Toronto Film Society presented The Gaucho (1927) on Monday, October 6, 1958 as part of the Season 11 Monday Evening Silent Film Series, Programme 1.
The programme will open with Teddy at the Throttle, a Mack Sennett comedy featuring Gloria Swanson and Teddy the Dog. A few years later Gloria was queening it in Cecil De Mille’s society dramas and Sennett was essaying lively and appealing, but somewhat less boisterous features with Mabel Normand. But this is a typical product of the Sennett era when dogs, cats, babies, cops, bathing girls, ferocious wives and henpecked husbands whirled madly about the screen in a seemingly haphazard, but really well-ordered insanity.
INTERMISSION -10 minutes.
The Gaucho (U.S.A. 1927) Starring Douglas Fairbanks, with Lupe Velez. Directed by F. Richard Jones. Camera: Tony Gaudio. Released through United Artists.
The career of Doug Fairbanks may be divided roughly into three periods. The first is exemplified by a series of light-hearted, devil-may-care “modern’ comedies, several of which (especially those written by Anita Loos) were sharp little satires on modes and manners of the day. Two of the best known were Wild and Woolly and When the Clouds Roll By, spoofing Westerns and psychiatry respectively, which were shown in the second season of our Silent Film Series. An excerpt from one of the others, A Modern Musketeer, will be seen on our last programme this season.
The Mark of Zorro was the first real departure from Fairbanks’ accepted sytle, and was such a success that it set off the second period–a long succession of costume films in which swashbuckling romantic adventure and lavish production values were added to the good-humored acrobatics. Of this genre, the Series has previously shown Robin Hood and The Iron Mask.
The third, last and least assured period varied from musical comedy (Reaching for the Moon) to Shakespeare (The Taming of the Shrew). Though he had had stage experience and made valiant efforts, Doug was never entirely happy in the talkie medium which restricted the free flow of movement that was his forte.
The Gaucho, of course, belongs to the second era, and in its first half, has much of the sort of lively, expertly-produced action that had become Fairbanks’ trademark–plus a tempestuous and peppery “romantic interest” in the then new Mexican actress Lupe Velez, certainly a departure from the sedate beauties that usually adorned his films. The later sequences of The Gaucho brought further departures, namely dramatic and religious elements that didn’t go down too well with Fairbanks fans and critics of the day. (In this section, watch for Mary Pickford in a surprise “guest” appearance). However, the earlier passages caused Film critic Pare Lorentz, at the time of the film’s release, to comment: “Doug is truly and more than ever one hell of a fellow!”
NOTE: Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, originally scheduled for the opening programme, will be shown on the final show instead–April 20th. Circumstances, naturally, beyond our control.
OUR NEXT PROGRAMME: (November 17th). Richard Barthelmess in Henry King’s Tol’able David; Georges Melies’ Palace of the Arabian Nights; Charlie Chaplin and Mabel Normand in Getting Acquainted; a Felix the Cat Cartoon; a one-reel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.