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Good References  /  The Poor Nut

Good References
March 4, 2017 - 3:00 pm

Live musical accompaniment provided by Cliff Retallick.

Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by New York Women in Film & Television's Women's Film Preservation Trust and The Film Foundation

Tramp Strategy  (1911)

A mischievous vagabond infiltrates a bourgeois household in this newly discovered one-reel comedy by the pioneering female director Alice Guy.

35mm, tinted, silent with Dutch intertitles, approx. 12 min.  Director: Alice Guy.  Production/Distribution: Solax Film Company.

Restored from a 35mm nitrate tinted print in association with the EYE Filmmuseum, Netherlands and Be Natural Productions.  Laboratory services by Technicolor Restoration Services, The Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory, Fotokem.  Special thanks to: Eastman Kodak.

Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by David Stenn

Peggy, Behave!  (1922)

Baby Peggy, one of the biggest child stars in movie history, does not disappoint in this charming silent comedy, even though it only exists in fragmentary form.

35mm, b/w, silent, approx. 8 minutes.  Director: Arvid E. Gillstrom.  Production: Century Comedies.  Distribution: Universal Pictures Corporation.  Screenwriter: Arvid E. Gillstrom.  Cast: Baby Peggy.

Restored in cooperation with Cinémathèque Suisse from a foreign version nitrate print.  Laboratory services by YCM Laboratories, Title House Digital.

Preservation funded by The Packard Humanities Institute, Barbara Roisman Cooper and Martin M. Cooper

Good References  (1920)

While often overlooked by the lens of contemporary cinema, Constance Talmadge was one of the silent era's most popular and brightest comedic stars, making nearly 50 feature films before retiring as an independently wealthy woman in 1929.  Although big sister Norma became famous playing serious dramatic roles, “Connie” (as her friends called her) realized that her carefree, fun-loving personality was a better fit for comedy, and correspondingly crafted a successful career with a series of breezy, effervescent confections that audiences ate up at the box office.  She became, as F. Scott Fitzgerald once called her, “the epitome of young sophistication—the deft princess of lingerie and love…the flapper de luxe.”

Talmadge initially found fame playing the Mountain Girl in D.W. Griffith's Intolerance (1916), and subsequently set up her own production company (overseen by brother-in-law Joseph M. Schenck) in order to create her own feature films.  Free to choose the scripts she wanted to make, she expressed the philosophy of her filmmaking thusly: “I want comedies of manners, comedies that are funny because they delight one's sense of what is ridiculously human in the way of little everyday commonplace foibles and frailties—subtle comedies, not comedies of the slapstick variety.”

Good References was her sixth and final release of 1920, with a plot revolving around a down-on-her-luck woman named Mary (played by Talmadge) whose lack of references makes it impossible for her to gain employment.  When a friend falls ill, Mary impersonates her in order to take a job as secretary to an elderly socialite.  Things immediately start going downhill when she is tasked to introduce a ne'er-do-well nephew to high society—but ends up bailing him out of a string of scandals instead.

Long considered a lost film, an original nitrate print of Good References surfaced at the Národní Filmový Archiv in Prague, which was provided to UCLA for this restoration.  The Czech intertitles have been translated back into English and recreated in the style of the original production.  —Steven K. Hill

35mm, tinted, silent, approx. 60 min.  Director: R. William Neill.  Production: Associated First National Pictures, Inc.  Distribution: A First National Attraction.  Presented by: Joseph M. Schenck.  From the novel by E.J. Rath.  Scenario: Dorothy Farnum.  Cinematography: Oliver Marsh.  Titles: Burns Mantle.  Cast: Constance Talmadge, Vincent Coleman, Ned Sparks, Nellie P. Spaulding, Mona Liza.

Restored from a 35mm nitrate print.  Laboratory services by The Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory, Pacific Title & Art Studio.  Special thanks to: Národní Filmový Archiv, Michal Bregant, Vladimir Opewla, Karel Zima, Hugh Munro Neeley.

Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by The AFI/NEA Preservation Grants Program

The Poor Nut  (1927)

In combination with changes in social conventions and dress codes, and inspired by best-selling novels about college life, such as Flaming Youth (1923) and F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise (1920), Americans had become fascinated with youth culture by the mid-1920s.  Hollywood and the subject of college life were tailor-made for an audience so obsessed with youth, beauty and sex.  The success of Colleen Moore's now lost film, Flaming Youth (1923), Harold Lloyd's The Freshman (1925), and Buster Keaton's College (1927) provided a foundation for the “the college life” genre.

A common scenario finds the bespectacled, shy bookworm with more talent for learning than athletics, dreaming hopelessly of dating the campus beauty.  She, of course, is only interested in the big man on campus, often also the school's star quarterback.  The Poor Nut follows this pattern closely.  Jack Mulhall plays Jack, a botany student in love with Julie Winters (Jane Winton), the beauty queen of the rival college.  He writes (but never sends) love letters addressed to her, lying about his fraternity membership and athletic skills.  As a prank, one of Jack's letters is mailed to Julie, who responds and wants to meet.  Knowing his dream girl will be looking for him when the two colleges compete in a track meet, Jack has to find a way to measure up to her expectations—and fast!

Rejecting conventional double standards, Julie seeks to indulge her own desires in meeting Jack, a man she hopes may be even more attractive than her current boyfriend, the star athlete of her college.  A former Ziegfeld girl, Winton fits the part of Jazz Age coquette perfectly with her piercing eyes, bee-stung lips, and bobbed hair.  In a rare appearance in a silent film, young Jean Arthur appears as a fellow botany student who admires Jack for his mind.  —Philip H. G. Ituarte

35mm, tinted, silent, approx. 70 min.  Director: Richard Wallace.  Production: First National Pictures, Inc., Jess Smith Productions.  Distribution: First National Pictures, Inc.  Presented by: Joseph M. Schenck.  Based on the play by: J. C. Nugent and Elliott Nugent.  Screenwriter: Paul Schofield.  Cinematography: David Kesson.  Cast: Jack Mulhall, Charlie Murray, Jean Arthur, Jane Winton, Glenn Tryon.  

Restored from a 35mm nitrate print.