Saturday 22 September 2007

Are Crooks Dishonest? (1918) Gilbert Pratt

Bebe Daniels was a star long before she ever met Harold Lloyd and it looks like they co-starred in no end of movies in the late teens. IMDb lists 148 collaborations, though a few of them are compilations or featured footage in later documentaries. I've seen one f her first performances, as Dorothy in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, made as far back as 1910, though unfortunately it wasn't very good.

She's Miss Goulash here, a fake medium working at Professor Goulash's Mystic Temple, and she has a convenient array of costumes, props and secret passages at her beck and call. Enter Harold and Snub, played by Harold Lloyd and Harry 'Snub' Pollard, who are cheap con men making money out of some gag persuading morons to buy mysteriously discovered cheap rings from them. Miss Goulash bests them and even enlists the aid of a cop to take their loot.

Making their escape, they naturally end up taking refuge at Professor Goulash's Mystic Temple and while they try to play her, she gets to have far more fun playing them. Daniels shines but everyone does their job and it's good to see a film where crooks get to out-crook crooks. The production code, that fortunately wouldn't be in effect for over a decade, required that crooks get their comeuppance on screen. How would it have treated this one, where some of them did, but at the hands of other crooks that didn't? Anyway, the con stuff is fun but the slapstick was lacking. It's nearly as short as the last one and that remains too short. I could give you a long list of worse ways to spend thirteen minutes though.

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