A Modern Musketeer
Our feature film for Friday, Feb. 17, 2012 (7:00 p.m.) will be A Modern Musketeer. This 72 minute feature film is a hoot! A combination of romantic fantasy comedy, period adventure, melodrama, and a touch of Cowboys and Indians, it flies by leaving you wanting more. The movie features some great outdoor cinematography of the Grand Canyon and the Arizona desert, and the ever impressive Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., filling the screen with his signature acrobatic stunts and capers.
In this pop-corn favorite from almost one hundred years ago, Douglas Fairbanks plays an eccentric young man from small town Kansas named Ned Thacker. Ned tries to embody the chivalry of D'Artagnan and the other gentlemanly Musketeers of old. His instincts for living out the code of a more "civilized" age in the progressive 20th century means that difficulties as well as true heroism follow him wherever he goes. Ned's anachronistic behavior can be traced to his Mother, who in the midst of a Kansas tornado insisted on reading The Three Musketeers as she gave birth! As the movie unfolds Ned imagines himself into the 17th century (where he wrecks an entire tavern and clobbers and kills three dozen rotters just to restore a mysterious lady's handkerchief) and in the modern world he tries to serve justice in a gambling den with hilarious results.
Tiring of small town life he travels from Kansas toward the far west. Enroute in his Model T, Ned encounters a young woman, Elsie Dodge, and her mother. The Dodges have been taken in by a rich scoundrel and bigamist named Forrest Vandeteer who is pursuing young Elsie. When their car is unable to make it through the desert Ned saves the day and gets them safely to the El Tovar Hotel at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Ned and Elsie fall gently in love, but her Mother's financial needs and Vandeteer's arrogance and desire for Elsie cut young Ned out of the picture. In the meantime a renegade Navajo Indian chief named Chin-de-dah decides that the young Elise would make an excellent, if temporary, wife. Soon Elsie and Vandeteer are embroiled in a kidnapping, a desert chase with the bad guys, and Ned romping around trying to save the young lady from certain disaster.
While the presentation of Chin-de-dah is insensitive by modern standards, he is not held up as a model of Native Americans, but as an aberration. The film also presents positive, if perhaps condescending footage of actual Zuni Indians performing traditional dances for tourists at the hotel, and Doug bounces a young Zuni boy on his knee with obvious affection.
The film under the direction Allan Dwan has fast paced action, nice camera work, and fine acting from a strong cast. The film doesn't feel like it was made in 1917 and makes understanding Fairbank's stardom easy.
The film has been lovingly restored and is nearly free of the distortion, grit, and damage typically found on films of this age resulting in a clear, stable, and throughly enjoyable viewing experience. The painstaking restoration was carried out by the Danish Film Institute, Lobster Films, and Flicker Alley and is made available to St. John's Lutheran Church via the film's current owner, Mr. David Shepard.
Directed by Allan Dwan
D'Artagnan: Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.
Elsie Dodge: Marjorie Daw
Mrs. Dodge: Kathleen Kirkham
Forrest Vandeteer: Eugene Ormonde
Mrs. Thancker: Edythe Chapman
Chin-de-dah: Frank Campeau
James Brown: Tully Marshall
Screenplay by Allan Dwan and Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. based on the short story D'Artagnan of Kansas by F. R. Lyle, Jr.
The Film will be projected from a DVD and accompanied by the 14 piece
Kittanning Ivy Leaf Orchestra
under the direction of
Mr. Stephen J. Lipnichan.
The score for the film is made of original period numbers and photoplay music compiled, arranged and edited by Eric W. Cook
The orchestra was made possible from a grant from the
Armstrong County Community Foundation
Visit them at: www.accfound.org
This film and several other full length and short
early Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. films
can be found as part of Flicker Alley's boxed set
Douglas Fairbanks: A Modern Musketeer
Visit them at: www.flickeralley.com