The Joke Is On Me

After watching The Man In The Iron Mask, I decided to jump the boys right into another recounting of the film. Not the 1973/1974 versions of The Three Musketeers/The Four Musketeers with Michael York as D’Artagnon. The John Wayne version of the 1930s.

As we started to watch it, it became clear that it’s not a film, but a serial in 12 parts. And it took us an hour to watch the first two installments–since we started watching at about 8pm, I called a lid after watching two chapters because I didn’t want to watch six hours of ninety-year-old cinema on a weeknight.

After the lights came up, I saw the back of the DVD, where it says the running time is 114 minutes. Ah! I thought. It’s the recut feature film version from 1946 (which I learned of on Wikipedia).

Oh, but no.

We started watching again the next night, expecting to get to the end of something, and right after chapter four, a color set of previews for other public domain discs you could buy from this company (including Africa Screams, so I nudged my younger son who has seen it with his dear old dad).

And that was it.

Apparently, somewhere in the last two decades, I paid maybe up to a dollar for this DVD, maybe even new at Schnucks back in the day, for the first four episodes of the serial. Nowhere on the packaging–a full sized DVD case and not a cardboard sleeve–does it say it’s only the first four episodes of a serial–it refers to itself as an action film, which would indicate it’s an intact unit. Nothing indicates part II and part III are available. Basically, I got rooked.

Well, I can’t just leave those boys hanging since they’re kind of enjoying it–fortunately, Amazon has the whole serial available, and it should arrive today for our review over the weekend. Maybe even with a–dare I hope it?–better and cleaned up transfer.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about Ruth Hall, the lead actress.

Did I say lead? I think she’s the only actress in the program.

There’s something about the actresses from the 1920s and 1930s that makes them seem more like real women than big budget actresses of today. Perhaps the modern cinematic techniques make them seem more polished today, too perfect or flawless, whereas the old black and white actresses, especially in low quality transfers that I typically get, soften the edges. Or maybe I am trying too hard to make a thesis of my experience of perception.

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