Lucky Star, 1929like
Presented at the 1996 SF Silent Film Festival
Cast Janet Gaynor (Mary Tucker), Charles Farrell (Timothy Osborn), Guinn “Big Boy” Williams (Martin Wrenn), Hedwig Reicher (Mrs. Tucker), Paul Fix (Joe), Gloria Grey (Hilly), Hector Sarno (Pop Fry) Production Fox Film Corporation Producer William Fox Photography Chester Lyons and William Cooper Smith Editors Katharine Hilliker and H.H. Caldwell Art Direction Harry Oliver Scenario Sonya Levien, based on the short story “Three Episodes in the Life of Timothy Osborn” by Tristan Tupper
Print Source George Eastman House
Musical Accompaniment Jim Riggs
Program Note by Melissa Chittick and Stephen Salmons
Made at the end of the silent era, Lucky Star was released in both silent and part-talking versions, although only the silent version survives today. Advertisements for the film touted “Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell together again in their first talking picture.” Known as “America’s Favorite Lovebirds,” Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell were one of the most popular romantic teams of the late silent and early sound years and appeared together in 12 films.
Janet Gaynor grew up in San Francisco and worked as an usherette for the Castro Theatre in the early 1920s before moving to Hollywood. In 1929, she received the first Academy Award ever given for Best Actress. It was a cumulative award for her work in three films: Sunrise (1927), Seventh Heaven (1927), and Street Angel (1928), the latter two directed by Frank Borzage and costarring Charles Farrell.
During the years he teamed with Janet Gaynor, tall and handsome Charles Farrell enjoyed enormous popularity. Later in his career he played Gale Storm’s father on the television series My Little Margie and also entered the political arena when he was elected mayor of Palm Springs.
Considered one of the great Hollywood romanticists, director Frank Borzage began his career in 1912 as an actor. He appeared in dozens of melodramas, comedies, and westerns before he began directing for Universal in 1916. Lucky Star was the tenth film Frank Borzage directed for the Fox Film Corporation. He is one of the few directors to have won an Academy Award for both a silent film, Seventh Heaven (1927), and a sound film, Bad Girl (1931). Of the 105 films directed by Frank Borzage, 44 are yet to be located.
Previously considered lost, a 35mm print of Lucky Star was discovered only six years ago in the Nederlands Filmmuseum in Amsterdam. It was restored for its 1990 revival premiere at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, the week-long silent film festival in Pordenone, Italy.
Melissa Chittick and Stephen Salmons are the founders of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.