Lights of New York (1928)

Lights of New York (1928)

Early talkie (the first feature length film with synchronous dialogue?) that still uses placards to provide informational setting & character breaks every reel or so throughout it. Unfortunately the quality of the plot is fair to poor and the actors obviously had trouble making the transition from silent films. A lot of the dialogue which is poorly written is spoken stilted and one is able to catch some of the actors mouthing the words of the other in the same scene. It does however feature several recognizably prolific actors including Eugene Pallette Robert Elliot Tom Dugan Tom McGuire and Edward Everett Horton (though I must have missed him) uncredited.

The plot involves two “hick” barbers Eddie (Cullen Landis) & Gene (Pallette whose great voice comes through loud & clear) who work out of a hotel in the “sticks” 45 minutes from Broadway in New York City. The hotel is owned by Eddie’s mom (Mary Carr) who gives her son the money required for him to pursue his dream and his gal Kitty (Helene Costello) in the city. Two boarders at the hotel Jackson (Walter Percival) & Dickson (Jere Delaney) con Eddie into fronting their “speak easy” (an illegal club that serves alcohol during Prohibition never shown) with a barber shop downtown. After 6 months Eddie & Gene regret their decision but can’t do much about it giving that Mom’s capital is tied up in the establishment.

Kitty works in another such establishment run by Hawk Miller (Wheeler Oakman) who’s starting to put the moves on her because his longtime gal Molly (Gladys Brockwell) has gotten too old. Hawk & his gang rob another place of Old Century booze where Hawk shoots & kills a police officer (shown in shadows). He gets the idea to frame Eddie for the murder to have Kitty for himself. He manipulates Eddie and the police (Elliot & McGuire) to accomplish his goal after his two stooges (Dugan & Guy D’Ennery) prove too stupid to do it. However Kitty hears of the plot and calls to warn Eddie. Like the rest of the film the ending is a bit too pat and unsatisfying.

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