11 August 2015 | AlsExGal
Named thus because "Oversized Cover-Alls" is not as dramatic?
I really enjoyed getting a chance to see silent film actress Viola Dana in action in this film at Capitolfest in Rome, NY after hearing so much about her and seeing her spritely interviews in the 1980 documentary "Silent Hollywood". It really is a rather interesting melodrama with Viola Dana in the lead as June. When we first see her she is sitting out in a field wearing a huge pair of cover-alls and the titles tell us she is homeless and hungry. I saw not a pair of blue jeans in sight for the entire film. A flashback shows us she was kicked out of the orphanage for picking flowers on the grounds to put on her mother's grave. A young man, Robert Walker as Perry Bascom, finds her, feeds her, and places her with a couple - The Tutweilers - whose only daughter disappeared years ago when she ran off with a rascal. Perry has come to town to take over the local saw mill.
Now at this point things become as tangled as a later 20th century soap opera. Apparently Bascom is not the name Perry is using because there were some real rascals in the Bascom family in the past and his prospects will be hurt in town if it gets out he is related to them. Not only that, but it turns out that a Bascom is the man that ran off with the Tutweillers' daughter and is thus June's father. Could she and Perry be related? That would be too bad because Perry and June just got married, which is also too bad because Perry was married before to a woman who turned out to have a husband at the time of the marriage, thus Perry's marriage to her was not legal. Yet wife number one shows up in town to claim she is Perry's REAL legal wife. Meanwhile there is a dishonest politician, Ben Boone, who wants to use public office to steal everything in town, including the sawmill. Perry wants to run against Boone and take away his ability to do graft.
I know it sounds confusing, but it is a beautiful little story. And there is a scene at the end where predictably the villain tries to saw someone in half at the saw mill. Who he tries to saw and who comes to the rescue is not so predictable though.
Just a few words about the cast. The actor playing Perry, Robert Walker, was born in 1888. The actor and actress playing the Tutweilers, however, were born in 1877 and 1872,respectively. This is odd because Jacob Tutweiler looks a good thirty years older than Perry, and I thought he looked too old to be playing the husband to the character of Cindy Tutweiller, but she is actually five years older than him! Perhaps it is just a good makeup job, but the ages did surprise me.
Another odd point - When Perry first comes into town he has June on the back of a bicycle. Ben Boone decides he wants to assault the girl and just lifts her off the bicycle in broad daylight! Perry fights him and retrieves June but Ben seems very angry that Perry intervened and threatens to run him out of town. All of Boone's associates saw what happened and acted like it was much ado about nothing. An interesting piece of culture coming to us from 100 years in the past.