Posted by vp19 on 2015.05.04 at 07:33
Current mood: amused
For today’s final day of The Shorts Blogathon, hosted by Movies Silently, my contribution is a Carole Lombard two-reeler. (Surprised, huh?)
It ranks among Lombard’s most popular short films, first because it’s reasonably funny, second because it shows Carole as active and athletic — as she is so often, a woman ahead of her time. Moreover, many of us were introduced to the silent Carole through this film, as an excerpt was used in Robert Youngson’s first compilation, 1958’s “The Golden Age of Comedy.”
We are, of course, referring to…
…”Run, Girl, Run,” probably filmed late in 1927 and released in mid-January 1928.
Carole had turned 19 in October and was only a half-decade or so removed from winning all sorts of athletic awards from what was then Virgil Junior High School (the school is still around, though it’s now known as Virgil Middle School), so that skill — in addition to her beauty — is what led Mack Sennett to cast her as a college track star in this short. (Her character is named Norma Nurmi, an obvious takeoff on Paavo Nurmi, the Finnish track star of the 1920s who won nine Olympic gold medals.)
Norma not only is talented, but a bit vain and flirty as well, particularly with her boyfriend attending a military academy next door.
It’s up to her coach Minnie Marmon, played by diminutive Daphne Pollard, to keep her in line.
The night before the big track meet with their archrival, Carole/Norma — looking exceptionally stylish, even in her late teens — tries to sneak out of her dorm to see her beau:
However, the coach captures Norma, who feigns doing calisthenics while communicating with her boyfriend…
…and sends her to bed for the night — off with her stockings:
Meanwhile, the college dean is, as a title card says, “keeping an eye on his students”:
Norma escapes, then has to head back…
…but climbs a ladder right into the dean’s bedroom…
…leading coach to issue a gentle reprimand to the dean about such practices:
As for Norma, she makes it into her room safely:
Time for the track meet — and those apparently are real extras, decades before CGI:
Norna’s powder-puff vanity catches up to her in her first race, when an opposing runner catches and passes her:
With the meet tied entering the final race, Norma has an opportunity to atone — and does:
It’s time to celebrate victory:
“Run, Girl, Run” has many humorous moments, but some of the jokes don’t hold up today. One features a cat having its paws stuck on bunion pads — something now seen as animal cruelty — while there’s also a hoary racial gag involving a black handyman and chicken. Also, Carole’s big and tall friend Madalynne Field was the target of some mean-spirited jokes about her weight. None of these transgressions were mentioned in a review of the two-reeler by the Motion Picture News on Jan. 14, 1928:
Note Carole is spelled with an “e” here (as it was in the credits); it would not be temporarily dropped until she worked for Pathe rather than Sennett. Some other items of the review also draw interest: There apparently were some two-strip Technicolor scenes in the original version of the film — perhaps this tableaux was shot that way — but not available on the current version found at YouTube:
I’m guessing Lombard wasn’t part of these scenes. (Several of Carole’s other two-reelers where she was shown in Technicolor have survived in their entirety.) Also, nothing in the version of “Run, Girl, Run” currently available has any reference to Pollard needing to win to save her job.
Here’s a link to that YouTube version — it’s issued in two parts, but the first part automatically leads into the second: