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THE CRACKERJACK (1925) finds silent screen star Johnny Hines as a breezy go-getter who falls in love with a young woman (Sigrid Holmquist) and helps her father thwart a revolution in Esquasado using stuffed pickles. This comedy classic is presented here with a brand new score by Ben Model. Reminiscent of Harold Lloyd’s WHY WORRY? (1923), as well as later films like Woody Allen’s BANANAS (1971) and Paul Mazursky’s MOON OVER PARADOR (1988), in THE CRACKERJACK Hines takes on a variety of gag sequences including impersonating one of the fictional south-of-the-border country’s dignitaries. The film ends in a large-scale battle and comedy chase and will delight fans of silent movies.
Johnny Hines made fifteen starring features between 1923 and 1928, most of which were released either independently or through First National. While Johnny Hines is not as well known today as Chaplin, Keaton or Lloyd, his films — most of which were directed by his brother Charles — kept movie fans laughing while they were waiting for the next release from silent comedy’s luminaries.
Here's what critics had to say about "The Crackerjack" when it was released in May 1925:
"A fast and furious comedy…plenty of imagination and dash." -- New York Times
"'The Crackerjack' is built entirely for laughing purposes…virtually a scream from beginning to end." -- Variety
This edition of THE CRACKERJACK features a brand-new piano score by renowned silent film accompanist Ben Model. This video edition was mastered from a vintage 16mm print which shows some wear and which may be missing a scene or two; new intertitles have been created to replace missing ones.
Musical score © 2013 by Ben Model – all rights reserved. Produced for video by Ben Model, Undercrank Productions. www.silentfilmmusic.com
THE CRACKERJACK - starring Johnny Hines, with Sigrid Holmquist, Henry West, Bradley Barker, J. Barney Sherry; dir Charles Hines, prod C.C. Burr. 7 reels. Released May 8, 1925. Location scenes were filmed in Florida.
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The print used here was not the best, but it is a very rare film and this could be the only chance to see it. That said, it appears that there was some digital cleanup work done and it plays great, with no holes in the plot.
The music score is excellent. Not overbearing, it hit's just the right note and the quality of the recording is so good it feels like there's somebody in the room playing live.
If you're a fan of silent comedy, this is a must have for your collection!
The DVD is a very nice transfer of a somewhat worn but completely servicable 16mm print. Way better than average score for this silent is played by composer/pianist Ben Model - I would call it a "traditional" style job of silent scoring that compliments the action on screen and doesn't have you sitting there and wondering when the Martians will land!
Directed by Johnny Hines' brother Charles, THE CRACKERJACK is a delightful comedy that also contains some excellent stuntwork, exciting chase sequences, and even some swordfighting reminiscent of Douglas Fairbanks' THE MARK OF ZORRO. I had only seen one Hines comedy prior to this, and while he's not as well-remembered as some of silent comedy's other luminaries, his work demonstrates a real energy and inventiveness that holds up well almost 90 years later. As a silent comedy buff, finally having the chance to own one of Johnny Hines' films on DVD is a real treat. This DVD edition from Undercrank Productions is mastered from a 16mm print and features a score by Ben Model that perfectly compliments the comedy.
The DVD case stated the film was transferred from a vintage 16mm print that may be missing a scene or two, but there didn't seem to be any gaps in the story to me. The quality of the print was much better than I expected. There were a few spots with obvious issues, but I thought the vast majority of the film looked great.
The piano score by Ben Model was excellent as always. I have heard Ben play live at Cinefest in the past and he has always impressed me. Nothing beats watching a silent film in a theater with live accompaniment, but I really enjoy having a film like this on DVD since I am able to watch it multiple times. When watching a film in a theater it can be difficult to give the music the attention it deserves. Since I have The Crackerjack on DVD I was able to watch it a second time so I could concentrate on the music. As other reviewers have mentioned, Ben is very good at not over-powering a film with the score. In a film like this, with a lot of action, it can be difficult for some composers to keep the musical momentum going but Ben has just the right touch.
After watching The Crackerjack I will definitely be looking for more of Hines' films. I am also looking forward Ben Model's future releases of other silent films with lesser-known stars.
Please note: This review is for The Crackerjack released by Undercrank Productions in the case with the blue background.
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As usual, all because a performer is lesser known does not mean this is a mediocre, unfunny film.Read more