The Plastic Age
Director: Wesley Ruggles
Those are the initial words of this charming film, from and about the roaring twenties and its youth (my favourite decade, if someone didn't already guess!).
The film begins with young athlete and record holder Hugh Carver (Donald Keith) packing to leave for college. His mother (Mary Alden) makes sure that he brings long underwear for the winter, to which Hugh nice but firmly responds:
"Gee, mother, college men don't wear those things - any time!"
Before sending Hugh off to college his mother sees to it that his father (Henry B. Walthall, he who played the woodsman in Rescued From an Eagle's Nest, 1908!) has a certain conversation with his son, which couldn't be anything but flowers and bees.
After the arrival to the college, Hugh meets his room mate - Carl Peters (Gilbert Roland). See following screen shots (yes, I took a lot of those this time!) to get a picture of him, and the interesting introduction of Clara Bow's character Cynthia Day...
Fate obviously wants Hugh and Cynthia to meet soon, and under the most respectable circumstances - the hazing of the freshmen!
(Feel free to try to identify Carole Lombard or Janet Gaynor among the extras of this film - they should be there, according to IMDb!)
The arrival of the "hotsy-totsy"...
Hugh has way to much fun for a hazing!
The changing rooms and showers after training. They are all very manly - whipping each other with towels and making fuzzes!
Remember that I told you about the uncredited news reporter in the film It (link to my post)? The one that I thought looked like Gary Cooper, I looked it up, and it was him? The same thing here! I said to myself:
"Hey! That silly-looking guy in a towel - he looks like Clark Gable!"A look at the full cast and crew at IMDb, and... it was him! Sometimes I'm just amazed by myself.
I recognized him in the third picture from now, but I think it might be him sitting bent over in the front of this next one, also!
I'm getting a little bit off the topic here, but I have to: Isn't it interesting trivia that both Gable and Lombard (married in 1939) worked as uncredited extras in this film? Did they meet each other on location? Or did they just pass each other by as strangers, and find out later that they appeared in the same film together 14 years before they married? I say - interesting!
Okay, back to topic:
Hugh and Cynthia has obviously fallen for each other and are crazy in love. But the popular Cynthia is a real flapper girl - flirting behaviour and late nights included - and it starts to affect Hugh's performance in school, and most importantly - in sports. His coach, Henley (David Butler), is concerned about this, and so are his parents (who have great expectations in his achievements).
Something wonderful about these films that were made before the Hay's Code arrived and screwed with the film making, is the ingenious pictorial language that allows the viewer to understand what is insinuated, without having to be too prudish.
The following pictures are great examples of what I mean - there is no question that it is the wild 1920's that we are enjoying!
Aaand... back to the plot, again:
Another problem arises - Hugh's room mate Carl has an eye for Cynthia, and she's flirtatious as usual. This drives a wedge into their friendship, something that is soon shown on the football field.
Cynthia and Hugh stops seeing each other, which secretly is distressing for them both. But who wants to swallow their pride?
Yes, Hugh became the hero of the football team, after much ado! But the days passes anyway before he takes up the contact with the longing Cynthia. I won't say anything more about the film (I may have said too much, already), but see this wonderfully entertaining youth film if you haven't! I sat on the edge of my chair the last three minutes of the film, totally astonishing.
And Clara Bow... she is my idol. Next time I go to my hair dresser I will bring a photograph of Clara from this film. No doubt about that.
My new thing: Ending all blog posts possible with one of those Hollywood kisses I always envy.