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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!
Hines' character is the perennial go getter; he's like the Warner Bros. Tasmanian Devil - just a blur of activity. With a grin that seemingly stretches from ear to ear, he maneuvers his way through adventures that test the limits of our imagination.
In "The Crackerjack", Johnny plays a pickle salesman who gets involved in a corrupt South American revolution, saves the day, and gets the girl by means of...well, don't ask. It basically defies description. Rest assured that this is a real crowd pleaser that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The gags are inventive and non stop. Even the subtitles which, though hardly subtle, more than make up for it with their innovation and cleverness.
The print from which this DVD derives may not be perfect, but it is much better than some of the others I have seen which have been released by other distributors. Up until now, most of the copies which I have viewed are somewhat muddy and lacking contrast. This DVD corrects most of these issues, and delivers the goods in more ways than one.
The musical score deserves special recognition. It has been composed to match the film precisely, and the motifs it employs complement the visuals brilliantly. Pay special attention to the themes which accompany the 'south of the border' portion of the story, and you'll hear what I'm talking about.
Johnny Hines never reached the pinnacle of success that the top silent comedians attained. However, it's very unfair to impose those comparisons upon him. He was, nevertheless, very good at what he did. If you're looking for a fun way to pass 70 minutes, give him a chance, and take a look at "The Crackerjack". You won't regret it.
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.