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The Fast Worker (1924);
K–The Unknown (1924)

The Fast Worker (1924)
August 11, 2006 - 7:30 pm

Preservation funded by the American Fi lm Institute Challenge Grant for Film Preservation and The Stanford Theatre Foundation

The Fast Worker (1924)

Directed by William A. Seiter

If the triumvirate of silent comedy kings is Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd, surely Reginald Denny ranks high among the second echelon of that era's laugh-getters. Denny's forte was light comedy, his pictures precursors of the screwball comedies of the '30s that generally fell into one of two camps: the domestic comedy and the marital mix-up romp that came to be known as the sex farce. Early titles for this production (The Lightning Lover and The Emergency Husband) indicate clearly under which category The Fast Worker belongs. Although only mildly risque, it may have been deemed too salacious by the censors, requiring a last-minute title change (The Emergency Husband is its given title in the cutting continuity, which would have been made only when the film was ready for release), and the line of dialogue "I just heard Roxbury say he wasn't the father of their child" having the last seven words removed to make it less objectionable.

The cutting continuity proved invaluable for the restoration, which combined the best sections of two prints, an incomplete nitrate copy of the foreign version and a more complete 16mm print of the domestic version. But bits and pieces still were missing, requiring a few titles to be recreated and explanatory titles made to bridge sections that remain lost. (And since that altered title noted above was an obvious insert, set in a different typeface from the rest of the intertitles, it has been replaced with the one from the continuity.)

Sadly, the Denny persona of the silents didn't long survive the coming of sound, and the actor was relegated quickly to B-picture leads and character parts. But a dozen or so of his effervescent comedies remain in existence, many of them yet to be preserved by the Archive. When finally made available, they will provide today's audiences a better opportunity to appreciate this much-heralded yet little-known comic of the silent screen.

–Jere Guldin

Universal Pictures Producer: Carl Laemmle Scenarists: Beatrice Van, Raymond L. Schrock Based on the novel "Husbands of Edith" by George Barr McCutcheon Cinematographer: Ben Reynolds Editor: John Rawlins Cast: Reginald Denny, Laura La Plante, Ethel Grey Terry, Muriel Frances Dana

35mm, silent, 70 min.

Preserved in cooperation with the Nederlands Filmmuseum, from 16mm and 35mm nitrate domestic and foreign version print elements. Laboratory services by Cinetech, The Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory, Title House Digital, YCM Laboratories. Special thanks to: American Film Institute, Susan Dalton. Mark-Paul Meyer, The Museum of Modern Art Department of Film, David W Packard, Universal Studios.

Preceded by:

Preservation funded by The Stanford Theatre Foundation

Cinema Stars, No. 16 (1925)

Conceived and edited by Ralph Staub Progress Pictures, Inc. Titles by Pinto Colvig

35mm, silent, tinted. 8 min.

Preserved from a 35mm nitrate print. Laboratory services by The Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory.

Preservation funded by the American Film Institute Challenge Grant for Film Preservation and The Stanford Theatre Foundation

K—The Unknown (1924)

Directed by Harry Pollard

Director Harry Pollard (whose identity is often confused with cross-eyed comedian Harry "Snub" Pollard) was one of Universal Pictures' leading directors of the '20s. Pollard was credited with a string of successful films, including K—The Unknown, which was adapted from a popular novel.

In this story about a man with a dual identity, humble gas company worker "K" Le Mayne (Percy Marmont) has a hidden past that mystifies the local gossips in the town of Mayville. As a boarder in the Page family house, K enjoys the company of young and lovely Sidney Page (Virginia Valli), who works as a nurse at the local hospital. Sidney confides to K her desire to marry an ambitious, famous man, although she is courted by local boys Joe and Slim, who spend most of their energies fighting each other. When handsome playboy Dr. Max Wilson (John Roche) comes to work at the hospital, Sidney believes she has found her ideal mate. Sidney and Max's relationship arouses the underlying passions of the people around them, including Max's recklessly jealous nurse, Carlotta (Margarita Fischer), and K himself. With multiple characters who are not what they seem to be, this film explores the gray areas of human behavior and yields subtly affecting performances, particularly from Margarita Fischer (director Pollard's wife).

K—The Unknown is infused with a warm spirit, and is punctuated with light touches of humor. This print is restored from a nitrate print of the foreign version of the film. All titles were derived from the cutting continuity, and recreated in the style of contemporary Universal films.

–Philip ltuarte

Universal Pictures Producer: Carl Laemmle Scenarists: Raymond L. Schrock, Hope Loring, Louis 0 Lighten Based on the novel "K" by Mary Roberts Rinehart Cinematographer: Charles Stumar Editor: Edward Curtiss Cast: Virginia Valli, Percy Marmont, Margarita Fischer, John Roche

35mm, silent, 90 min.

Preserved in cooperation with the Nederlands Filmmuseum from a 35mm nitrate foreign version print. Laboratory services by Cinetech, The Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory, Title House Digital, Triage Motion Picture Services. Special thanks to: American Film Institute, Susan Dalton, Mark-Paul Meyer, Universal Studios.