Wednesday, September 16, 2015


It's too bad that Griffith's original 1914 version of this film (featuring the cream of the original Griffith players who would pretty much disperse before 1916 was over and done with) is lost for good, but at least his remake in the form of a 1928 "seriocomedy" survives to thrill all five of us old moom pitcher fans extant. Far from being the cinematic turdburger some evil types have led us to believe, THE BATTLE OF THE S*XES is a sit down and kick up yer feet goodie starring the future Dr. Christian himself Jean Hersholt as this fuddy-duddy midaged fambly guy (complete with the dumpy yet devoted wife and the teenage kids who make Cookie and Alexander Bumstead look like Karen and Richard Carpenter) who falls for the most OBVIOUS of golddigging flappers (played by Phyllis Haver) out to get her paws on a big hunka that real estate moolah that got Hersholt a nice front page story inna local paper. With the aid of future VOICE OF HOLLYWOOD host Don Alvarado (doing a nice sleazy acting job worthy of Willy Castello) Haver sinks her slutzy fangs into Hersholt so deep that he's actually giving wifey the ol' working late story while whooping it up with his cotton candy-haired ho', and mommy actually believes it!

Of course the jig is up about halfway through the pic when the kids decide to take mother out to a swank restaurant where you know who is doin' the smoochie smooch with his fresh fish hatchery and is caught red (or maybe even white) handed in the process. (And even then mom's in total denial thinking that hubby had just tied on a few too many that evening and wasn't thinking properly---sheesh!) As any normil hornified guy with his head on straight would do, dad moves out on the clan upsetting mum to the point where she's on the brink of jumping off the apartment roof only to be rescued at the last moment by who else but daughter (nice shots simulating the gravity pull there, D.W.!) at which point the distraught teenbo decides to handle matters her way, mainly by heading over to the slut's penthouse apartment and placing a few well-directed pieces of lead through her relatively flat chest in the only way of saving face she knows about!!!

Nice old timey melodrama here that ain't as cornballus as one would expect even a late silent like this to be, and even though the twenties was a period in film history when Griffith was definitely "out of time" and perhaps "touch" as well I find this 'un as easy-sitting as a variety of late-period silents that I used to espy on such shows as THE SILENT YEARS and OLD MOVIES, THE GOLDEN ERA back when television (even your local PBS station) used to really matter.

And for being the master of Victorian stuffiness Griffith lets himself loose here throwing in some funny scenes that actually do seem in place even if you're not gonna upchuck laughing at it all. Best of all it looks good, the acting is good even though the mother seems to be a little too old time sensitive for my stomach (kinda reminds me of the mom in that "Surprise Cake" episode of THE LITTLE RASCALS who was just too emotional to be allowed to live), the teenage daughter (Sally O'Neill) is actually cute enough that you wouldn't mind skinnydipping with her, and even the modern day musical score doesn't make ya wanna crap. Woulda been a great way to spend a mid-seventies evening tuned into PBS, but at least we now have other ways to get our old timey jamz in, right?

1 comment:

Bill S. said...

Anyone who makes a Willy Castello reference is a friend of mine!