and, at night, deserted and slightly intimidating. I had foolishly thought that on arrival I would find somewhere for an evening meal. I ended up eating a Tesco sandwich in my car with the doors locked. I went again a few years later, but it was pretty much the same. The Hippodrome is a lovely cinema, and I’m sure things have changed as the event has grown, but since then it’s been Hippfest Online for me.

  2. Oh, the eating possibilities have improved ENORMOUSLY. The opening of McMoo’s ice cream parlour alone has transformed the experience.

  3. bensondonald Says:

    Here in the states Universal offers “The Reginald Denny Collection”, which includes JONES, SKINNER’S DRESS SUIT, and THE RECKLESS AGE, all restored and with commentaries. SKINNER, seemingly more highly regarded than JONES, is a polite sitcom about Mrs. Skinner joyously spending a non-existent raise. The oddly named RECKLESS is the old “Love Insurance” plot: insurance man must guarantee that girl he loves marries policy holder. It’s brightened with nice comic moments and a final blaze of lighthearted fisticuffs.

    Denny rates a chapter in “The Parade’s Gone By”, and there’s a charming anecdote of Brownlow screening SKINNER for the Denny family. Denny’s silent stardom was as an All-American Boy, until sound exposed his British accent and made him a character actor.

  4. A proto-Cary Grant of the silent era, perhaps.

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