1. I adore Charles Farrell. This is one of his silent movies that alas, I cannot find for home viewing. ;( Another is The Rough Riders, directed by Victor Fleming. Mary Astor is the leading lady.

    • Farrell was great, but his speaking voice didn’t quite match his looks — he never seemed as imposing in talkies.

  2. That is true. He had a rather nasally voice with a distinct Massachusetts accent that did not match his big handsome physique. The voice worked better for him in his later years when he played Vern, the dad on My Little Margie, but by then he had added a mustache that give him a bit of a fussy air.

    But watching and listening to Farrell in those early talkies (where the early sound technology did not help) is a rather disconcerting experience. Scenes that are dialogue free, where he is called up to act with his body and face, he’s lovely. Then he opens his mouth and he sounds like the gawky kid from down the block. See Sunny Side Up and The Man Who Came Back as examples. Well, that is, I wish you could see them, the former is available only on VHS tape and the latter only as a bootleg. I did see Sunny Side Up twice at the first TCM festival where it was a big surprise hit — I don’t know why it hasn’t gotten a DVD release. Fox tried to turn Farrell and Janet Gaynor into their version of Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler but it didn’t work since neither Farrell nor Gaynor could sing or dance — though Gaynor is very game in “singing” her numbers — including introducing the standard “(I’m a Dreamer) Aren’t We All” while playing the autoharp, and doing a surprisingly adorable dance to the title tune, “Sunny Side Up.” The movie also has the most eye-poppingly suggestive musical number ever, “Turn on the Heat,” where the chorus girls shed their fur jackets and now in two-piece costumes grind their hips around the giant trees that erupt upwards from the floor. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6HpsIW-u0Q

    The fun really starts at 4:27. The jaw of every audience member at the TCM festival was down on the ground watching this number. 🙂 Gotta love the pre-code era!

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