The Show-Off Film Details
Overview: A blowhard who poses as a railroad executive (but is really just a $30-a-week clerk) catches a young bride and then drives her family’s finances to the brink of ruin.
Review: Wow! What a find! I saw this movie as part of a ‘double feature’ with Clara Bow’s formulaic ‘The Plastic Age,’ (1925) and this is clearly the better film! It stars Ford Sterling (Ford Sterling? Of the Keystone Kops?)– yes! Ford Sterling — who gives a bravura performance as Aubrey Perry, a boastful, lying, pompous, windbag blowhard. Today, it’s easy for us to get quickly caught up in this kind of character’s boastful story telling, because we watch ‘George Costanza’ every night on the TV sitcom ‘Seinfeld,’ waiting and hoping for him to get his comeuppance. It’s easy to play the character too broadly and make Perry unsympathetic and boring, but the good script and Malcolm St. Clair’s tight direction keep Sterling under control. St. Clair is best remembered as the director of a wide load of forgotten films, but he did direct the best of the six (!?) Lum and Abner pictures, ‘Two Weeks to Live’ (1943). Aubrey Perry is a big meaty role — no wonder it’s been done four times! This was the first version of the play “The Show Off,” by George Kelly, the others featured Spencer Tracy as Perry in 1934, Red Skelton in 1946 and the Great One, Jackie Gleason himself, in the TV version in 1956. In all these versions we can easily imagine and hear how they would do the part. But here, in the ‘quaint’ Silent Era, Sterling knows how to makes full use of his mastery of mime, body language and facial expressions to bring the character to life, and he carries the whole film easily. During the whole movie you need to do a lot of lip reading for dialog not in the intertitles, but it’s worth it. When he is explaining how he wrecked his new car (which he won in a raffle, but says he bought by selling automobile stock given to him by his uncle — and it wasn’t Art Vandelay!), Perry’s story telling and gestures look so effortless and natural. This Paramount film has no stagy or herky-jerky motions that we associate with the films of Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, the Sennnett Keystone Kops or early films of the teen years. In fact, if you look at movies from the major studios of MGM or Paramount during the twenties, you won’t see any — just quality film making. There’s only one slapstick sequence, the clichéd out of control automobile (driven by Perry) careening wildly down a main street sending cops scurrying; it goes on a little too long, and seems out of place, given the mood and style of the rest of the film (of course, the scene wasn’t in the play). Because of that I can only give the movie an 8. If you watch it either as an introduction to the glories of quality silent films, or to see Ford Sterling’s best film performance, you won’t be disappointed by picking this one. It’s great! Note: Also featured is Louise Brooks, with her trademark bangs, a few years before she made Pandora’s Box (1929).
Language: None, English
Duration: 82 min
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Also known as: O Fanfarrão,The Show-Off,駄法螺大当たり,Выпендрёж,Før og efter brylluppet