The Villain Still Pursued Her
Harold P. Franklin for Franklin-Blank Productions/RKO
directed by Edward F. Cline
starring Richard Cromwell, Alan Mowbray, Anita Louise, Buster Keaton, Joyce Compton, Margaret Hamilton, Diane Fisher, Hugh Herbert, Billy Gilbert, Charles Judels, Eddie Acuff, Ernie Alexander, Bobby Barber, Vernon Dent, Eddie Dunn, Edward Gargan, Arthur Housman, Lew Kelly, Robert McKenzie, Carlotta Monti, Charles Murphy, Jack Norton, Victor Potel, Walter Tetley
written by Elbert Franklin, additional dialogue by Ethel La Blanche, based on the play The Drunkard by William H.Smith, musical director: Frank Tours, cinematography by Lucien Ballard
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Crooked lawyer Silas Cribbs (Alan Mowbray) desperately wants to get his
hands on the land of Edward Middleton (Richard Cromwell), especially since
Middleton is such a kind-hearted young man who's not interested in the
schemes of his lawyer. But Cribbs is one of those lawyers who always has a
bunch of tricks up his sleeve, so at Middleton's wedding to virtuous Mary
(Anita Louise), he gives Middleton his first taste of alcohol, and soon
sees to it that he becomes hooked on the stuff.
Years pass, and
Middleton has become a bona fide alcoholic who has lost all of his
family's fortunes and has moved from his country home to New York, just
because the liquor is more readily available there, but he still hasn't
given up the land he knows that Cribbs is so desperately trying to get. So
Cribbs eventually tricks him into a crime, forging the signature on a
cheque that belongs to Frederick Healey, a renowned philanthropist
Frederick Healey (Hugh Herbert). Thing is though that William Dalton
(Buster Keaton), a man from Middleton's hometown, has long hooked up with
Healey and has witnessed Cribbs persuading almost passed out Middleton to
forge the signature, and now Dalton persuades Healey not to press charges
against Middleton but instead try to get the real culprit, Cribbs, to pay
for his crimes.
Thing is, Dalton's half-crazy sister Hazel (Joyce
Compton) has witnessed Cribbs bury the real last will of Middleton's
father that would have exposed Cribbs ten years ago, but now, in one of
her bright moments, she remembers where - and this way, Cribbs is finally
lured into a trap and everything is set right again.
synopsis might sound incredibly cheesy and unbearably simplistic, just
like an annoying and annoyingly cheesy piece of cinema - Yet The
Villain Still Pursues Her is not, it's an enjoyably silly parody of
morality plays of teh 1800's, complete with incredibly stilted dialogue,
characters talking directly to the camera (and audience), the cast
mercilessly hamming it up (and especially Alan Mowbray is great in that
department), and the message coming across with all the subtlety of a
sledgehammer. And every cliché that is used throughout the film seems to
be there first and foremost to be made fun of, from the guy becoming
hooked on liquor after just one glass to the mother musing over stealing
her daughter's bread out of poverty until the girl offers to share her
blanket with her mother. The only problem the film might have is that in
the end, it tries to tie up all the loose ends, and as a narrative piece
of cinema it's by far not as good as as spoof, but that hardly diminishes
the overall effectiveness of the movie.