22 November 2018 | sb-47-608737
Could have been excellent.
The plot and the narrative is better than good, for its simplicity.
Newell, as the street-vendor, who thinks the spot he had been using for selling his balloons as his own, is natural, in the character as well as the behaviour. We see this often by those who claim the place their own, by longtime use even if sans Official endorsement, and when someone comes with the letter of allotment of his space, the resentment is natural. Sometimes it is violent, and sometimes when the law and order is strict, a bit subversive, as in this move.
Jean (Gaston), as Mimi (Anita)'s childhood friend, who wants to be her sweetheart, but she thinks as brother, is the bone in this pudding, and unlike most bones I see, the character, and its portrayal, had not been too jarring or villainous. The other bone, Fifi (d'Avril) the night club dancer, who quite naturally wanted to convert Tobey (Newell)'s artistic skit into cabaret act, had been many shades darker, but believable.
There are two points which bring down the merits of the movie.
First is that despite looking lovely, the heroine Mimi (Anita) was just too young. She was in real life just about 14 or 15 then. The character she played was 16 (and by the end, since the movie traced more than a year, she would have been 17 to 18), but she looked hardly 12 or 13. Not the age to fall so desperately in love. In fact she even behaved quite a few times like a child, that she in real life was. Whereas Newell (25 then), looked almost of avancular age for her, may be for his physique, Gaston (a few years older) looked younger.
The second and more damning was the trying to squeeze in the tale, which resulted in seemingly discontinuities. Of course that could be result of editing, to cut it down to size, since the direction, or the story telling, in the segments was alright. It just left a feeling that it could have been just a bit stretched, to fill these gaps, rather than leaving it to the viewer to fill those in. This also, in my opinion, helps in building the characters, a few of whom (especially Fifi), didn't get enough space to do that, though her behaviour and acting could compensate, but it would have been better if she was allowed to do it, on screen.
Overall- this movie had been far better than many of the movies I had seen of this era of talkies in their infancy. I could watch it through without the need to fast-forward or postponing.
And yes, as pointed out, there had been quite liberal use of French, though that didn't jar.