Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Hoboken to Hollywood (USA,1926)
Billy Bevan plays the character of a typical office man, both formal and stressed. But his routine changed when the president of the company where he worked transferred Bevan to California to start the company’s office there. Bevan got very excited about this change, probably in the hope of having a less stressful lifestyle. He called his wife to tell her to make the arrangements and then it is shown the car they will use to drive to California. Considering the amount of things they carried and how they were disposed, it seemed they were going to spend a long time in California or, at least, that they were not organized people. After a brief conversation, Bevan, his wife and mother in law started their journey.
We can also see another couple who is heading West in a journey that doesn’t seem calm at all.
Both couples meet and everyone’s problems only seem to escalate. At this point of film the gags with cars are particularly funny and very skillfully performed, which is admirable, considering the difficulty of stunts in those scenes. Actually, comedy films involving mechanical gags were not so rare back to 1920s (this is particularly noticeable in Buster Keaton's films, among others), which indicates how machines and automobiles were already an integral part of people’s lives back then. The audience really wonders if those people will ever be able to reach their destination, considering their everlasting difficulties on the way among rough desert landscapes. The elements of landscape were explored as much as possible as prompts to the gags, including the animals and plants around.
In the end, everyone got to arrive in California, but a huge surprise would wait for Bevan and things would not be as good in California as he imagined. When he arrived at the office, Bevan realized he would have to work with a fellow who was very familiar to him. It would end up causing completely unexpected consequences to Bevan and his family.
Another highlight is the kinda ethnically insensitive jokes related to the black servant, who was always too afraid of everything and spoke incorrectly, which is not something uncommon in 1920s films by Mack Sennett Comedies. The stereotypes of California as being the land of sunshine and Hollywood as the place where dreams come true were also employed.