30 June 2014 | redryan64
Missing In Action
QUITE FRANKLY, WE must confess to never having seen the entire, original 70 minute feature version of this Mack Sennett Keystone Production of A SMALL TOWN IDOL. Is there anyone out there in cyberspace who has screened the whole thing?
WE SUPPOSE THAT it is either very unfair or even impossible to review a movie which is only a fraction of what it was originally. The approximately 19 minutes we have just seen does an excellent job of telling a coherent story, providing its star, Mr. Ben Turpin an excellent environment in which to do his cockeyed thing. The highly abridged short version, which was released in 1939, does stand on its own.
SOMEHOW OR OTHER the rights to this film passed into the hands of Harry, Albert Sam and Jack- the Brothers Warner and was released to the movie houses as part of their regular supply of two-reelers. Thus Ben Turpin, Charley Murray, Louise Fazenda, Dot Farley, Jimmie Finlayson, Andy Clyde and the famous Sennett Bathing Beauties all joined forces with the likes of the JOE McDOAKES Series in filling out the programs.
WE HAD ANOTHER, previous exposure to A SMALL TOWN IDOL. That would be with the 8mm home movies that were so popular , up until the late 1970's. That period, of course, marked the coming of the Betamax and the VHS Home Recorder/Players; which rendered the old 8mm & Super 8 projectors obsolete.
WE HAD PURCHASED this version at our local Sears, Roebuck & Co. store, located at 62nd & Western Avenue. That Southside Chicago location was the sight of many such movie items we bought, back in the day.
EVEN AT THAT period, lacking a lot of experience and knowledge about film, we thought that there was something strange about that one reel home movie version. At first, we couldn't put our finger on it; but then it came to us! There were to many extras, to complex a plot, to many and too lavish a set to be devoted to a 2 Reel Comedy Short! It was 'elementary, Watson!' This version was only a snippet of a feature film.
ONE PECULIAR FACT about these versions of A SMALL TOWN IDOL is the way that it bills silent film star, Ramon Navarro. In the original cast listings, he doesn't rate a mention, remaining uncredited. The 1939 'Short' was much kinder, showing him as being as a principal player; instead of having taken part in a brief, 'movie within a movie', dance ensemble.
THIS REMINDS US of how Rudolph Valentino was 'discovered' doing that famous Tango in THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE.
HOW"S THAT FOR a strange coincidence?