TOO MANY KISSES (Famous Players-Lasky- Paramount Pictures released January 11, 1925)
Director: Paul Sloane, Scenario: Gerald Duffy, from a story by John Monk Saunders, Camera: Hal Rossen.
Cast: Richard Dix, Frances Howard, William Powell, Frank Currier, Joseph Nurke, Albert Tavernier, Arthur Ludwig, Alyce Mills, Paul Panzer, Harpo Marx.
Harpo Marx’s career was full of contradictions, he was a silent comic who didn’t make it big in pictures until talkies came in, and in fact, the only line of dialogue he ever uttered in films was in a silent movie!
Until the fabled Marx Brother silent two-reeler HUMOR-RISK turns up, the only surviving silent film appearance made by a Marx brother (and actually and amazingly, there is another one, because Brother Zeppo also apparently made an appearance in the silent film A KISS IN THE DARK (1925) also made for Paramount at about the same time as Brother Harpo) , is this 1925 Paramount comedy starring Richard Dix shot on the East Coast at the Astoria Studios while Harpo was in rehearsal for THE COCOANUTS on Broadway. Harpo did his scenes as “The Village Peter Pan” in a couple of days, and it was four more years before he was working at the studio again, so no major fires must have been lit with audiences by his appearance.
However, an extended cameo the part may be, Harpo was enough of a name by 1925 to b used in the Paramount publicity, and the pity today is that the rest of the film is pretty much tolerated by audiences until Harpo shows up and it’s a perfectly enjoyable Richard Dix Paramount comedy. Dix plays Richard Gaylord Jr., a wealthy playboy who finds himself shipped to the Basque Country by his Father when Pop discovers that Basque women will not marry outside their race. Well, there’s most likely one who’ll make an exception, especially as far as Richard Dix is concerned, and that someone is Frances Howard, soon to be the future Mrs. Samuel Goldwyn, but playing a peasant girl here who finds her heart won by this outsider despite being engaged to Julio, the Captain of the Civil Guard, played by William Powell, soon to be the future William Powell, but currently an up and coming Paramount supporting player. So go figure all of the complications that ensue, and occasionally Harpo will enter into the fray and do what Harpo does best, funny disruptive schtick. It’s amazing how Harpo appears, looking timeless and fully born, like he’s invaded the wrong movie by some strange design (It would be really cool if Harpo’s Ghost could invade any movie it pleased, that would certainly brighten GONE WITH THE WIND for me the next time I’m forced to watch it if Harpo suddenly appeared, stole Ashley’s hat and gave Scarlet O’Hara his leg).
Richard Dix was one of Paramount’s top stars of the 1920’s, handsome, athletic, intelligent, a versatile all-around leading man, capable of light comedy or straight drama. In 1925, he starred in an amazing seven features for the Studio, including another fun comedy called THE LUCKY DEVIL, as well as playing an Indian in the film version of Zane Grey’s THE VANISHING AMERICAN. Dix’s popularity continued into talkies when he moved to RKO in 1929, he was even nominated for a Best Actor nomination in 1931 for CIMARRON. Dix continued as a popular star for RKO throughout the 1930’s, and after freelancing for a few years in the early 40’s, settled down at Columbia to star in their series of WHISTLER mysteries, still stretching his acting versatility as he switched gears playing good-guy or psycho-villain from picture to picture. Health problems forced his retirement from the Screen in 1947, and he passed away from a heart-attack at the age of 56 in 1949.
So enjoy TOO MANY KISSES for what it is, an engaging light comedy turned into a diverting hour by some deft players, that manages to be invaded by a Comedy Legend for a moment or two.
RICHARD M ROBERTS
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