13 May 2017

More Richard Barthelmess: A Look at The Patent Leather Kid

The Kid enters the arena to loud boos


The Patent Leather Kid, 1927, was one of Richard Barthelmess' biggest successes. It's rather oddly like two movies in one -- the first half is a lively but typical sports movie. Then in the middle it suddenly turns into a war movie. Barthelmess is a tough, streetwise prize fighter heading for the title (lightweight, one presumes) who finds that fighting against a single opponent in the boxing ring is not the same thing at all as fighting against tanks, artillery, and mustard gas. (The basic story was re-used for The Fighting 69th).
The Kid has a funny and very sexy relationship with a nightclub dancer, Curley (played by Mollie O'Day) who first attracts his attention by hurling abuse at him from ringside.
Again, the only print I have ever seen is not that great; I'm sure the huge battles at the end would be very impressive -- if you could see it!
Here are a few glimpses:

A small but powerful fighter

Curley annoys and intrigues him

It seems they were made for each other