13 August 2015 | jimjo1216
Silent/Talkie Hybrid from Frank Capra
THE YOUNGER GENERATION (1929) starts as a silent film, complete with synchronized audio track (for music and sound effects), but eventually lapses into an early talkie with spoken dialogue. The scenes alternate between silent and sound throughout the duration of the film. It's an interesting curiosity for film history buffs, as the movie was released at seemingly the exact moment when Hollywood transitioned from silent cinema to talking pictures.
The story is nothing groundbreaking. The Goldfish family rises from the cultural melting pot of the Lower East Side to Fifth Avenue high society, thanks to son Morris (Ricardo Cortez), a shrewd businessman who grows the family furniture store into a successful antiques emporium.
Morris rules his family with an iron fist, forbidding his sister Birdie (Lina Basquette) from seeing her childhood sweetheart from the old neighborhood. The ritzy Fifth Avenue lifestyle stifles Papa Goldfish (Jean Hersholt), who misses his friends from Delancey Street. Morris even legally changes his surname from Goldfish to the less-Jewish "Fish" in order to distance himself from his family's ethnic heritage.
As an early talkie, many of the line readings are a bit awkward, though Basquette handles the dialogue better than the rest of the cast (even Cortez). But even with her naturalistic delivery, the lines are often written awkwardly.
Still, the human drama pulls at your heart. Financial success brings misery to the Goldfish family. Morris is a real jerk, and everyone else in his house suffers as he climbs the social ladder. Cut off from her family, Birdie stitches together a happy little life with her songwriter husband, while Morris obsesses over his social position and leads an ultimately empty existence. Lina Basquette is pretty cute as Birdie and Jean Hersholt's performance is heartbreaking.