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Matchmaking Mama

Ring a Ding Ding

Matchmaking Mama (1929)

Carole Lombard made probably just as many or more silent movies and shorts as she did talkies, but unfortunately, the hilarity in Matchmaking Mama has nothing to do with her role. This short subject features Lombard as a socialite with an eye for men, any men. Her mother (Daphne Pollard) has her sights set on Larry (Matty Kemp) as a suitable husband for daughter Phyllis, who is also cast in a play that requires he kiss the young woman.

As rehearsals for this musical play go on at the home of matchmaking mother Cornelia McNitt, her husband bungles about and is clearly not at home in his house, which is run by tyrannical Cornelia. When Cornelia learns via telegram that her husband’s daughter is coming to visit from the convent she attends, the tiny woman is livid.

In a case of mistaken identity, Phyllis sends Larry to the kitchen to have the maid sew up a tear in his trousers. When he enters the room, however, he comes upon Sally McNitt (Sally Eilers), having just arrived from the convent, who is trying to pull a smoking pan from the oven using her skirt as oven mitts. The man is entranced by her legs, but being a very modest girl, Sally scurries about trying to figure out how to put the pan down without further exposing herself.

The two fall instantly in love, but a scene later, Larry spies Sally on her father’s lap kissing him, and mistakes the man for her sweetheart. That confusion is cleared up but when Cornelia learns of the romance, she tells Sally that Larry is engaged to Phyllis and is a horrible flirt. This leads Sally to cast the man off and both parties are terribly unhappy.

Pollard even without sound plays an intolerable small woman with the fury of someone twice her size. We can see easily from her interactions with others how dominant she is, and the witty dialogue of the intertitles does wonders for this comedy. You can see her at her vocal best in Laurel and Hardy’s Our Relations. The story is adorable and romantic; I only regret Lombard was not featured more prominently. Her glamorous side was certainly played up over her comedic possibilities. Matchmaking Mama also features a scene photographed in color. Technicolor made possible a limited dance routine scene that features a bunch of young women in green and red hues.

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