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Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Ford's Romance Of The Stock Companies


Upstream (1928): A Silent Gone Missing Till Now

A batch of busted actors and vaudevillians in a boarding house where none can afford rent, this a common thread through any pic that portrayed theatrical life, but done nicely by worker bee John Ford, who must have been thinking of this when he later referred to his movies as "jobs of work." Well, here's demonstration that those jobs were often very well done, and that so-called routine Fords are well worth close exam now that more of them are turning up. The director lends real character to these roustabouts; I didn't find myself forgetting who was who despite a parade of them being introduced. Tropes among stage folk as depicted in later movies may have been introduced here, such as a dining table where food is withheld from deadbeat renters, a scene duplicated in 1942's Yankee Doodle Dandy. Did Ford go see that Warner hit and take a silent bow? Upstream's cast is non-stellar, but all acquit well. Ford to my knowledge didn't travel with stock companies or otherwise experience their lives, but he shows understanding of struggle and ego endemic to the trade. Upstream came back from oblivion thanks to discovery within New Zealand vaults. The latest Treasures DVD has it along with much others formerly lost. A real must-have disc.

3 Comments:

Blogger lmshah said...


The other thing going for UPSTREAM is a great comic lead performance by Earle Foxe, who had been starring in Fox's THE ADVENTURES OF VEN BIBBER IN SOCIETY comedy two-reelers, where he basically played an American Bertie Wooster. These comedies are actually pretty good,and Foxe makes them even better. He had also starred in Fox's THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (1924)which has been making the festival rounds the last few years.

John Ford liked Foxe, and used him again as the villain in FOUR SONS (1928)and HANGMAN'S HOUSE (1928), and Foxe would have bits later on in Ford films like THE INFORMER, MARY OF SCOTLAND, and even MY DARLING CLEMENTINE. Ford actually does a good job with the comedy in UPSTREAM, not using so much the sledgehammer he would use later on when fitting comedy into his dramatic films.

Foxe had formed the Black-Foxe Military Academy in the late 20's, and spent his later years running the favorite for the Hollywood elite to send their problem children to after his film career wound down.


RICHARD M ROBERTS

6:58 AM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

TCM ran this a year or two ago; it was a terrific little movie. I often prefer the more obscure pictures made by directors who would later go on to make classics.

3:14 PM  
Blogger radiotelefonia said...

At this time of this year, I'm still waiting for Filmoteca to come back to the air. Even though I am not in Argentina, and for years I have been struggling in order to get their signal, fortunately know the channel is streaming the signal for free and in real HD. This makes it very difficult to download their signal (not capturing it) because the signal is extremely heavy than doing a screen capture. Yet it is worth it; last year they showed very obscure Russian silents that even people in Europe manage to save from that signal.

8:25 PM  

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