2 April 2002 | tashman
Rod La Rocque: The "Rock" of the 1920s
The title BACHELOR BRIDES is almost completely unsubstantiated by the plot. Sure, constantly smiling Rod La Rocque is getting married soon, and he sure is happy about it, because he's constantly smiling. The genre is mystery-comedy, but this one is more comedy and less mystery, although the mystery aspects are more successful than much of the comedic element. William K. Howard directed La Rocque in this DeMille Pictures Corp production, the same team that brought the excellent GIGOLO together, and while slight by comparison, it is nevertheless a well-made, entertaining film. The settings are spacious, and the actors are uniformly game and engaging. Reduced to bits by Talkies, DeMille favorite Julia Faye gets to show-off skill as a much-disguised mystery woman, and veteran silent player Eulalie Jensen, whippet slender, is humorously frazzled despite an appearance too young to play Rod La Rocque's mother! As in GIGOLO, the leading lady is given little to do, but Elinor Faire does it well, and she's more than fairly attractive. While his voice may have typed him in Talkies, Silent era Lucien Littlefield appearances always surprise and delight, as there seemed to be a broader range for his slight, lanky and often kookie characters. Chicago native (really named) Rod La Rocque is very much at the center of the proceedings, and despite all the smiling he does play with engaging verve. In physical appearance, La Rocque was very Valentino-like, much more so than others in that field: Moreno, Novarro, Alvarado, or Gilbert Roland, and it is easy to see how this young and handsome (and dashing) figure could develop into a reliable heavy in "B" pictures with a little grey and a little moustache added. Of note is the actress/celebrity appearing as a beautiful and apparently thoroughly professional house maid, the incomparable Sally Rand. With that figure filling her uniform, it is hard to imagine this woman ever being mistaken for a boyish Flapper, and, as with Julie Andrews in the opening of THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, this girl's beads are never gonna hang straight.