Lazybones (1925)

21 02 2009

It might just be the presence of the charming Buck Jones, but this small-scaled early Borzage picture plays out a little bit like a continuation of Ford’s own Jones production, Just Pals. This is 85 minutes of funny, yet bittersweet moments featuring Jones constantly getting his heart broken. It’s not a big artistic achievement for Borzage, but it doesn’t seem like he wanted it to be in the first place. Instead, it’s a nice way to spend a little less than an hour and a half.

While the content here is viewed in a very “light” manner, it doesn’t really dilute the overall sadness of the scenario. Jones plays the title character, a lazy young man in the middle of a relationship with Agnes. Unfortunately, her mother does not approve of him. Meanwhile, Agnes’ sister, Ruth, is set to marry a man of her mother’s choosing. However, her mother is unaware of the relationship she shared with a recently deceased fisherman and their child. She dumps the child in a nearby river and attempts suicide. Lazybones manages to rescue both Ruth and her child, who he adopts and names Kit. Time passes quickly (as it often does in these sort of films) and Kit is already an attractive young woman. Lazybones returns from the war and falls in love with his adopted daughter.

Buck Jones channels Buster Keaton a lot here. Fortunately, for my sake, there is very little of that physical comedy that defines Keaton’s work, and more realistic situational comedy. The whole story would be pretty heartbreaking if Borzage hadn’t handled it in such a downbeat, deadpan manner. Borzage also manages to add some of his (eventually) trademark expressionistic touches. No one should approach this film and expect a breathtakingly visual experience, but with that said, the film does look very nice. If there’s any problem, it’s that it feels too nice and insignificant, but that’s a big part of its charm.

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One response

9 10 2014
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