Wednesday, February 3, 2016
The Grab Bag Bride (USA,1917)
This comedy is somehow similar to rural comedies by Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle and Mabel Normand made for Keystone studios in 1910s (specially in 1915-1916). Actor Al St John (who was Arbuckle’s nephew in real life) was good to play the roles of naive country men, often riding a monocycle, which was a stunt this actor was a specialist and we can see it in this film too.
In this film Al St John is the suitor (identified in the beginning as a “ardent wooer”). Then, we are introduced to the widow’s daughter, who looks forward to have a good marriage. It is made the most of animals as prompts to gags and the result is pretty interesting as a reminiscence of an era when many people actually lived in the countryside and could easily relate to those characters.
The widow planned to spoil the marriage due to social status of the love interest of her daughter. Some scenes are quite funny due to their spoofing of romantic conventions on courtship, which is something that was explored at its most at the film Tillie’s Punctured Romance (USA,1914), also made by the Keystone studios. Another funny and original fact is the intertitles, which had rhymed lines, like poetry, but the content was another spoof of the Victorian idea of romantic love.
St John is the villain also interested in the girl, with the approval of her mother. The opposition between both suitors starts. The girl decides to marry the suitor she loved, but St John had another plans and hired two other villains to help him stop the marriage. Almost immediately, the three villains kidnap the girl, by putting her inside of a bag. The groom realized something was wrong, a chase was started.
When it seemed that he villain would really get to marry the girl, it was shown that he had actually kidnapped her mother instead. Meanwhile, the girl was at home all dressed up to be married. When she realized there was no one around she sensed something was wrong and ran away.
At the end, the girl was able to find everybody and could finally marry the man she loved. About Al St John, he got to be married to: With the girl’s mother. He didn’t realize he had kidnapped the wrong person on time to prevent his marriage from taking place.