I finished the fabulous Fairbanks set.
Reaching For the Moon--Doug plays a Walter Mitty-like character who daydreams about hanging out with visiting dignitaries. The plot is filled with unrealized potential and is really only mildly amusing. Would have made a great two-reeler.
A Modern Musketeer--as gagman stated at the beginning of this thread, this is a terrific movie. Funny, exciting and effortless, this is one of Doug's giant links to his later swashbucklers. With the Grand Canyon as his playground, how could the film miss? Great fun.
When the Clouds Roll By--Hands down Doug's best contemporary comedy. An absolutely brilliant satire on the relatively new field of psychology ( a doctor tests his crazy theories on Doug, trying to make him commit suicide), the film boasts and inventive, spectacular (and hysterical) dream sequence (which rivals the "serious" one found in G.W. Pabst's Secrets of a Soul. Suffice to say that Doug is tormented by his late-nite dinner, including a giant onion and a piece of mince pie!)
The Mollycoddle--Fairbanks retreats back to his formula character, the nebbish who turns hero. This time he's an expatriate dandy, who, when he returns to his roots in Arizona, turns into a full fledged cowboy and saves the day. More of the same, unfortunately, but there is a terrific scene involving real Hopi Indians doing a dance. Doug jumps in and grabs one of the Hopi women and does some "modern" steps. It's obviously unstaged and quite endearing.
The Nut--after an inspired opening (involving Doug as a wacky inventor, and the gadgets he's set up to get himself up in the morning), the film, again, is reduced to the same-ol-same-ol. This time, though, there's an odd mix of slapstick (a marvelous sequence involving stolen wax figures), melodrama, and modern comedy, and while the mix doesn't add up to a very satisfying whole, many of the parts are quite amusing (watch for the cameo by "Charlie Chaplin", whom Doug boots in the pants!)
The Mark of Zorro--The restoration looks great, and the score by the Mont Alto Orchestra is terrific. Seen again, after many of Doug's comedies, this film falls right into place, but is leaps and bounds better. It's interesting that Fairbanks was able to find a vehicle that allowed him to keep his formula "lamb" turns "lion" character, but here he is able to play them at the same time. We don't have to wait for Don Diego Vega to become the hero, because we've already seen he is. And what a hero! Zorro's final chase sequence, where he's going to "eat breakfast" is as funny and exciting today as it was in 1920. And Doug looks to be having the time of his life. Even when he's Don Diego, Doug looks comfortable in his performance and, while the character is a total fop, Doug doesn't over act (as he was prone to do in his earlier films). I simply love all of his kerchief tricks, and the payoff with that gag, kissing de la Motte at the film's end, is perfect. Fairbanks didn't just create the swashbuckler, he created the superhero, too. Heck, Zorro even has his own "bat cave"! This one, for me, is a masterpiece.
"Let's be independent together." Dr. Hermey DDS