|Take Your Pick for Thanksgiving 1930|
Remote Control (1930) and Haines' Metro Act Getting Tired
"Wisecracker" (his bio title) William Haines drags contract plow through another lousy vehicle. Seems most Metro talent was as badly served through opener round for talkies. If Chaney had lived, I suspect he'd have been no better off (not that his late silents were great shakes either). Haines was breezier when he didn't talk, obnoxious times two a consequence of handing him speech. The pics were flat programmers too, each less profitable than the last. Remote Control puts Bill to radio announcing, then crime-busting, his guile tendered as equal to tough gang led by John Miljan. Believable? Not for a moment, but then neither was Haines in romance capacity. Did audiences sense the offscreen truth of him? --- because there are tip-offs in gesture and line readings. The usual cadre of comic support is along for joyless ride --- Ed Brophy, Polly Moran, Cliff Edwards (hog-calling), and Benny Rubin. Were folks laughing at this stuff in 1930, or being force-fed by Leo? Too bad so few survive to tell us. What Bill needed was another red-blood actioner like Tell It To The Marines, but that biggest of his had Chaney to lead. Haines evidently didn't care that much about stardom one way or the other, as other ventures (interior decorating) engaged him more. I'll bet he cashed bigger checks in that line than what movies had to give, and was the better in long run for not having press/fans poking into his private life. There's a good coffee table book about rooms he designed. Oh, and one more surprise: TCM ran a spanking new HD transfer of Remote Control, so watch for it next time.