Film: 3673

Feature Comedy | 1920 | Silent | B/W


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Walter Forde directs/ acts in feature length comedy about a girl whose father wants her to marry a man who is part of a gang which is after her fathers priceless diamond. To avoid marrying him, she pretends she is already engaged to a detective. Walter pretends to be the detective for her and gets involved in a chase with the diamond.

An English town church spires and trees and a river with a large passenger steamer with two decks, the top deck open. On this deck girls in sleeveless summer dresses fool around dancing with each other while one girl plays the ukulele. Wicker chairs are set out around the edges of the deck. An intertitle introduces 'Pauline, one of those rare girls who never makes up - her mind'. Pauline is sitting in one of the basket chairs reading a letter which we see ends, 'and I am calling this morning for my answer, do let it be yes'- underlined- 'yours devotedly, George'. She looks annoyed by this then waves the letter at the other girls who crowd around, giggling, and shake their heads sympathetically. One suggests that she should say that she is already engaged.

An intertitle to introduce 'Pauline's papa, wealthy, but windy'. He sits outside reading the paper in a suit with plus-four trousers. He has a slightly unkempt moustache and bushy eyebrows which he raises as he reads of a desperate gang of crooks who have been thieving jewels in the neighbourhood. Having read this, he scuttles inside and rushing to a cupboard draws out a jewel case and relieved, finds that it still contains a large gem. The intertitles tell us this is the 'No-Hope Diamond, which draws crooks around Pauline's father like a waiter draws corks'. Apparently Pauline's suitor George is one of these with 'one eye on the girl, and both on the diamond'. He arrives now at the foot of the curved stairs up to the living room from the open deck; a portly man in a straw boater carrying fishing tackle, which he raps against his thigh. He quietly enters the room where Pauline's father is gloating over his jewel and his face, turned to the camera shows his covetousness. Pauline's father swiftly hides the diamond as the suitor makes a louder entry, and the two men shake hands. Pauline's father calls Pauline and she gets up from where she has been sitting in a huddle with the other girls on cushions and wicker chairs. As Pauline's father turns back the suitor George looks suspicious, hiding something in his jacket pocket. Pauline runs down the stairs, then backs off as she sees her would-be suitor. She shakes his proffered hand then turns her head away and, as suggested, says she will not marry him as she is already engaged. Her father and George both look surprised and angry, and he father demands to know who the man is. Pauline hesitates, then glances down to see a white covered book of 'the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' and answers that her fiancée is a detective.

The girls run down the stairs onto the deck, and jump into a motor boat which is long and low with a cockpit like a car with a steering wheel and a fold-back hood. On the sleek foredeck is a brass horn. Another girl, in a belted bathing suit and cap, dives from the flat roof of the steamer. Pauline, who is still being questioned by the two men, swiftly tweaks both their noses and escapes with her friends. As she drives off her father tells her to bring her detective friend to lunch. The boat sets off past rowing boats and swans.

Intertitle introduces 'the optimist', with a picture of a fisherman beside a (no fishing?) sign. A young man in boater and striped tie constructs his rod and lands a catch in comically short time (the film is speeded up here). Throwing it into a basket at his back whereupon it promptly falls through the hole in the bottom. This is repeated until he catches a handkerchief, which, seeing his basket is flawed, he stuffs into his jacket. Two other fisherman- Pauline's unfortunate suitor and a companion, sit by the river. George makes a good catch and shows it to the other. The younger fisherman, Walter casts his line again, unwittingly hooking George's fish from the opposite bank, followed by a second from right between his hands. Walter casts his line a third time, this time hooking the other's straw boater which he has taken off to scratch his head. Finally seeing the young fisherman, George runs over to accost him, snatching his hat and fish back. Unfortunately the hook is still caught in the boater and Walter rips the hat apart trying to take out the hook. The older man sticks the hat brim, which is all that remains, over his head an stalks off furiously. The young man sees a sign saying 'no fishing here' and smears it with mud until it reads 'no fish here'.

The girls drive past a querulous - looking elderly man in spectacles, writing something in a cushioned boat, half covered with tarpaulin. As Pauline leans over to ask him if he is engaged, a fearsome looking fat woman in a lace dress appears from behind the tarpaulin to introduce herself as his wife. As the girls drive off she begins beating him about the head.

Walter passes a fish stall; fish are laid out at the front on shelves and prices are chalked on a board - Hake 10d, Cod 1/5 etc - he buys fish from a man in an apron. His enemy, who has been watching from around the sun shade, smoking a cigarette, runs after him, seizes his fish, slaps him around the face with them and runs off.

The girls drive passed a man with a fishing line out of a rowing boat, his face covered with a paper. Pauline enquires if he is engaged, but regrets her question when he lowers his newspaper to reveal a very silly moustache. The girls drive off, but pull the man into the water by his rod, which is stuck on their boat.

Walter sits down by the river bank to try his luck one more time, as is covered with the girls' clothes as they climb out of the boat nearby and strip down to their bathing suits. The fisherman falls out of his boat again at the sight and the young man watches from behind a tree. As the girls splash around, Pauline steals their clothes and unties her boat to drive off. As she does this, the rope catches the young man's foot and drags him after her. Pauline finally realises what she has done, stops, and crawls back to Walter, still tied on, who takes off his hat to her politely. As she hauls him into the boat she explains her dilemma. (- the first reel ends here)

(second reel) - Intertitle -'Walter would try anything once, even detecting'. Pauline's father reads his paper in the panelled sitting room of the cruiser. Pauline brings in Walter, who puts his fingers to his lips and shows Pauline's father a star concealed behind his jacket lapel, then sneaks around the room as if searching for clues. A high wheeled car with a square carriage, wide running board, and hooded back. Two men laugh out of the window at Pauline's rejected suitor in his hat brim. Throwing it to the floor, and snatching another hat from one of the men, he goes into Pauline's father's living room. Where she stand arm in arm with her 'detective'. Pauline's father introduces him as 'detective Coppem', who is after the river crooks. Both men look at each in horror, and George grabs Walter's hand and squeezes it painfully, pretending to shake it. They kick each other behind Pauline's father's back. This carries on over lunch - they all sit around a table on the deck eating soup - Pauline and Walter play footsie and Walter and George stamp on each other's feet. Pauline's father asks 'detective Coppem' how he caught the thieves, and Walter makes up a story - An unkempt room with crooked pictures on the walls and paper strewn across the bare floorboards. Four men in ragged clothes play cards around a table. Walter the 'detective' enters the room and a man with a cricket bat lunges for him, but misses and falls over and Walter draws out a revolver. The thieves all put their hands up until the one with the cricket bat puts out the light, then they all fight in the dark. Putting the light back on, the 'detective' reveals his victims in silly poses around the room. Walter sits down on the up-turned rear-end of one, lighting a cigarette. Back to Walter telling the story at the dinner table - a man throws a note stuck on a knife from behind a tree. And it lands in the table. Walter picks it up, it reads 'leave the no-hope diamond at the foot of the blasted oak at midnight, or we'll out you, the Kid Glove Gang' - with a skull and cross bones drawn underneath. Seizing the note, Pauline's father rushes in to check on his jewel and asks 'detective Coppem' to check it in at the bank, warning him that fourteenth detectives have already been killed over this jewel. Pauline drags Walter, who is trying to get rid of the jewel, out and shoves him down the gangladder to the shore. Two men emerge from behind a tree making scary faces, Walter retreats hastily and he and Pauline get into the motor boat and drive off. George and the other gang members jump in their car.

Pauline lands the boat and forces Walter into a taxi- a car with an open hooded carriage at the back and a closed carriage in front. She stands waving to him, and the crooks come up, grab her from behind and bundle her into their car. Walter looks forward to see that the taxi driver, who has his back to him, holds a large knife. As Walter jumps from the moving taxi the driver is shown from the front, using the knife to cut a huge salami, which he is cramming into his mouth. Walter runs up the road to where a man is pumping up his bicycle tyre. It explodes with a bang, and Walter raises his hands, thinking a gun has been fired and is propelled along the street by a man carrying a cane while reading his newspaper. Walter hands the jewel case to a policeman behind him, then, realising his mistake, snatches it back and runs off. The doors of the 'National Provincial Bank' are shut, so he carries on passed shop fronts and an advertisement for 'players navy cut' cigarettes - speeded up walking- Walter thinks he is being followed - hides to try to lose the man, finally throws the diamond and case and runs. The man picks up the case and runs after him. Walter, hiding behind a corner, knocks him out and takes it back - he fights with some of the real thieves, runs around more. Just as Pauline manages to escape from the car they finally catch him and take the case, later finding it empty. Walter and Pauline sit down disconsolate on the curb, but looking down, find the diamond where it has fallen in the road by their feet. Walter puts it in his pocket - it falls out straight away and down a drain- and the couple embrace.

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