Sunday, March 30, 2014

Silent Sundays: It's the Old Army Game (1926)


It’s The  Old Army Game is a kind of silent film where there is apparently a plot but it just seems like there are several short stories running throughout it. There are several comical situations and then thrown in there is a pieced together story.
            The film manly deals with the character of Elmer Prettywillie (W.C. Fields). Elmer is a druggist in a small Florida town. All day and all night people come to him for their ails and wants. One morning a woman incessantly rings the bell to the store. It takes Elmer a few minutes to get out of his deep sleep and get himself together to go downstairs. The pain in the rear woman just wanted a stamp and she does not even pay him the two cents. She gets all the way down the train station in a huff and misses the mail train. She goes downtown and thinks she is putting the letter in a mailbox when it is really the alarm for the fire department. The box alerts the fire department to Elmer’s store. All the firefighters show up and stay even though there is no fire. They stay because Elmer has a pretty young woman named Marilyn Sheridan (Louise Brooks) working for him. All the fire fighters stay around to have a float with her. Elmer manages to get everyone out by setting off another box but he should have kept them around because when he gets back a box of cigars has caught fire!
            In between the beginning and where the, probably, main part of the plot picks up is just some comedic moments. There is one where Elmer is given charge of watching a neighbor’s baby and he just hilarious fumbles with it. Another one has his nephew bugging the garbage out him.
            The big story comes in the form of a New Yorker named William Parker. On the train he gives a speech about how he is selling land in New York for a good price and if people buy the land they will become rich. The train he is on stops in the town Elmer is from. He gets off the train to send a letter but winds up missing it because he sees Marilyn sitting with her aunt in the station. Marilyn sees him staring at her and she leads him on a teasing chase around town. Parker sets up his business in Elmer’s shop at Marilyn’s insistence. Parker makes Elmer his vice president in the land selling.  
            Back in New York City, some detectives are sent to find Parker for being involved in some land scam. They find him and arrest him and the whole town is furious. Elmer drives up to New York City to find Parker to clear things up. Due to some silly circumstances, such as his whole catching fire, Elmer never finds Parker and he is forced to go home. He decides the best thing to do is turn himself to the police back home. He does go to the station but he finds out that Parker is innocent (he had to if he was going to marry the girl at the end) and was roped into the scam and also that all the land that was sold and bought made a lot of people rich.

            It’s The Old Army Game was alright. It got boring after a while. It felt like some of the scenes and jokes just dragged when they could have been much shorter. This was the first time I ever watched a W.C. Fields films. He was funny I liked his gags. The only complaint was that his character was inconsistent he started off as a push over and then just seemed to change with every scene. Louise Brooks is barely in it and I am sure she was just in it for her name and to some femininity to the story. I will suggest seeing It’s The Old Army Game if you are a fan of either W.C. Fields or Louise Brooks otherwise skip it.