Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Free and Easy (1930) Film Review - Buster Keaton

Plot Summary - Buster Keaton talkie about Elvira Plunkett (Anita Page), a small town beauty contest winner, "Miss Gopher City", Kansas heading for Hollywood and travelling with her goofball manager Elmer J. Butts (Keaton) and her very overbearing Mama. On the train she meets handsome movie star "Larry Mitchell" (Robert Montgomery) who brings her to a premiere of his new film, MGM's "The Love Call", at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Soon Elvira and mom are at the studio, watching Larry filming a musical. Elmer has all sorts of trouble getting into MGM and gets himself chased around the lot by a guard, managing to wreak havoc on several films being shot. Larry tries to help Elmer by getting him a small part - but Elmer can't hack his one line "the Queen has swooned". After a Hollywood party, Larry invites Elvira to his place, but turns out to be just a wolf in innocent Elvira's eyes. And Elmer ends up getting a screen test in Larry's film, for the comedy part - soon just about everyone has gotten a part in this film but Elvira! A love triangle with Larry and Elmer both in love with Elvira is in the works too, but gee, that "Larry" sure is a good-looking one.

Review - Okay, here's the good - the film shows a nice glimpse of Hollywood circa 1930, including behind-the-scenes at the MGM studio, outside of the Chinese Theatre, not to mention some neat to see cameo parts by such silent era stars as Jackie Coogan, William Haines, Lionel Barrymore, director Fred Niblo, and more. Robert Montgomery is oh so young and handsome (he's one of my personal faves), Anita Page is charming and beautiful, Buster Keaton made me laugh several times (I thought his dance moves were pretty good too!), even the actress, Trixie Friganza, who plays the Mama is very funny. The bad - the sort of "film within a film" stuff just goes on too long. And by that I mean the movie that everyone is starring in which looks like a complete dud, and they show way too much of scenes being filmed from this - I was getting quite bored with it. Okay movie, not up to Keaton' silents though. Rating - 7/10 stars

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