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His Picture in the Papers

A long and very brilliant joke on the Prohibition mentality, which after all is only a publicity campaign for nostrums.

A very large steak and a very tall flagon of beer are what’s called for after a vegetarian banquet, you meet the girl that way, fleeing the famine.

There is one and only one use for the vile stuff, Prindle’s Prohibition Punch in bottles is good for bashing the brains out of a murderous blackmailing gang known as the Weazels.

Douglas Fairbanks is the Prindle scion, desperate for a half-interest in the foolish firm to satisfy her father the railroad magnate (he’s a Prindle devotee), and that means the title, a hard thing to accomplish.

 

The Mystery of the Leaping Fish

“Coke Ennyday, the world’s greatest scientific detective,” lives in a well-ordered domicile cum laboratory where his rather tall and odd-looking manservant knows the time of day when Ennyday indicates it by remote control on a sort of clock dial or compass of basic opposites, DOPE (N) and SLEEP (S), EATS (W) and DRINKS (E). The master hilarates himself with regular and frequent injections of cocaine as in Wilder’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, and keeps a large open box of it on his desk.

The Chief of the U.S. Secret Service needs his help to capture Fishy Joe, the fabulously wealthy opium importer who sleeps ensconced in a pile of crumpled money and asks his valet to press a few bills when he goes out. Fishy Joe wants to marry Inane, the little fish-blower of Short Beach.

The leaping fish are inflatable beach toys for rent, used to transport opium from a buoy to the shore for transfer to gang headquarters at Sum Hop Laundry.

Douglas Fairbanks as Ennyday samples the tasty opium goop, has a second helping straight from the can, and hops his way like a merry, careless boxer through the rest of this two-reeler from Triangle. The detective’s checkered traveling coat matches his open automobile in a gag adopted by Mel Brooks for High Anxiety.

“The duel in the dark” and the general level of comedy mark this as a Blake Edwards original, while the casual, seemingly informal manner of filming suggests the highest tone of Surrealism. “Story by Tod Browning”, it’s all a cod, the ending shows Fairbanks pitching it to the studio unsuccessfully.

 

Wild and Woolly

This great comedy is built on several jokes, East meets West and vice versa, also the young man thirty-odd years behind the times, and he’s from New York, furthermore the crooked Indian Agent who drops a lighted match into an upturned palm.

All of which makes for the difficulty encountered by Variety’s reviewer, who noted “the laughter it elicited from the trade paper reviewers at a private projection room showing” but concluded “it is farcical entertainment pure and simple”.

Spring, 1917.

Bitter Creek, Arizona.

A modern little town that needs a spur line to work the mines, the railroad president (Walter Bytell) has a son (Douglas Fairbanks) who’s a “nut” on the Wild West of the Eighties, so they humor the boy and dress up, it’s the only way to keep him interested.

They stage a train robbery and an Indian uprising for him, the Indian Agent (Sam De Grasse) makes it real.

The boy has brought real bullets with him, peace is restored.