26 November 2016

Finally! Richard Barthelmess in"Massacre" on TCM!

This is just a heads-up to point out that a duo of Richard Barthelmess' lesser known sound films will be on TCM next Friday night, Dec. 2 -- Massacre and Midnight Alibi. Both were directed by Alan Crosland, a director who had made dozens of silent films and in fact directed The Jazz Singer.
The more interesting of these is Massacre, which. seen  in the context of its time, is amazing. The plot, which can be described as packed with incident, includes both racial persecution and rich white ladies looking for an exotic romance -- quite a shock in 1934. The hero is perfectly willing to take advantage of this, and in fact is willing to cash in on his heritage for all he can milk out of it -- until he returns home in triumph (driving a candy-apple red boat-tail Auburn, an extremely snazzy sports car -- or rather being driven by his black valet, played by wonderful Clarence Muse) and discovers the corruption and opression on the reservation. The cast includes Ann Dvorak and the fabulous Robert Barrat.
Midnight Alibi is an oddity, because it's a story within a story. A New York gambler is being pursued by a rival gang; he slips into an old mansion to hide out, where he meets an elderly lady who tells him the story of her lost romance fifty years before. Barthelmess plays both the gambler and the hero of the lady's tale. His modern love interest is Ann Dvorak, while Helen Chandler plays the old lady in her youth.