Friday, February 5, 2016
Feet of Mud (USA,1924)
The character that would bring Harry Langdon world fame was already fully well-rounded in this film. There was a football game (American football, to be more precise) between the Mohicans and the home team. Then we are introduced to Harry Langdon’s character, naive, not understood by others and helpless on circumstances around him. Langdon is in love with a girl who has another suitor and was a substitute in the football team, merely because there were not better players available.
Football is always a very physical sport, but that specific game seemed to be particularly violent and players left the field in a very bad condition, looking more dead than alive. Comedy films about physically weak guys who overcame difficulties were common and were made even by the most famous comedians of silent era, like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd. So, this is Langdon’s version to a rather known comedic plot.
Langdon is called to play and the audience does not take him seriously, specially because he was not a strong, muscular man. However, against all odds, Langdon got to stand out in the game.
Then, he tries to marry his sweetheart, but her father did not give his permission, unless Langdon got to keep a job with the City Engineer. The girl’s father wanted Langdon to be as skilled in his professional life as he was in the football field. The “engineering” job ended up being street cleaner in a rather crowded and busy city, full of garbage. Langdon tries to do his best in the new job, but he cannot help being involved in many troubled situations.
Langdon catches the train and finds himself in the Chinese area, where a kind of inner war was going on. His sweetheart shows up there with her father and a group of tourists. Violence suddenly escalates, the girl is in danger and it’s Langdon who saves her despite all his initial fear.
The Chinatown was portrayed in a rather stereotyped way, as a place of poverty, violence and a kind of exotic curiosity to be seen by white tourists. Those jokes can be considered ethnically insensitive.