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Poker Faces


This excellent comedy feature, directed by Harry A. Pollard, stars Edward Everett Horton and Laura La Plante, with Dorothy Revier, Tom Ricketts and George Siegmann.

Jimmy Whitmore (Horton) is known by coworkers as “Poker Face” because of his inscrutable countenance. For this reason, he is selected by his boss (Ricketts) to meet an important potential client George Dixon (Siegmann) at the train station to kick off their business negotiations. However, a series of miscommunications and accidents keeps Jimmy from his appointed task.

Meanwhile, a scrape with his wife Betty (La Plante) costs Jimmy his home serenity as she spitefully propels herself back into the workforce, leaving their apartment while he is at work. Jimmy discovers this after he has been instructed to bring his pretty wife to a dinner gathering with the new client at his boss’s home. At a loss to find Betty, Jimmy engages an actress to pose as his wife that evening.

Jimmy arrives with his ‘wife’ but what he doesn’t know is that Betty has been hired as his boss’s secretary and she is there, as well. Dixon takes a shine to Betty and they leave together in a huff. Jimmy pursues them again to the train station, only to bicker with Betty and have Dixon judge him to be a persistent masher.

Having missed the train, all of them return to the boss’s home and there proceeds to be a round of jealous pouts and spiteful actions. Being late, it is decided that all parties are to stay the night but Jimmy’s wife urgently must leave due to the curfew imposed by her actual prizefighter husband (Tom O’Brien). Misunderstandings and peril inevitably follows in expected comic fashion.

Edward Everett Horton is excellent in the first of his starring vehicles for Universal and Laura La Plante is endlessly charming in a role that was another step in her rise to stardom. The screen lights up each time she smiles. Siegmann is more meanacing than O’Brien, who chews the scenery as the jealous boxer husband.

Part formula farce and part inspired domestic comedy, Poker Faces rises above the usual fare buoyed by the immensely likeable performances by Horton and La Plante.

Carl Bennett

coverKino Classics
2023 Blu-ray Disc edition

Oh! Doctor! (1925), black & white, 66 minutes, not rated, with Poker Faces (1926), color-tinted black & white, 83 minutes, not rated.

Kino Lorber, K26227, UPC 7-38329-26227-3.
One single-sided, dual-layered, Region A Blu-ray Disc; 1.33:1 aspect ratio picture in pillarboxed 16:9 (1920 x 1080 pixels) 24 fps progressive scan image encoded in SDR AVC format at 32.2 Mbps average video bit rate; DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo sound encoded at 1.7 Mbps audio bit rate (music), and Dolby Digital (AC3) 1.0 mono sound encoded at 192 Kbps audio bit rate (commentary); English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles; 10 chapter stops; standard BD keepcase; $29.95.
Release date: 18 April 2023.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 8 / audio: 9 / additional content: 8 / overall: 8.

This Blu-ray Disc edition has been mastered from a 4K high-definition conflation of two archival prints: a color-tinted 16mm reduction print held by the UCLA Film and Television Archive, and a 16mm reduction print held by the Library of Congress. For their being reduction prints, the source material is very-good to excellent, with a broad range of greytones that are controlled in the highlights and with open and detailed shadows. The image quality from the main source print exceeds that of very-good 35mm dupe prints we have seen in the past. Footage from the secondary print is very-good with a more pronounced amount of film grain remaining in the scan.

The film is accompanied by a very-good, bubbly music score by Zach Marsh as performed by a small ensemble.

Supplementary material includes audio commentaries for both films in the set by film critic Adam Nayman.

As this is the only home video edition of the film known to us, we very enthusiastically recommend thie Blu-ray Disc edition.

USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region A Blu-ray Disc edition from Your purchase supports Silent Era.
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region A Blu-ray Disc edition from Your purchase supports Silent Era.
This Region A Blu-ray Disc edition is also available directly from . . .
Other silent era EDWARD EVERETT HORTON films available on home video.
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