28 September 2012, 7pm
Ticketing information, bookings (02) 6248 2000
Dir: Victor Fleming, USA, 71mins, 35mm
Gentle giant Joe Easter runs the store in Mantrap, a sleepy Indian trading post in southern Canada. Fondly remembering the US city of Minneapolis was the place of 'my last thrill … in 1906—when I seen a girl’s ankle’, he decides to head over the border to catch up on life in the big smoke. To his own surprise more than anyone else’s, he catches flirty good time girl manicurist Laverne (Clara Bow) on the rebound from taking too many lumps from too many Sugar Daddies. Joe takes her back to Mantrap as his bride. She’s deeply fond of the big lug. But cut off from her natural role as the centre of male attention her head is bound to be turned when jaded New York society divorce lawyer Ralph Prescott stumbles into Mantrap – under the illusion it’s the best place to get away from women. Flapper embodiment Clara Bow was best known as the ‘It’ girl, but this was her favourite amongst comedies she made in the late ‘20s, many with Victor Fleming (of course later credited for 1930s Hollywood’s two great blockbusters, The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, but with a career that went back to the 1910s). The source was the now largely forgotten novel Nobel prize winner Sinclair Lewis published between Arrowsmith and Elmer Gantry, later both the subject of much tonier screen adaptations. However screenwriter Ethel Doherty (one of the new unappreciated corps of women screenwriters who specialised in this sort of sparkling comedy at the end of the silent era) is wisely kinder and more forgiving to the characters than was Lewis, especially its women. Almost as dazzling is the cinematography of the great James Wong Howe, in the film where Bow’s luminous lighting helped establish his reputation as an ‘actor’s cinematographer. Live musical accompaniment by Mauro Colombis. Courtesy the Library of Congress.
Presented with the support of the Embassy of the United States.