The Boob & Why Be Good? Blu-ray Review

2 Stars An uninspired silent comedy double feature
The Boob & Why Be Good Review

Today, The Boob and Why Be Good?. These rather average silent comedies do look and sound surprisingly good for their age.

The Boob (1926)
Released: 17 May 1926
Rated: Passed
Runtime: 64 min
Director: William A. Wellman
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Cast: Gertrude Olmstead, George K. Arthur, Joan Crawford
Writer(s): George Scarborough, Annette Westbay, Kenneth B. Clarke
Plot: Idealistic farm boy Peter loves Amy whose fancy is urbane Harry. He discovers Harry is a rum runner and turns him over to prohibition agents, including Jane. May is at last impressed with Peter.
IMDB rating: 5.4
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: MGM
Distributed By: Warner Archive
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 2 Hr. 22 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: keep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: All
Release Date: 03/26/2024
MSRP: $21.99

The Production: 2.5/5

Warner Archive has spiffed up two silent comedies from the vast holdings of MGM and Warner Bros./First National and is offering them up as a silent comedy double feature: 1926’s The Boob and 1929’s Why Be Good? Truth to tell, neither is a distinguished comedy of the silent period; they’re both movies that formed the bread-and-butter backbone of the movie industry of that time with simple stories offering the era’s big names a chance to appear before their eager public in something new. That we still have these films that are almost ready to pass the century mark is pretty much their main claim to fame.

The Boob – 2/5

Country lass Amy (Gertrude Olmsted) is being swept off her feet by the sophisticated city dandy Harry Benson (Antonio D’Algy) much to the despair of Amy’s former boy friend Peter Good (George K. Arthur). Peter is determined to win Amy back, and he decides he can rise in her estimation if he can round up a notorious pack of bootleggers operating out of the The Booklovers’ Club. With the help of Cactus Jim (Charles Murray) who suits Peter up in some swank cowboy duds, Peter is off to thwart the gang.

When your movie is stolen by a feisty dog named Benzine whose every endeavor (rolling around in a drunken stupor, swimming to the rescue of his master, battling the bad guys in heroic fashion) lifts this otherwise mundane action comedy, you have to know you’re in trouble. Director William A. Wellman does his best to enliven a very predictable script (there’s even a dream sequence near the end where Peter keeps knocking out his rival who continues springing back for more punishment), but the drunken antics of Charles Murray, the reliable Hank Mann battling with celery and olives, and the unique speakeasy The Booklovers Club where the liquor is sequestered in voluminous tomes and the chorus girls have their costumes blown off them can’t rescue a threadbare, barely amusing scenario. Dressed in an oversized cowboy outfit, George K. Arthur tries to carry the story, but he’s only sporadically effective. Joan Crawford peeps in for a couple of scenes as a federal agent on the trail of the bootleggers, but despite looking serious and authoritative in this rural setting, she doesn’t make a strong impression in this early role.

Why Be Good? – 3/5

Jazz baby working girl Pert Kelly (Colleen Moore) loves nothing more than to kick up her heels at the local speakeasies entering dance contests and often coming home with the oversized loving cup as a prize. Rich boy Winthrop Peabody (Neil Hamilton) notices her at The Boiler and is instantly smitten with her, and they dance and talk into the wee hours of the morning. The next day, Pert is fifteen minutes late for work and when sent to the personnel manager for a reprimand, he turns out to be Winthrop! He had promised his father (Edward Martindel) that he wouldn’t get mixed up with any of the salesgirls who are constantly throwing themselves at him, but his father is certain he’s about to break that promise and promptly fires Pert hoping it will end things with his son. But Winthrop isn’t so easily dissuaded despite his father’s insistence that Pert seems to be a girl with loose morals and easy virtue.

At its best, Casey Wilson’s screenplay touches on class distinctions, modern men’s differing expectations for the women they want to date and the women they want to marry, and a woman’s difficult juggling act to maintain her reputation and still have a good time in the madcap 1920s. There’s a fair bit of wild dancing and the expected hoary melodrama tossed in to sweeten the mix (directed with surety but little flair by William A. Seiter), but it’s really a fine showcase for the comic and dramatic skills of star Colleen Moore who more than earns her top billing. She was still among the top ten box-office stars as her reign as a silent star was coming to an end (fifth in 1929), and Neil Hamilton makes an earnest and handsome suitor. Bodil Rosing is a wise and loving mother for Pert, but both John Sainpolis and Edward Martindel as the fathers of Pert and Winthrop respectively show their low regard for women with their mistrust of Pert without offering her the benefit of the doubt as to her virtue. The main supporting cast does okay in service to the two stars, but it’s the list of bit players that hide some soon-to-be famous names. Look quickly to see if you can spot Mischa Auer, Andy Devine, Jean Harlow, Phil Harris, Randolph Scott, and Grady Sutton among the large cast of extras.

Video: 4/5

3D Rating: NA

Both films boast a 1.33:1 aspect ratio being presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. The Boob seems a bit too bright on occasion, and there are continuity errors in the day-for-night sequences as the editing switches from one character to another, but the image is amazingly clean and artifact free. Why Be Good? has some slight scratches here and there, but it has a more film-like look than its disc companion. There is one scene near the end in which the contrast is too severe giving the picture a very digital look. The Boob has been divided into 17 chapters while Why Be Good? has 21 chapters.

Audio: 4/5

Both films offer a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 sound mix. The Boob has a jaunty piano score by Arthur Barrow that was added to the film in 2003, and its stereo presentation here would score a 5/5. Why Be Good? presents its original synchronized sound effects and music score and offers adequate fidelity for audio elements of such elevated age. The 3/5 score is the result of consistent soft hiss which was not able to be completely eliminated, occasionally sounding crackly and even sporting some distortion.

Special Features: 0/5

There are no bonus materials offered on this disc.

Overall: 2.5/5

With so many silent films still not offered on Blu-ray disc, the double feature of The Boob and Why Be Good? makes one wonder why these two rather uninspired comedies were chosen for presentation. Warner Archive has done a good job making them look and sound the best they can, but one can only watch and wait for more distinguished silent film offerings from them in the future.

Matt has been reviewing films and television professionally since 1974 and has been a member of Home Theater Forum’s reviewing staff since 2007, his reviews now numbering close to three thousand. During those years, he has also been a junior and senior high school English teacher earning numerous entries into Who’s Who Among America’s Educators and spent many years treading the community theater boards as an actor in everything from Agatha Christie mysteries to Stephen Sondheim musicals.

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jim_falconer

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Excellent review. Like you, I think my favorite part of The Boob was the dream sequence, with all the Harry’s continuously coming out from different parts of the car
 

Ed Lachmann

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Come on WB Archives, give us some more of these wonderful silents. God that we might see Greed, The Wind, 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Student Prince and The Crowd (all with the Carl Davis scores), please!
 

Broomy

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Come on WB Archives, give us some more of these wonderful silents. God that we might see Greed, The Wind, 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Student Prince and The Crowd (all with the Carl Davis scores), please!
I could see Greed (and maybe The Wind) going to Criterion but I wholeheartedly agree with this. I loved The Big Parade and Our Dancing Daughters so want to see more silents from WAC.
 

Robert Crawford

Crawdaddy
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Why are we thread crapping this review thread with requests for other silent films? Wouldn’t such posts be more appropriate and effective in the Warner Archive announcement thread.
 
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