15 January 2018 | soren-71259
Chance to see David Sharpe the ubiquitous stunt man
I cannot say that this is a good film. It isn't. But it has some points of interest to engage the lover of old films. First of all there is a chance to see David Sharpe, the Crown Prince of Daredevils, as a leading man. He is alleged to have appeared as story writer, assistant director, stunt man, extra, and actor in more than 3000 movies,and may hold the record for most film associations.
During the film David, who plays a young scamp always in trouble at his school, engages in tap dancing, does an amazing front flip landing on his feet (he was a nation collegiate tumbling champion), does building climbing at the drop of a hat, engages in plate spinning on his hands, and performs plate juggling. One can see why he was always in demand, doubling actors such as Alan Ladd and Tony Curtis (who was the principal speaker at this funeral).
Also during this time the love of David's life was pert, cute Gertrude Messinger (starlet of many westerns) and their kitchen scene together is charming and almost seems like a home movie as they seem much in love. The marriage in real life didn't last long but David, 31 years later, married the widow of Gertrude Messenger's brother (!), who was also named Messenger.
The film uses a mistaken identity plot and deals with a jewel theft (why are those jewels left lying around like that?) and is passably coherent if ultra cheap The plot is basically an excuse for David to behave like a human fly around various buildings and a flagpole. The idea for this must have come from the successful series of human fly poverty row films starring Richard Talmadge, the German stunt man and daredevil who preceded David's foray into action stardom. The human fly building climbing scenes seem almost lifted from Talmadge films.
Another note of interest is the use of an African-American man as a kind of sidekick to David Sharpe, the first time I have seen this done in a film. An actor named Snowflake (really Fred Toones) plays the part of right-hand man and friend to David and this idea may have been the inspiration for the Monogram series with Frankie Darro and his black friend and cohort Mantan Moreland. Indeed David Sharpe bears an absolutely uncanny resemblance to Frankie Darro and both were stunt men. The team of Darro and Moreland, however, is infinitely superior to the Sharpe and Snowflake team and the moronic behavior of the dim-witted Snowflake character is, in these modern times, even more unendurable than those awful performances by Willie Best (aka Sleep 'n' Eat). Darro and Moreland were more of a real team and more equal, even if elements of racism persisted with them, but Snowflake is just hopeless, talentless and off-putting.
In any case this movie holds a bit of interest for film fans and even has a few scenes that intrigue and amuse. I wish there had been more romantic scenes with Gertrude and David but this is a threadbare sub poverty row action film of the Richard Talmadge school. Maybe it is worth a look if you are a true lover of the old and forgotten.
How sad that this energetic individual David Sharpe should contract Lou Gehrig's disease and spend his last days totally incapacitated.