GOLF WIDOWS (Columbia Pictures Corp. released May 1, 1928)
Director: Erle C. Kenton, Producer: Harry Cohn, Scenario: W. Scott Darling, Camera: Arthur Todd, Art Director: Joseph Wright, Assistant Director: Eugene De Rue.
Cast: Vera Reynolds, Harrison Ford, John Patrick, Sally Rand, Kathleen Key, Vernon Dent, Will Stanton.
Not to be confused with the two-reel Fox Imperial Comedy of the same name shown at Slapsticon 06, this GOLF WIDOWS is a delightful 1928 comedy feature with a cast Slapsticonians will appreciate and a plot some may find surprisingly familiar. The film opens with Harrison Ford (the first one, not that Indiana Jones fellow, although he’s getting so old you might think it was possible he appeared in a 1928 picture) discovering a naked woman (who better than Sally Rand, minus her famous fans) in the back of his car, and the first couple of reels here play out their own variation of a certain Charley Chase short well known to this audience.
The fact that GOLF WIDOWS followed LIMOUSINE LOVE into the theater just a couple of weeks later makes this obvious swipe all the more-so. However this film then turns off onto a completely different plot involving the Golf Widows of the title (Sally Rand again and Kathleen Key) getting even with their husbands (Vernon Dent and Will Stanton) by going to the Tijuana Horse Races with said Mr Ford and John Patrick, and the wacky things that ensue.
The real treat of GOLF WIDOWS is seeing Sennett second banana extraordinaire Vernon Dent and classic drunken cockney Will Stanton in major roles in a feature, and they make the most of it, becoming a team as they search for their not-so-better halves down South of the Border. Leading Lady Vera Reynolds was no comedy-slouch wither, having apprenticed at Keystone-Triangle and Al Christie, playing Raymond Griffith’s leading lady in THE NIGHT CLUB (1925) and giving a charming performance in the first version of SUNNY SIDE UP (PDC-Pathe’ 1926).
Sally Rand had a middling film career in the 1920’s (including some Educational Comedies) before she became the famous (and apparently ageless) stripper---ah—um—fan dancer. Kathleen Key is well-known to Buster Keaton historians as the actress with whom Buster had a notoriously well-publicized affair and ugly scene on the MGM lot in the early 30’s that hastened his divorce from Natalie Talmadge.
Director Erle C. Kenton was also a Sennett graduate who also made comedies at Roach, Fox, and Universal before becoming one of Columbia Pictures other resident directors besides Frank Capra in the late 20’s, turning out some very interesting features like THE SIDESHOW (1928), COMPANIONATE MARRIAGE (1929) and MEXICALI ROSE (1929) that showed that Mr. Capra wasn’t the only talent on the lot. Kenton continued to be a busy craftsman throughout the 30’s and 40’s, showing an amazing range as he went from comedies like YOU’RE TELLING ME (1934) with W. C. Fields or WHO DONE IT? (1942) with Abbott and Costello to horror films like ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1933) with Charles Laughton or THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN (1942). Kenton was one of those names that kept turning up on a lot of good films, but kept his ego and directorial style in enough check to work within the studio system so efficiently that auteurists today won’t give him a second nod. Yet Erle C. Kenton definitely deserves an appreciation and remembrance which Slapsticon happily gives him today with this screening of this fun and neglected comedy.
RICHARD M ROBERTS
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