Tuesday 25 March 2008

Spring Fever (1927)

Before Our Dancing Daughters Joan Crawford was still working in supporting roles. Here she is with the second credit but not a lot to do. Fourth on the bill George K Arthur is far more important. He's Mr Waters, who runs some shipping line or other and who far prefers the game of golf. The catch is that dreaming of holes in one doesn't make him a good golfer in the slightest and he has a job hitting the hole on the putting green that takes up most of his office. Luckily for him, his shipping clerk Jack Kelly is a superb player, which he discovers when firing someone.

Instead of getting fired himself by chipping something through a glass window, Kelly finds himself teaching the boss how not to slice, right down an aisle full of vases. His reward is two weeks as a guest at the Oakmont Country Club, far better than the Maple Leaf Municipal Golf Links where he has a hard job getting a round in before work starts. Kelly is played by William Haines, which means that this is a formula story that is far more fun than it ought to be.

Haines tended to play characters way too big for their boots, who promptly alienate everyone else in the story, get their comeuppance two thirds of the way through the movie before finally redeeming themselves in the end. Surprisingly here he's far more likeable than he usually is to start out, but soon he's up to par on the obnoxious front with unwanted advice and more than a dollop of laughing at other people's misfortune. His comedown is a little more subtle here than usual but it's there all the same.

Joan Crawford is the love interest, naturally, by the name of Allie Monte. Kelly discovers her at the club when registering, and falls for her hard. It's always fun watching Billy Haines, one of the most openly gay men in the Hollywood of the 20s, pursue the ladies, especially when other ladies are pursuing him. Someone in the scriptwriting department must have had a sense of humour because there are a few jokes in there that take advantage of what the audiences already knew. One minute he's almost tapping another man on the back end, the next he's 'straightening' someone out.

Haines was always fun to watch and he played the talented jerk very well, even when it's plainly obvious that he isn't a great golfer. At least it's more believable than in the few movies where he's supposed to be a great American football player or a tough Marine. One example of that came next for both Crawford, Haines and director Edward Sedgwick: 1928's West Point. This is more believable and at least as much fun. My only problem with it is that it seems to be quite a bit longer than IMDb or TCM say it is, so my recording missed the ending.

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