Friday, July 9, 2010

Hoosier Schoolmaster (1935), Lewis D Collins.

By Monogram standards, this one is pretty classy:  outdoor locations, a cast of dozens, smooth camera work!  It even has a pig on a leash!   Like The Abe Lincoln of Ninth Ave, it's another 30s Monogram whose hero (in this case ex-Civil War soldier Ralph Hartsook) romanticizes the myth of Honest Abe.    In imitation of his idol, Hartsook dons a stovepipe hat to teach the backwoods children of Indiana in a log cabin, easily instilling respect for books and long words and such.  He even takes a shine to Hannah, a "bound girl" pseudo-slave who does all the chores for a local burgher's family.  Now, if Hannah had been black, that would have been something to write home about!  However, she's blonder than a poster child of the Hitler Youth!

"Bound girl" Hannah throws a wink to her brother Shocky.

Hoosier Schoolmaster is a safe, simple story for white folks but it's not unintelligent.  Again, I'm surprised at Monogram's achievement here:  it's well executed -- nicely paced and well acted.  Fred Kohler Jr is great as cartoonish, Lil Abner-esque gentle musclehead Bud and Norman Foster carries the movie well.  He's also foxier than the original Rail Splitter, if you ask me!

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