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After you've seen the picture at the Metropolitan this week, you'll realize that it's better to buy a Cine-Kodak and roll your own.
Bebe Daniels plays the title role, but the title scarcely fits the role. The popular notion of a Campus Flirt, born of the novels of Percy Marks, and Scott Fitzgerald's maunderings upon the younger generation and jelly rolls, demands that a Flirt flirt. By the same token, if Flirt means flirt, Charlie Paddock means run. And except for one long distance shot of "the fastest human" showing his heels to a bunch of girl hurdlers, Paddock did even less running than Bebe did flirting.
These would be absurd quibbles in a picture where every other prospect pleased and lived up to expectations, but those failures were typical. The Campus Flirt compared to "Variety", the German film, which is touring the backstreets of Boston, as a road show of "Uncle Tem's Cabin" compares to Iolanthe. Any one of Mack Sennet's directors could have thrown together a better chorus of track ladies with ten minutes notice, and provided better comedy than was afforded here.
Exaggeration is the sphere of the movies. But exaggeration, done well, presupposes imagination. In "Variety" all the clever photography in the world was called into play, and even the censor's shear's could not prevent the film from presenting a vitality which few American films can boast. And "variety" was not the toast of Berlin, either. This is not intended as Europophilia. Everything that comes out of the German movie would is not good. Less than one percent of what comes out of Hollywood is creditable.
And above all this applies to college films. Almost without exception, college movies have conspired to paint college as a grotesque. College is just one great big democracy where all the little boys and girls run track every afternoon or get well sneered at, and deservedly, too. The caption writers on college films, with the exception of Yale's Greatest American Wisecracker, Donald Ogden Stewart, are as smug and healthy as Lifebuoy. Clean, upstanding, virile, they preach the doctrine of mens sana in corpore sano, and in so many words, too. And they are as humorless as they are smug.
College is fundamentally funny, alive with absurdities, incongruities, but they rarely consist of girls who come to college thinking they are Grand Duchesses, and dressing the part. They become grand duchesses later.
Whoop it up for dear old Colton, the co-ed college where the scene is laid, for Charles Paddock--Himself, and for the janitor's pet mouse which ran up Bebe Daniel's silk stocking, frightened the haughty young lady, and made her outdo the best girl hurdler old Colton could boast. Whoop it up for the Kappa Betas, who taught the haughty young lady a lesson, and then when she had won the relay for dear old Colton, promptly took her in. Whoop it up for the director who conceived the notion of locking Bebe in the Astronomy Observatory all night, the night before the race. And whoop it up for our hero, name of Dennis, who wears Wetzel suits and snap brim hats, and never moves a muscle of his face.
Reviewers think themselves very lucky when they escape the divertissement which Boston's Finest Moving Picture Theatre offers its patrons, but the next time we go, we're going to reverse our last schedule, and instead of missing the prelude, we'll miss the feature. And it will be just our luck to fall to see Adolphe Menjou
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