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Tell It to the Marines (23-Dec-1926)

Director: George W. Hill

Writers: Richard Schayer; Joe Farnham

Producer: George Hill

Keywords: Comedy

NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Lon Chaney
1-Apr-1883 26-Aug-1930 The Phantom of the Opera
William Haines
2-Jan-1900 26-Dec-1973 Hollywood's first openly gay leading man
Carmel Myers
4-Apr-1899 9-Nov-1980 Ben-Hur
Warner Oland
3-Oct-1879 6-Aug-1938 Charlie Chan


Lon Chaney   ...   Sgt. O'Hara
William Haines   ...   Pvt. "Skeet" Burns
Eleanor Boardman   ...   Norma Dale
Carmel Myers   ...   Zaya
Eddie Gribbon   ...   Cpl. Madden
Warner Oland   ...   Chinese Bandit Chief
Mitchell Lewis   ...   Native
Frank Currier   ...   Gen. Wilcox
Maurice Kains   ...   Harry


Review by Allan Maurer (posted on 9-Apr-2009)

Silent star Lon Chaney may be best known today for his "monster" roles as the "Phantom of the Opera," and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," but he was a versatile character actor who played many types of roles. Here, he wears no makeup, but his expressive face does the work. In "Tell It to the Marines," which TCM shows from time to time, and like a handful of his films, is readily available in the recycing bin world we live in, he literally created the now iconic tough Marine drill sergeant image. The film also stars William Haines, the first openly gay male movie star, playing a reluctant marine in basic training. Here, he rivals Chaney for the affections of a Navy nurse (Eleannor Boardman, little know today) on the base. She falls for the handsome and charming Haines. Chaney's tough marine sergeant accepts this with grace but not without great sadness. The son of deft mutes, Chaney's silent acting is always moving and convincing. The film was well received when it appeared in 1926 and holds up better than many silents. The print TCM shows is in great shape, showing little of the decay that the nitrate films of the period suffer from so often. Although like many silent films, this gets melodramatic from time to time, it's fun throughout. Silents have a peculiar charm today, but many were absolutely outstanding films that survive on their own merit. "Tell it to the Marines" is one. It's the very first of the boot camp to battle films and set the stage for the rest.

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