Beggar on Horseback
BEGGAR ON HORSEBACK. 1925
Director: James Cruze

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



Edward Everett Horton stars as a composer who, deploring his own poverty, agrees to a marriage of comfort in Beggar on Horseback (1925), based on a comic play by George S. Kaufman & Marc Connelly, which opened on Broadway early in 1924 with Roland Young in what the film would make Horton's role.

Three reels survive of the silent film adaptation, including the complete dream sequence which is the heart of the production.

Neil (Horton) is forced to put aside his symphony in the classical mode in order to write tinpan alley tunes. His friend Dr. Rice (Frederick Sullivan) points out that if he married the wealthy Gladys (Gertrude Short), he wouldn't have to take on such miserable work but could concentrate on his serious composing.

After he makes the proposal, Neil falls into a funk, so Dr. Rice gives him a sleeping draught. In a dream that is completely surreal & silly, the protagonist in top-hat & bathrobe is taken by a spirit-guide to a cathedral where he's to be married to Gladys.

There's a frog band, scores of snappy-dressing best men, & a bride with a super-long train. Everybody is jazz dancing. A jive preacher is marrying them. Throughout, Neil's in his bed clothes.

He has a sudden realization he's actually in love with Cynthia (Esther Ralston). Alas, he's now married to a rich girl, having turned his back on love, & thereby marked his life as one of woe, though surrounded by dollar signs & a rain of coins.

Together he & his bride catch a creepy train home. The new groom feels freed from all worry of debt & may now finish his symphony, except it's all he can do merely to contend with the rubbery-legged chair. He loses his mind & kills Gladys & her parents & is sent to prison where he is forced to write jazz songs for life. Damned luckky it was only a dream.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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