Run, Girl, Run

Ring a Ding Ding

When trying to work my way through the lists of movies in which my favorite stars appear, I find myself unendingly frustrated by the often extensive number of pictures made before 1929, ie. the silent era. Silent films, although regularly featured on TCM, nevertheless are low on the priority list in terms of availability to the public. Even worse are the silent shorts, which stars like Carole Lombard tallied up quickly in the early days of filmmaking. TCM thankfully came through for me in playing that star’s Run, Girl, Run, 30-minute short she made under producer Mack Sennett. Lombard was a part of his company and learned the ways of comedy under his tutelage. Read more about it at

Lombard, with her glorious good looks, plays here as she often did, the pretty girl with a boyfriend. She attends a girls’ boarding school that focuses on athletics, particularly track and field, and might be the star runner among her other lofty titles. Despite being in the glamorous role, Lombard still manages to solicit some laugh from us, but the majority of comedy credit lies with costar Daphne Pollard as the coach.

Pollard is short and small but makes clear to the audience right off that she is not one to be trifled with. The actress uses great physical comedy to elicit the majority of the movie’s laughs, such as when running toward a hurdle her sweater inches its way down until it has the effect of a potato sack.

After an initial scene of the girl athletes training, evening arrives and Lombard’s Norma attempts to sneak out to meet her sweetheart. The coach catches her in the hall, brings the young woman into her room, and after some arguing, strips the girl and puts her to bed. To ensure she will not escape to the beau outside, the coach holds Norma’s hand as they fall asleep. The boyfriend, however, helps Norma to replace her hand with an inflated rubber glove, which has the coach duped until the dean awakes her.

Following the night’s shenanigans, the girls face a rival school and the coach feels the pressure of the dean’s threat to fire her if the team loses. Norma narrowly loses one race because she powders her nose en route but pulls through in the end.

I find that photographs of Lombard from early in her career often do not look like the woman we came to know through the talking picture days. That is also the case in Run, Girl, Run, which required some eye squinting to determine the lead was in fact Lombard. Although the picture shown on TCM had new intertitles, the actual film was of a fair quality also hindering my ability to make a positive ID.

Run, Girl, Run was a fun movie even if Lombard wasn’t the best part. I like it better than Matchmaking Mama that had enough other characters for Lombard to get a bit lost on screen.

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2 Responses

  1. Carole’s character is named Norma Nurmi, an inside joke recognizable to most sports fans of the 1920s, as there was a male Finnish distance runner named Paavo Nurmi who won multiple Olympic gold medals.

    Lombard looks a bit different in Sennett films because Mack encouraged her to gain a few pounds to give her a shapelier figure, leading her to be nicknamed “Carole of the curves.” She lost most of those curves and pounds, becoming the more familiar, lithe Lombard, when she went to Pathe in 1929; the studio also removed the “e” from her first name, which she didn’t take back until the latter part of 1930 at Paramount.

    Also, I believe Carole’s character in “Run, Girl, Run” attends a college, not a boarding school. While most college films’ sports activities of the time focused on male athletics (generally football), a few dealt with women’s sports, including the 1927 Marion Davies feature “The Fair Co-Ed,” where Marion plays a basketball star. (Lombard was naturally athletic, winning several school awards for track and other endeavors.)

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