Archive for Anita Loos

The Sunday Intertitle: Douglas Fairbanks Hearts Miklos Jancso

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2011 by dcairns

Doug, the wonder boy of the silent screen, likes to unwind by meditating upon the long tracking shots of a ’60s Hungarian arthouse epic.

WILD AND WOOLLY (1917), directed by John Emerson and written by Anita Loos, is in many ways a companion piece to the previous year’s MANHATTAN MADNESS (Allan Dwan) — both are posited on east-west contrasts of Wild West buckaroo hi-jinks versus New York metropolitan shenangans, and both involve Doug being caught up in elaborate charades staged for his benefit, making each a prototype of David Fincher’s THE GAME.

In W&W, Doug is a cowboy enthusiast and businessman sent way out west, where the townsfolk try to impress him by putting on bar-room brawls, gunfights, a train robbery and an Indian uprising. This stuff has the delirious, cliche-wallowing strangeness of WESTWORLD. Things get out of hand when the Indians revolt for real, having figured out that an entire town firing blanks to impress a visitor will be a pushover. Now it’s up to the soft Easterner to save the day. Lots of clambering over rooftops, jumping on horses, etc, and a nice moment where Doug gains access to the ammo in his upstairs hotel room by climbing onto a ceiling beam in the downstairs bar and kicking his way through the floor of his room.

The Sunday Intertitle: Get Me To The Church On Time

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on April 10, 2011 by dcairns

Fiona thought THE MATRIMANIAC had the funniest intertitles she’d ever read: the great Anita Loos was the scribe responsible, and they zing with silly wit. When the father whose daughter has eloped with Doug Fairbanks tries to give chase and finds his tyres have been punctured, the title reads simply, “Assorted curses.”

I confess I’m unable to choose between the contemporary action comedies of Doug Fairbanks (THE MOLLYCODDLE is a good one) and the period swashbucklers (THE BLACK PIRATE, THE THIEF OF BAGDAD). Both have their points. I love the spectacle and frippery of the historical farragos, but it’s undeniable that the teens and twenties-set yarns have more energetic bustle and throb, coming close to Keaton in their vision of a rough-and-tumble knockabout Young America, and Doug’s persona can take wing more fully in this locale.

In THE MATRIMANIAC, Doug is attempting to elope with Constance Talmadge (Keaton’s sister-in-law, a good comic in her own right, best-remembered now for INTOLERANCE). Complications ensue when the train leaves with Connie and Doug’s rival, but without Doug. Furthermore, lawyers from her father are en route on the next train, bearing an injunction to prevent the wedding. Doug must commandeer any transport available (railrodder, mule, automobile), writing a sheaf of IOUs as he does so, and kidnap a handy minister so the ceremony can be performed before the heavy hand of the law obtrudes.

At only 45 minutes, this is a peppy little number, well-preserved and showcasing Fairbanks at his most charming. He does a fair bit of athletic leaping and climbing, and even travels from building to building by way of telegraph wires, but his most impressive moment is a leap from the path of an oncoming locomotive, the kind of sure-death stunt no leading man would be entrusted with, post silent era, until the advent of Jackie Chan. Doug makes sure to spin around and pass close to the camera after his jump, just so we can see it was really him doing it.

Intertitle of the Week: Rolling in It

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on September 13, 2009 by dcairns



From THE MYSTERY OF THE LEAPING FISH, and early Douglas Fairbanks short, scripted by the unimaginable team of Tod Browning, DW Griffith and Anita Loos,  in which Doug plays master detective “Coke Ennyday,” a Sherlock Holmes parody who solves his cases using the power of drugs. Scarcely a scene passes in this movie without Fairbanks snorting a faceful of nose candy or injecting himself in the hand. Odd to see such drug humour in a 90-year-old movie.


It’s incredible to think how perfect a match Kevin Kline was for Fairbanks in CHAPLIN — an athletic leading man with a propensity for comedy, Kline has all Fairbanks’ virtues and vices, including a slight air of self-satisfaction (which never bothered me, but you can see how it might bug some). Fairbanks, who must have been pretty clean-living in reality, does the same comedy jiggle in response to all the various drugs he takes in this movie, only varying the degree of motor disfunction displayed. It’s all in good fun. Exciting to picture family audiences lapping up this kind of comedy.


I was looking forward to reporting to you that my participation in the Amazon Associates Program had netted me a tidy profit of ten pence — but on looking again I find the amount has risen to almost £6.54. This is excellent news. I’ve only added a few links to the site as yet. Hopefully they’re not too obtrusive or annoying? Also, it seems that whenever any of you go to Amazon by following one of my links, I get a modest percentage on anything you buy, whether it’s what I linked to or not. So please do all your shopping via Shadowplay. At this rate, when you do your Christmas shopping, you will be able to pay for my Christmas shopping. Which is very nice of you.

At this rate, I’ll be remunerated for all the man-hours I’ve put in here, at minimum wage, by the late 22nd century. Marvelous.

For US customers:

Douglas Fairbanks: A Modern Musketeer (His Picture in the Papers / The Mystery of the Leaping Fish / Flirting With Fate / The Matrimaniac / Wild and Woolly … Mollycoddle / The Mark of Zorro / The Nut)

The Douglas Fairbanks Collection (The Thief of Bagdad/The Mark of Zorro/The Three Musketeers/Robin Hood/The Black Pirate/Don Q, The Son of Zorro)


Oh yeah… Fairbanks also employs a BDSM bellhop as manservant. At least, I think that’s what’s going on. Why the skeleton? I don’t know. Do you need an answer for everything?


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