Lost Film Files #12: Dry Martini (1928) starring Mary Astor

Status: Missing and presumed lost

Mary Astor signed on with Fox and her first effort was Dry Martini, which co-starred Matt Moore.

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From descriptions, this film sounds like a last gasp of the 1920s style. A wild father and his equally wild daughter (Mary Astor) are trying to hide their escapades from one another. The film contains a “companionate marriage.” Defined as “a form of marriage in which the partners agree not to have children and can be divorced by mutual consent, leaving neither spouse legally responsible for the financial welfare of the other,” it was seen as quite scandalous in the ’20s.

Motion Picture News found the film and performances fun but a little light:

dry-martini-1928-mary-astor (3)It isn’t a very meaty picture — is this “Dry Martini,” but it doesn’t make any pretensions of being something extraordinary. It has a slight little yarn which it tells without exacting any work from one’s brain cells. The idea is rather original in that it exploits a giddy papa who tries to hide his sins from his daughter. But the girl has some modern ideas, too. So much so that she tries to go through with a companionate marriage. The girl has an admirer — a young man who joins forces with the daddy to prevent the girl from carrying out her designs. But the youth doesn’t fare so well in the end even though he becomes reconciled to her.

The picture has pep enough, but it never seems to get going on the promise of the early footage. It carries a fine production — is well cast and the incident is dashed off speedily enough. But it doesn’t get very far in arousing one’s interest. The piece will afford amusement without making screen history as something out of the way.

The best feature is the sound accompaniment. The score is perfectly synchronized. And the acting is up to requirements, Mary Astor as the daughter, Albert Gran as the daddy, and Matt Moore as the boy friend giving well-rounded performances.

You can tell this was the late twenties from the emphasis on the sound synchronization. Taken for granted today, it was not always accomplished in the early era of pre-recorded silent film scores.

Photoplay was more enthusiastic, finding the film and performances delightful:

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You know the suave, sophisticated sort of stuff done by Director Harry D’Arrast. This is in the smartest D’Arrast manner, with many of the scenes laid in front of the Ritz bar in Paris. A mellow old expatriated American dwells pleasantly in the French capital — until his daughter comes to visit him for the first time in ten years. Daughter is a little too sophisticated for the old fellow and lands Willoughby Quimby and his friends in all sorts of tribulations.

Albert Gran is delightful as the conservative old playboy, Willoughby Quimby, while Matt Moore is excellent as a perpetually bunned young American. Mary Astor is admirable as the daughter. A neat bit is contributed by Jocelyn Lee, who plays Georgette, something more than friend to the elderly Quimby.

Much of film preservation is focused on saving serious films, artistic marvels. Those are certainly important but can’t we spare a bit of trouble for the light confections?

As usual, please keep your eyes peeled for this film!

4 Replies to “Lost Film Files #12: Dry Martini (1928) starring Mary Astor”

  1. Such a shame this film is lost, but I enjoyed reading your piece about it – I liked both the d’Arrasts I’ve seen, the talkies ‘Laughter’ and ‘Topaze’, and it would be great if this silent were to be rediscovered in an attic somewhere. Also enjoyed the scenes you have posted from Oh Doctor!

  2. What’s not to love about a movie called “Dry Martini”? Thanks for recommending. I will keep an eye out for this.

    Thanks for participating in our blogathon. 🙂

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