Manhandled ★★★★

Sassy Swanson
From rags to Russian!
"Don't play with fire, kid!"

Swanson is often remembered for her great dramas like Queen Kelly in the silent era, but who knew she was a fantastic silent comic? Her mannerisms remind me of Stanwyck at her Lady Eve, Ball of Fire height, with her perfect sassy eye rolls and asides to herself; a little less spice than Clara Bow but with an extra dimension of sweetness. Opening with a pitch perfect NYC subway scene (oh how little things have changed), this is sort of a pretty basic plot of a naïve girl getting in with the wrong crowd. But scene for scene it’s really, really funny, especially the stuff with Swanson acting like a Russian princess (bonus points for the best interetitle joke I can ever recall). Ending has a harmony to it that is also quite touching, especially given Swanson’s ability to bat those eyelashes.