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  • Another amusing social comedy in the Fairbanks corpus as he reforms a bunch of hypochondriacs -- including the woman he loves -- by stranding them on an island and making them take exercise before breakfast. Script by Fairbanks and Anita Loos. It's also the movie debut of character actor Gustav von Seyffertitz.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Down to Earth" is a solidly entertaining Douglas Fairbanks vehicle. Around this time, he had a series of self-help books written under his name, reportedly, mostly for young boys, who were also his most reliable audience for his films (Jefferey Vance and Tony Maietta, "Douglas Fairbanks"). This film serves to give similar advice, in a humorous way. Doug decides to help a group of sanitarium patients become healthy, including the girl who rebuffs his advances. One thing that's always funny about these movies is the unexplained wealth of the lead; in this one, Fairbanks's character travels abroad and then escapes to his ranch to get over the girl's rebuke, and, then, he has no problem writing a check to buy just the patients from a sanitarium. He must be rich, but we never know how. Anyways, Doug decides to stage being trapped on a desert island with his patients to cure them, whether their ill be alcoholism, hypochondria, obesity, or other health problems due to lack of exercise and poor diet. The girl suffers from exhaustion from being a socialite and from smoking a lot-the smoking struck me as odd, since Fairbanks was in real life a heavy smoker, which likely contributed to his early death. Nevertheless, living near nature and using it as an example, to escape ills invented by society seems good advice.

    Besides the appeal of Fairbanks's usual charm and exuberance and a serviceably amusing scenario, Anita Loos again touches up the picture with some witty and occasionally self-referential title cards. In the first scene, as a stock footage pan of a crowded arena is seen, one reads, "No, this is not a Pathé Weekly. It is part of our story. --- We first meet our boy and girl at a football game." Another title card reads, "Now good digestion wait on appetite, and health on both! ---Shakespeare again." Sometimes, Loos's writing gets even more poetic this time. But, I prefer the times when she exposes her films as an artificial construction with the turn of a phrase, such as this last response by one character: "There's nothing to do but go finish our nap - the story's over."
  • Although I am in general an admirer of the early comedies of Douglas Fairbanks and of the work of Loos and Emerson, this particular film represents the aspect of Fairbanks that I find least attractive -the rather facile advocate of optimism and self-help in the approved "boy scout" manner. In addition to this film Fairbanks produced a while stream of little books (ghost-written by the tubercular Kenneth Davenport), expounding his (extremely) home-spun philosophy of life. As his film were particularly aimed at an audience of young males, this "boy scout" image was was also an integral part of the Fairbanks system of self-publicity..

    Davenport owed his tuberculosis in part to Fairbanks' open-air philosophy that he was now employed by a guilty Fairbanks to defend and might serve as a symbol of the somewhat fatuous nature of the Fairbanks philosophy. Fairbanks himself, despite his undeniable fitness and agility, as a young man, would die prematurely worn out at the early age of 58 after famously declaring ""I've never felt better.". He was not in the end quite such a good advert for the "boy scout" way of life.

    Even at his feeblest, Fairbanks exudes charm and energy and the film has a certain distinctive quality that sets it apart from other "desert island" stories. One has to be a diehard Jeanette MacDonald fan or some kind of masochist to prefer the gruesomely corny musical comedy Let's Go Native, part (despite Leo McCarey) of the steady flow of detritus that flowed out of Hollywood in the immediate aftermath of the non-miracle of sound.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This one is basically a one-joke picture which is stretched out to no less than 71 minutes. At least ten minutes could be cropped, especially as the obvious climax is signaled well before the halfway point. On the other hand, it's something of a novelty to see Gustav von Seyffertitz making his movie debut in what is basically a comedy role, even if the japes – which may have seemed fresh back in 1917 – are now definitely rather stale. The idea of a group of hypochondriacs besting their problems when stranded on a desert island has been far more ably and hilariously explored in many other pictures including most particularly "Let's Go Native" (1930). In fact, just about all desert island comedies take their cue from J.M. Barrie's "The Admirable Crichton" which had its Broadway premiere way back in 1903.