#53) Ella Cinders (1926)
OR “Funnies Girl”
Directed by Alfred E. Green
Written by Mervyn LeRoy and Frank Griffin. Based on the comic strip by William M. Conselman and Charles Plumb.
Class of 2013
The Plot: Ella Cinders (Colleen Moore) is a beautiful young woman treated unfairly by her stepmother and two step sisters (get it?). When a Hollywood studio announces a contest to become their next big star, Ella leaps at the chance and does her darndest to win. It gets very ‘20s from there.
Why It Matters: The NFR calls the film “an archetype of 1920s comedy” and praises Moore’s performance as well as her place in flapper girl history. Moore would eventually be eclipsed in fame and ‘20s influence by Clara Bow, who had a certain….je ne sais quoi, if you will.
But Does It Really?: I say, “Hey why not?” “Ella Cinders” is a very fun comedy featuring an endearing and energetic performance by Moore. And as far as Cinderella films go, I like this Cinderella a lot. No fairy godmother for her, if she wants something she goes out and actually works to get it. Right on, flapper woman!
Everybody Gets One: We get another Colleen Moore film once she converts to sound pictures, but this is her one representation at her peak as a silent film star. Along with her talent and choice of characters that helped revolutionize women in film, Moore helped popularize the famous flapper bob. Moore retired not too long after sound pictures came along, but invested wisely in the stock market and lived comfortably into her late ‘80s.
Wow, That’s Dated: The profession of Iceman, the term “sharpers”, mood music on film sets, photography that still required a sheet covering.
- The first title card calls the town of Roseville the place “where the first bowl of wax bananas appeared on an American sideboard.” I’m already so very lost.
- That cross-eyed scene has some pretty amazing split-screen work. For a moment I thought Moore was really talented.
- Could Chaplin have sued this film for the “Gold Rush”-esque bit Ella does for the kids?
- Despite its association with the 1920s, the bob haircut works in any era.
- “Wimmin”? Was that ever an acceptable way to spell “women”?
- Apparently at least one of those actors on the train was actually Native American, so that’s good.
- Then they call Hollywood “the knicker district of Los Angeles – seat of the bosom heaving industry of America.” Title writer George Marion Jr. has an odd way of describing cities.
- And then he slams Armenian picnics outta nowhere! You’ve gone too far, Marion!
- That chase through the studio is hilarious. Take note, “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure”.
- That’s Mack Sennett clown Harry Langdon playing himself during the chase scene. You can see why he was paired with Oliver Hardy at one point.
- I assume that lion escaped from the MGM lot. Thank you!
- Oh come on, movie! She has to give up film stardom to marry what’s-his-name? Can’t she have both, like the contrived ending of “La La Land”?
- Ella Cinders the comic strip continued until 1961. The Hollywood plotline from the film gave way to lots of other adventures.
- The Cinderella fairy tale has been told on film many many times over the years. But will any version be able to top “Caddyshack”?
- I’m gonna go ahead and blame this film for all films based on comic strips. We’ll start with “Garfield” and go from there.
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