Vera Reynolds

The Monster Walks (1932, Frank R. Strayer)

I went into The Monster Walks with what I consider reasonable expectations. I thought it would be bad. I thought it would be a bad, low budget, rainy night in a mansion with a killer ape loose movie.

It is all of those things, but it’s also awful. Director Strayer apparently had such a low budget he wasn’t even able to get shots of the mansion from outside. Inside, he’s going from one setup to another on a set. When he actually utilizes close-ups, it’s a big deal.

The editing, from Byron Robinson, is weak. He probably didn’t have much to work with, but he still cuts the shots poorly. It’s hard to explain; the characters seem paused between the angles.

The problem is Robert Ellis’s script. He doesn’t have any real drama. A girl, played by Vera Reynolds, travels home to the scary mansion for the reading of her father’s will. His body’s there too, which seems unsanitary. The other heirs have it in for her. Maybe.

None of these other heirs have much of anything going on for themselves. They want the money, sure, and they have some secrets, but none of them have anything going on. It’s not just a lack of subplots, it’s a lack of the characters having enough personality to have them.

A tepid performance from Rex Lease–as Reynolds’s beau–doesn’t help either.

Mischa Auer is exceeding creepy as the maid’s son, however. Great Nosferatu outfit on him.

It’s a dismal Walk.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Frank R. Strayer; written by Robert Ellis; director of photography, Jules Cronjager; edited by Byron Robinson; produced by Cliff P. Broughton; released by Action Pictures.

Starring Rex Lease (Dr. Ted Clayton), Vera Reynolds (Ruth Earlton), Sheldon Lewis (Robert Earlton), Mischa Auer (Hanns Krug), Martha Mattox (Mrs. Emma ‘Tanty’ Krug), Sidney Bracey (Herbert Wilkes) and Willie Best (Exodus).

Dry and Thirsty (1920, Craig Hutchinson)

Dry and Thirsty is split into two distinct parts. The first part, set on a boardwalk and beach, mostly features protagonist Billy Bletcher. Bletcher, who also wrote the short, resembles Chaplin. The mustache isn’t identical, but it’s close, and the mannerisms suggest a very American Chaplin impression.

He’s not bad and his mad pursuit of liquor is mildly amusing. Thirsty‘s essential component is director Hutchinson. He doesn’t just film the beach area well, he also knows how to film the motion. Hutchinson is able to make Bletcher’s manic impression work. The first half is great-looking.

The second half takes place in a hotel, introducing Vera Reynolds (as Bletcher’s love interest) and John Dempsey (as her husband). It’s funnier, but not because of Bletcher. The hotel’s so busy, there’s a foot traffic director. The gag works better than it should.

It’s an appealing little comedy with some excellent direction.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Craig Hutchinson; written by Billy Bletcher; produced by Al Christie; released by Pathé Exchange.

Starring Billy Bletcher (Horace Radish), Vera Reynolds (Mrs. Tryan) and John Dempsey (William Allways Tryan).


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