Monday, September 14, 2009
Helen's Babies (1924)
My dear friend Amy Jeanne of It'll Take the Snap Out of Your Garters! had sent this to me in a bundle of DVDs, which I'm finally tackling. ("Just Imagine" is next, Amy! I swear!)
This is pegged as a Clara Bow picture, but in reality it's a Baby Peggy vehicle. That's not to say I didn't like it - it turned out to be kind of cute, if a rather strange viewing experience.
The transfer I saw was missing the title card and had quite a bit of deteriation damage...I've since learned it was the best print available. I'm not a snob about those things - in fact, sometimes a little damage can heighten the sense of tangible history. What made it downright weird was the lack of musical accompaniment. I haven't watched a silent like that yet, and it took some getting used to (and made me want to sit at the piano REALLY BADLY).
All that aside, the picture was formulaic but sweet. Edward Everett Horton plays a man who, despite having written a best-selling book on raising children, doesn't have the slightest clue how to handle them himself. Through a series of events he winds up having to babysit Toodie (Baby Peggy) and her sister (Jean Carpenter, whom I know nothing about) - and then the hijinks ensue! The scene I liked best involved the girls "helping" Uncle Harry (Horton) to unpack. Clara plays the girl-next-door (literally) and becomes Harry's love interest (surprise there). She doesn't get very much screen time; it's obvious that this heavily-made-up, restrained young woman hasn't hit her prime yet.
I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend this picture, but I can see why Baby Peggy, with her wide-eyed facial expressions, was popular in her day. Not a bad way to pass an afternoon.
I give this one: