Saturday, August 29, 2009

Doomsday (Rowland v. Lee) ***

Rowland V. Lee

Cast: Florence Vidor, Gary Cooper, Lawrence Grant

Background: Florence Vidor (ex-wife of the legendary director King Vidor) was already very well known by 1928, being one of the biggest stars of the early silent era. Gary Cooper had many credits before this, but they were mostly bit parts, including a minor role in the Oscar winning Wings.

Story: A poor woman (Vidor) taking care of her sick father has two suitors. Percival Fream is an aging millionaire that offers her a life of luxury, while poor farmer Arnold Furze (Cooper) can only offer his love.

Thoughts: This one wasn't on my radar, as it's not one of the notable films from the era, but I didn't want to pass up a chance to see a young Gary Cooper in a leading role. The movie is all standard stuff, but the immensely appealing stars make it work. Florence Vidor is one of the most beautiful of all silent stars I've seen, and a young Gary Cooper just absolutely owns the screen. Lee clearly knows this, and provides us with numerous close-ups of his stars. While the story is pretty predictable from beginning to end, the two stars are so charming that it's impossible not to root for them to get together.

Postscript: Vidor would only make one sound film before retiring from acting for good. Gary Cooper of course would go on to beciome a Hollywood legend with iconic performances in movies such as High Noon, Seargent York, The Pride of the Yankees, and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.

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