For Reel

Seven Keys to Baldpate (1929)
October 18, 2014, 5:01 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Reginald Barker
3.5 Stars
Seven Keys to BaldpateThe fourth adaptation of the Earl Derr Biggers/George M. Cohan play Seven Keys to Baldpate was RKO’s final release of their first year of production and starred the popular leading man Richard Dix. He plays William Magee, a novelist who makes a bet that he can finish a novel in 24 hours if he has peace and quiet. His accommodating agent gives him the seclusion he desires by providing him with what is said to be the lone key to a remote inn… only, as the title hints, it’s actually one of seven. The picture has the expected technical limitations that came with the first year of sound, but director Reginald Barker capably uses shadows and the sound of howling winds and bashing shutters to effectively set the eery tone. Dix plays his role as a cocksure braggart, a man who always believes himself to be in charge even as things are spiraling further out of his control by the minute. It’s a likable performance–one that even allows him the occasional comic moment (he has a handful of nice reaction shots in which he responds to the absurdity of the situation)–and it’s well-suited to the parodic narrative.