5 September 2013 | SilentType
A Riotous Curiosity
Given the many errors in his review, the late F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre had obviously not seen this film. It's therefore a shame that decided not to give this enjoyable curiosity the benefit of the doubt.
The film starts in deceptively conventional fashion. Hapless little Elmer (Buck Black) is in love with Hattie (Jean Johnston), who declares that she would not marry him 'even if he were the last man on earth'. The devastated Elmer swears off girls for life.
The fun really begins when we skip to the distant future of 1940, when the major threat to mankind is not World War but 'masculitis', a disease that has wiped out the whole adult male population. Men are but a distant memory, gangs of skirted thugs fill the speakeasies, and the President (female, of course) is more interested in her cats than in running the country.
By 1950, the brilliant scientist Dr Prodwell (Clarissa Selwynne) has found a cure, but the fact remains that the women are now pining for the company of men, and none more so than the doctor's flapper daughter (Marie Astaire) - and yes, there are still flappers in 1950!
When an aviatrix finds the now-grown Elmer living in the wilderness as a hermit, his discovery is a sensation. Ernest is no less terrified of women than he ever was, but before long, his hand in marriage is being auctioned to millionairesses and fought over by congresswomen, who stage an all-ladies boxing match on the floor of Congress! The riotous conclusion makes Buster Keaton's 'Seven Chances' look like 'The Dating Game' - and of course, the grown-up Hattie (Derelys Perdue) finds herself revising her opinion of Elmer ...
Despite some gutsy female characters it's a stretch to find any feminist message lurking behind this film, and the concept doesn't quite stretch to fill the full seven reels (in particular, the aforementioned boxing match would have benefited from cutting), but its offbeat nature and outlandish future fashions are so much fun that it hardly matters.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable and totally unpredictable romp. Given that its sound remake, 'It's Great To Be Alive' (1933) is a lost film, I can guarantee that you'll never see anything else quite like it.