The Barker



December 3, 2013, @ 8:00 pm

(George Fitzmaurice, US 1928, 87 min., 35mm)

Silent Tuesdays. The earliest sound features were often “part-talkies,” (nicknamed “goat-gland” pictures by cynical exhibitors), with dialogue sequences and recorded musical accompaniment added to films that were originally designed as silents. The Barker (originally billed as “90% Talking!”) is probably the very best example of these, as a very young Douglas Fairbanks Jr. plays the son of a carnival showman who defies his father’s wishes by forgoing college and staying with the carnival, where he is eventually seduced by sideshow dancer Dorothy Mackaill. Later remade as Hoopla (1933), Clara Bow’s last film, The Barker shows both the power of silent acting at its best and the new dimension that compelling dialogue could bring to the movies.

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