The Girl with the Hat Box
Young and beautiful girl (Anna Sten), lives in Moscow, earning a making hats for the fashion store in Moscow. Due to the requirements of the Soviet government on standards of living space, the store owner has to prescribe it fictitiously in his apartment. But in the train she meets a young boy (Ivan Koval-Samborski), and the housing problem changes their lives.
A charming enough early comedy from Barnet, with a few hints of the genius that was to come. It's more corny and silly than it is genuinely amusing, but some nice visual flourishes and Anna Steen make the experience tolerable. It's a nice, cute movie, just not all that remarkable, especially since The House on Trubnaya was only a year away.
The final film of the Barnet marathon was perhaps the weakest of the triple bill this week. The story was a little slow going and the characters were never really fleshed out enough, in favor of broader comedic beats, which more often than not hit.
I did appreciate seeing a female character who is not slavishly devoted to the leading man, but is independent and strong willed - something that is unfortunately quite rare in many of the movies I've seen lately.
Barnet's editing is fantastic as always and less attention-grabbing than his previous films, rather he seemed to opt for a style that enhanced the comedic moments.
The major thing I have taken away from this marathon is that Barnet's editing should be praised not only for being revolutionary and effective, but also very sophisticated.
The alternate title is When Moscow Laughs. Moscow must have been laughing all the time, if this is all it took. It's a pretty wretched attempt at comedy, the kind of thing that makes you appreciate what Chaplin and Keaton and so forth were able to accomplish. Even the potentially funny bits are vitiated by a complete misapprehension of comic timing. Moreover, Barnet apparently hadn't yet learned how to frame a shot (this was his first solo directorial effort, his only previous credit being a three-part serial that he co-directed). He can't even keep the actors' heads in the frame, an oversight so pervasive that I can't even be sure it wasn't simply a printing error somewhere down the line. The film was meant as an advertisement for the lottery, so I suppose it's effective in that regard, but it's of historical interest only.