22 June 2012 | wes-connors
A Salute for Richard Barthelmess
In 1917 New York City, arrogant prizefighter Richard Barthelmess (as "The Patent Leather Kid") is so charismatic, he woos pretty "shimmy" dancer Molly O'Day (as Curley Callahan) even though she has attended a boxing match to root for Mr. Barthelmess' opponent. When the United States joins Europe in the Great War (aka World War I), Barthelmess doesn't show as much interest in fighting for his country as he does in fighting for fame and fortune. He is told, "it's better to be a live champ than a dead soldier." Ms. O'Day tries unsuccessfully to draw out Barthelmess' patriotism. Then, he is drafted...
This film could stand to lose about 30 minutes of its running time; during the early to mid-sections, much is superfluous. The battle scenes are fine, though, except for some initial marching. The end is a flag-waving classic...
"The Patent Leather Kid" is so named due to his slick, combed-back hairstyle, which Barthelmess seemed to prefer for the remainder of his career. This was a big hit for Barthelmess, who gets to use his great ability to make faces throughout; he won a well-deserved "Academy Award" nomination in the "Best Actor" category. O'Day made an impression with her hysterical nursing scene. Stuttering trainer Arthur Stone (as "Puffy" Kinch) and romantic rival Lawford Davidson (as Hugo Breen) lead the supporting cast. Were viewers were slow to find the already clichéd "black-eye" and "chocolate" racial jokes tiresome?
******** The Patent Leather Kid (8/15/27) Alfred Santell ~ Richard Barthelmess, Molly O'Day, Arthur Stone, Lawford Davidson