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Exit Smiling

(silent 1926 b 77')

En: 6 Ed: 5

Based on a story by Marc Connelly, a young actress helps and falls in love with a young man who gets a job in their acting company, but he left a girl-friend behind and is suspected of embezzling from a bank.

            A repertory theater company is performing in New York. The leading lady is late, and Cecil Lovelace (Franklin Pangborn) complains it affects his nerves. Violet (Beatrice Lillie) practices her lines in her dressing-room, and she tells the director Orlando Wainwright (DeWitt Jennings) that she can play the leading role of Dolores Du Barry better than anyone. He hears the audience stamping their feet and agrees. Violet changes out of the maid’s costume into a flounce dress and a whig. The theater manager tells the audience they will start soon.

             The star Olga (Doris Lloyd) comes in and tells Wainwright she has been learning about real beer. She prepares, and Violet changes back to the maid.

            On stage the play begins with the maid and others. In the third act Dolores is disguised as a vampire and saves her lover. The play ends, and Violet is not allowed on stage for a curtain call.

            The actors change their clothes, and Olga takes a light bulb. Violet tries to look sophisticated.

            The actors are eating donuts, and Wainwright tells them to get on the train. They board the train at night.

            At the East Farnham station Jimmy Marsh (Jack Pickford) gets on the train. Violet comes out of a car and practices her dramatics. Jimmy sees her, becomes concerned, and carries her back into the car. She tells him about their repertory company. She was rehearsing the vampire scene from Flaming Women. She says it is a great role. He wanted to meet an actress but goes out of the car. Violet accidentally sits on Cecil.

            They stop at Jasper Junction to do their play. Jimmy tells boys he met the star of the show. Violet shakes out her drying laundry on top of Jimmy. She complains to a janitor that the actors have to do the work of servants. Without looking she hands her laundry to Wainwright who tells her to send a telegram after cleaning up. She gets off the train and sits next to Jimmy, saying she was rehearsing the maid’s part. She hopes to play the vampire role sometime. She asks where he is going, and he says he is looking for a job. She reads the telegram to be sent and sees that Wainwright is asking for a juvenile to be sent to their next stop for a salary of $18. Jimmy sees the train left the show car, and she tells him he might be able to get that job and shows him the message. Wainwright comes out of the car, and she tells him that Jimmy would like that job. Jimmy shakes his head, and she stomps on his foot. He says he won an elocution prize in school. Violet promises she will teach him a part. Olga suggests that he give him a tryout.

            Violet and Jimmy walk to a romantic place to rehearse on a farm. She tells him to rehearse the love scene with her. She opens a gate and lets the pigs out. She pleads with him as he lays on the ground.

            In the theater the company is rehearsing. Violet and Jimmy come in, and she says they will do a death scene. She lays down on the stage, and he comes to her. The actress asks him if he can cry. He pleads, and his tears flow. Wainwright is amazed, and Cecil cries too. The actress says the kid “knows his onions.” Wainwright says he will give him a chance and shakes his hand. He introduces Jimmy to Olga, and he is taken to a dressing-room.

            Jimmy left a girl behind in East Farnham. Her father urges her to forget Jimmy and accept Jesse Watson (Harry Myers) who works in a bank.

            In an office Tod Powell (Tenen Holtz) tells Watson that he must pay him the $1,000 he owes him. Watson says they believe Jimmy stole $5,000 from that bank. The man says Watson paid him a $5,000 gambling debt that night. Watson says that Jimmy’s running away proves his guilt.

            Jimmy’s girl-friend tells her father that she cannot believe that Jimmy did anything wrong.

            On the train Jimmy plays cards with actors.

            Violet is trying to cut meat and uses a man’s razor. She tells the card-players that dinner is ready and scares Cecil with a butcher knife. The actors sit around a table to dine and complain about having beans. Violet serves some meat and bread to Jimmy. One man takes most of the meat, and she changes plates with him to serve others. She tosses a piece of bread to Wainwright and pours too much ketchup on Cecil’s plate. Violet kneels on the floor next to Jimmy and eats. Wainwright tells Jimmy he will let him play the villain in Flaming Women.

            Jimmy and Violet go out on a platform. He reads a magazine, and she sits next to him. He drops the magazine and holds her hand. He remembers seeing his girl-friend at the bank.

            Violet is in love and tries to iron but burns a shirt. She folds it and throws it in the fire. She picks up an iron in a block of ice and puts it on the stove. She picks up the hot iron and works on a garment.

            In bed Jimmy sees the sign for East Farnham, gets up, and asks Violet if they are playing there. He is worried and says he cannot appear there. He says he worked in the bank, and there was trouble. She believes he is innocent but says she will work it so that he does not have to appear. She will have Anna play her part as the maid.

            That night at the theater Wainwright hands out police costumes to two men from the town. The curtain goes up, and Jimmy acts sick backstage. Violet tells Wainwright she can play his part with a mustache. She dresses as a man and trips going on stage. She puts her arms around Olga and pulls off her whig. She acts like a villain, and Cecil has a gun and fights with her over it. She gets the gun, and Wainwright has to tell her what to say next. Her mustache comes off, and Cecil picks it up for her. He threatens her, and two policemen enter. People in the audience recognize them. Violet tries to woo Olga but is saying her lines at the same time as she is. Violet knocks over a table, and people laugh. She loses her boot in the audience and picks it up as the curtain closes.

            Backstage Wainwright pays the two men who see Jimmy and will tell their friends. Violet tells Wainwright she may not be good as the villain, but she can play the vampire.

            At the door of the theater Powell tells Watson that Jimmy is there, and maybe he will enable Watson to pay his debt. They go in and see Jimmy, and Powell demands the $1,000. Watson says he has evidence to clear Jimmy.

            Violet carries Olga on stage and lays her on the couch. Offstage Watson tells Powell he will be back with the money and leaves. Violet pours wine on Olga’s face. Violet tries to seduce her.

            A man comes backstage and says he has a warrant for Powell, who hears this and writes a note at a desk. He asks a man to give the note to Watson when he comes back and leaves. On stage Violet opens the envelope and reads about the “frame-up on Jimmy.” She throws the note in a trash basket. Cecil comes on and embraces the lady as the curtain comes down. The man retrieves the note and hands it to Watson as he comes in. Violet watches him read the note and sees him leave for the meeting with Powell. She hopes to detain him to save Jimmy. She gets some incense and changes clothes.

            Violet sees Watson get in a car and walks into the driveway and is hit as he is backing out. He picks her up and takes her in the house. She sees him get a drink for her, and he tries to revive her by shaking her. He goes to the bathroom and gets smelling-salts. She takes out the incense and lays down. He comes back, and she says she is dizzy. She pleads with him, and he stands up to call a doctor. She tells him it could be love, but he keeps talking on the phone. She pretends to faint, and he carries her to the couch. She sits up and speaks as pearls slide inside her dress. She is sure it is love and pushes him onto the floor. He gets up, and she holds on to his foot. They both fall. Her buttocks is stuck in a pot, and she breaks the pot. They grapple on the floor and stand up. She pulls his hand and holds his sleeve around her. His coat comes off, and he goes back to the phone. She puts his coat over his head and takes the phone away, saying he won’t pay the money. She hangs up and hands him the phone. She believes her lover is saved. He realizes the phone is disconnected.

            Prescott in a phone booth tells the father of Jimmy’s girl-friend that Jimmy can verify his story at the station. The girl-friend leaves the house and goes to the station. There she tells Jimmy that she always believed in him. Violet comes back to the show car and looks for Jimmy. She sees him with his girl-friend and goes back in the car. She picks up the villain’s coat and starts to repair it. Outside Jimmy tells his girl-friend that he is going to stay there. He goes in the car, and Violet mentions the trouble at the bank. He says he has evidence to clear that up. He packs his bags and says he is going to do well in the banking business. He says she will be a great actress. They shake hands, and before going out he hopes she will get to play the vampire someday.

            This comedy features the talented stage actress Beatrice Lillie and satirizes traveling repertory companies playing melodramas in small towns.

Copyright © 2012 by Sanderson Beck

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