For Reel

So Long Letty (1929)
November 24, 2014, 1:12 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Lloyd Bacon
3.5 Stars
So Long LettyCharlotte Greenwood was a well respected entertainer on Broadway but she hardly seemed like a bankable candidate for movie stardom. She’s not unattractive–she sort of looks like a cross between Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Blondell–but the clumsy way that she moves her lanky, six foot frame is far from the expected grace of a typical screen starlet. But it’s precisely that type of loose, free energy that makes her a perfect embodiment of the spirit of the Jazz Age. So Long Letty was her first talkie and, like her performance, it’s the rare film from the first year of sound that has a certain energy in the filmmaking. Although the camera remains mostly static, director Lloyd Bacon utilizes cuts relatively often and to good effect. Sometimes it is a simple change of scale, but most often the cuts are used to “pair” up two of the actors–a nice touch for a film about a wife swap (when the husbands are talking about the wives, for example, Bacon will alternate between medium closeups of the two wives and then the two husbands). The ceaseless score similarly keeps the pace moving, as does the endlessly witty dialogue (adapted from Oliver Morosco’s play) that is theatrical in its repetition and rhyming schemes without being distracting.

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