FERNANDO’s CORNER ~ Posted September 1st, 2016
I watched Josef Von Sternberg’s “Thunderbolt” (1929) which stars George Bancroft as the title character, a dangerous gangster. Bancroft was really big back then and was also a very good actor; I wonder why he did not maintain his popularity, like say Wally Beery, who had a similar screen persona for a while (I think of “Beggars of Life” and Bancroft could well have played Beery’s role).
Fay Wray is very good as this gangster’s moll who wants to go straight and share a life with nice guy Dick Arlen (very good as well). Noteworthy performances by Eugenie Besserrer who gives a most sincere portrayal as Arlen’s mother, especially in one scene in which she scolds him for spilling some medicine on the bathroom’s floor (a superb and most honest scene; incredibly so- “you are nothing but a big baby” she tells him) and Tully Marshall as the grumpy, grouchy Prison Warden who befriends Bancroft; he’s a hoot.
In spite that this is a very early talkie and sometimes gets a little bit over-talky and slow, it is definitely one of the best very early Paramounts I have seen, and that’s thanks to Von Sternberg. Theresa Harris appears in one nightclub scene, singing “Daddy Won’t You Please Come Home” and she’s great!
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