Paths to Paradise (1925)—an unsung silent comedy gem starring Raymond Griffith and Betty Compson. Since this week’s movie in TDOY’s silent spotlight, Open All Night (1924), also features the dapper Mr. G, I thought I'd preface my remarks by letting those interested know that Grapevine has made Paradise one of its new Blu-ray releases. Despite my intentions to economize around Rancho Yesteryear, I ponied up the necessary scratch to purchase a copy of the Paradise Blu-ray…persuaded by the news that I could get it at a nice discount since I had previously bought the DVD. (Yes, I know—I have no will power.)
Okay, I’m going to spoil this much for you: Open All Night is not all that wacky. It’s Lubitsch-like romantic froth; Facebook compadre and Raymond Griffith historian Bruce Calvert correctly describes the picture as “a romantic dramedy that claims that women like a man who treats them roughly.” (That should go over big when it’s Movie Night at the battered women’s shelter.) It’s still a diverting little truffle featuring fine performances from the players; it was scripted by Willis Goldbeck (New York Times critic Dave Kehr speculates that Howard Hawks, Night’s production supervisor, might have also had a hand in the screenplay) and directed by Paul Bern—who’s perhaps better known as the ill-fated first husband of Jean Harlow.
Miss Bluebeard (1925), previously reviewed here on the blog. Griffith is Igor Romano, Henry’s “protégé,” introduced in a running gag as “the next movie sheik” (a little in-joke in that Paramount, the studio that released Night, had recently lost Rudolph Valentino due to a contract dispute). This topical bit would get a little tiresome were it not for the fact that when Henry introduces Ray to a gendarme with this announcement, the official asks for an autograph and then kisses Raymond on both cheeks. (Griffith has this priceless “Did-what-I-think-happen-happened?” look on his face in response.) By the time a second policeman gives Griffith the same treatment, the “sheik” removes his coat and is ready to scrap. Just before the end of Night, a headline announces Valentino’s return to the studio—and when he’s asked by the cop what he’s going to do now Griffith cries out “Doug!” as he bares his teeth in Fairbanks fashion.