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Born a Quaker, Janet Gaynor & family left their native Philadelphia when Gaynor pére died. A stepfather, one Harry C. Jones, an electrician, took the family from city to city, settled in San Francisco long enough for Janet to graduate from Polytechnic High School. A Friendly placidity Janet Gaynor has retained in her less than four years in the cinema. No vixen, her chief characteristic is wistfulness. She is that Hollywood paradox, a lady.
Lonesome. The city awakes. From the skyscraper's tip to the telephone-girl's hall bedroom, to the young machinist's menage the camera sweeps. Comprehensively but incomprehensibly at times, because Director Paul Fejos has seen fit to be eccentric, the symphony of a new day is revealed. The story is relegated to comparative obscurity behind a maze of superimpositions, dissolves and other tricks of the camera. The story is simple. Lonely Barbara Kent and Glen Tryon, phone-girl & machinist, meet, separate, re-meet.
The Night Bird. Reginald Denny is a pugilist who, seeking surcease from a nightclub party, wanders into Central Park, discovers there a weeping Italian girl (Betsy Lee). The little signorina has a cruel guardian, who beats her, bruises her. Righteously indignant, the pugilist offers his protection. On the night of Denny's next fight the little girl is receiving the heavy hand of her father because she refuses to wed the man whom her father had chosen. The whole piece probably is based upon a fancied physical resemblance between Reginald Denny and James Joseph Tunney.
Heart to Heart. At the door of the goldenoak dining room of her Millertown, Ohio home, Aunt Katie Boyd (Louise Fazenda) watched her husband, Uncle Joe Boyd (Lucien Littlefield) entertaining a pretty woman with many a kiss, squeeze, hug. Aunt Katie crept away, bewildered, to a mirror, peered at her plain face, groped for her chair. Here was no display of grandiose histrionics, but only the cameractual portrayal of a homely homebody who finds her husband in the early stage of unfaithfulness. The next shots showed Aunt Katie being inordinately pleasant to her husband, instinctively struggling for her man. Eventually she learned the harmless truth, that the supposed seductress was her niece, who had married a Continental prince. Princess Delatorre (Mary Astor) had told the Boyds she was on her way home, but the Boyds and Millertown expected a grand lady in royal raiment, nor did anyone expect her on the day she arrived. Only Uncle Joe and Philip Lennox (Lloyd Hughes), her handsome onetime sweetheart, recognized her. It was the warm greeting of Uncle Joe to his niece which Aunt Katie mistook for an assignation.
This is not a bad piece. Lloyd Hughes is handsome enough, Mary Astor lovely enough for a cinematic romance; Louise Fazenda, Lucien Littlefield assure practically any piece's laugh content, even when they revert to slapstickery. Called a comedy, the moment of Aunt Katie's discovery of the princess in her husband's arms and her subsequent self-appraisal is one of the most poignant in one of the cinema's best years.
Six cinematic offerings of recent appearance which are above the rank and vile:
4 Devils (Janet Gaynor)—Reviewed in this issue.
The Docks of New York (George Bancroft)—A stoker on shore leave.