Sunday, May 25, 2014

It's the Old Army Game - A round-up of reviews

It's the Old Army Game, Louise Brooks' fourth film, was officially released on this day in 1926. The film is a comedy about a small town druggist who gets involved with a Florida real estate scam. This silent film is extant and can be found on unofficial VHS and DVD releases.

The film stars W.C. Fields as Elmer Prettywillie (the small town druggist), Louise Brooks as Mildred Marshall (his assistant), Blanche Ring as Tessie Overholt, and William Gaxton as George Parker. This Famous Players-Lasky Corporation film, based on the screenplay by Thomas J. Geraghty and J. Clarkson Miller, was directed by Edward Sutherland (Brooks' future husband, and Blanche Ring's nephew).

The film received generally positive reviews, though some criticized its "thin plot." The film proved somewhat popular while playing all over the United States. Many critics praised Fields, and just as many noticed Brooks, especially when she wore her bathing suit. Here is a round up of magazine and newspaper reviews and articles drawn from the Louise Brooks Society archive.

Eddie Sutherland and Louise Brooks on the set of It's the Old Army Game (1926)
anonymous. "W.C. Fields, Comedian Howard Film Star." Atlanta Constitution, May 23, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks, a little lady who promises to create nothing short of a sensation because of her portrayal as the girl Fields would like to marry, gives a mighty fine performance."

anonymous. "Pictures Playing Atlanta This Week." Weekly Film Review, May 26, 1926.
--- review; "There was considerable good acting on the part of the star, who was ably supported by Louise Brooks and William Gaxton."

Helm, Carl. "Army Game is Amusing Picture." San Francisco Examiner, May 31, 1926.
--- ". . . and the gloriously-wrought Louise Brooks . . . Miss Brooks has nothing much to do but look lovely in a swimming suit, no difficult task for her."

anonymous. "Hilarious Comedy Is Featured at Strand." Modesto News-Herald, June 1, 1926.
--- "Then there is the piquant pert little Louise Brooks featured along with Mr. Fields. She contributes a performance second only to that given by the star."

Starr, Jimmy. "New Comedy In Old Army Game." Los Angeles Record, June 5, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks is evidently very proud of her comely figure. This is the third picture in which she has worn that black bathing suit. However, Louise is a clever little actress."

Craig, Betty. "Many Attractions Are Booked For the Week." Denver Post, June 6, 1926.
--- "In the meantime the young fellow from the big town has fallen in love with the lovely creature that serves as the store's only clerk, who is none other than the captivating Louise Brooks."

S., W. R. "Views and Reviews." Film Mercury, June 11, 1926.
--- "A new actress has broken into pictures in the name of Louise Brooks, she shines like a gem in the rough."

Irvin. "Fine Comedy Film Showing at Palace." Washington Herald, June 21, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks played in Ziegfeld's Follies when Fields was running wild with Ray Dooley, et all. In this picture she has the feminine lead, and she surely confirms all promises of being the movie 'find' of the season."

McCormick, Ella H. "Reel Players." Detroit Free Press, June 21, 1926.
--- "Fields scored a splendid triumph in this picture. A great part of the success of the offering, however, is due to Louise Brooks, who takes the lead feminine part."

Marsh, Ward W. "Fields Whole Show in Allen." Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 21, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks and William Gaxton carry what is generaly known as the necessary love interest. Gaxton amounts to nothing, but Miss Brooks parades the personal magnetism to the limit, and late in the story is found wandering around in a bathing suit - for no sound reason except to display a form which assuredly needs not bathing suit to set it off. There is no complaint, however, on the appearance in the bathing suit."

Adams, Carl B. "Photoplay Reviews." Cincinnati Enquirer, June 28, 1926.
--- "Next to Fields, the chief attration of It's the Old Army Game is Louise Brooks, one of the most promising finds of the season. All that she has to do to make a hit is wear a bathing suit, which she does in this picture."

Patton, Peggy. "Fields Pleases in Comedy Film." Wisconsin News, June 28, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks, Blanche Ring and Rose Elliot are the featured players. Each contributes a very good bit of acting."

Service, T.O. "Service Talks." Exhibitor's Herald, July 3, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks is the other important person in the picture and, as insinuated rather bluntly on the occasion of her first appearance - in The American Venus - she's important. Miss Brooks isn't like anybody else. Nor has she a distinguishing characteristic which may be singled out for purposes of identification. She's just a very definite personality. She doesn't do much, perhaps becuase there isn't much to do but probably because she hits hardest when doing nothing, but nobody looks away when she's on screen. If Miss Glyn should say that Miss Brooks has 'it,' more people would know what Miss Glyn is raving about. But in that case she would not be raving. "

Hall, Mordaunt. "A Clattering Farce." New York Times, July 5, 1926.
--- "Mr. Fields's clever and energetic performance is helped along by the attractive Louise Brooks."

McGowen, Roscoe. "Fields-Brooks Picture Lacks Real Sunshine." Daily News, July 5, 1926.
--- "The picture is worth going to see just to look at Louise Brooks, one of the most ornamental young persons we have on the screen."

anonymous. "It's the Old Army Game." Variety, July 7, 1926.
--- ". . . a chance for Louise Brooks to strut her stuff. Miss Brooks photographs like a million dollars and shows a screen personality that's 'there.' This girl is going to land right at the top in the picture racket and is a real bet at this time."

anonymous. "W. C. Fields and Pole Film at Mosque." Newark Star-Eagle, July 12, 1926.
--- "This picture not only affords a good deal of typical Fields comedy in a suitable story frame, but also reveals the possibilities of Louise Brooks, Follies girl who is making decidely good in the cinema. . . . All told, Fields need not regret his first Paramount production. Louise Brooks, with a touch of piquancy, a good range of registration, and the conception of restriant, is pleasing as the heroine."

Sherwood, Robert E. "The Silent Drama." Life, July 29, 1926.
--- "Mr. Fields has to carry the entire production on his shoulders, with some slight assistance from the sparkling Louise Brooks . . . ."

anonymous. "W.C. Fields, Comedian, Aids The Old Army Game." Portland Oregonian, August 16, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks, the pert young woman who will be remembered for her work in The American Venus and A Social Celebrity, the latter with Adolphe Menjou, has the lead role opposite Fields. She poses a bit. An excuse was found to get her into a bathing suit too, which wasn't a bad move, on the whole. . . . By the way, Edward Sutherland, who directed the picture, has just married Louise Brooks." 

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