Cinefest 2012 MR. FIX-IT (Douglas Fairbanks Picture Corp. – Famous Players-Lasky Corp. 1918)
Directed by Allan Dwan. With: Douglas Fairbanks (Mr. Fix-It), Wanda Hawley (Mary McCollough), Marjorie Daw (Marjorie Threadwell), Leslie Stuart (Reginald Burroughs), Ida Waterman (Aunt Augusta Burroughs), Alice Smith (Aunt Priscilla Burroughs), Mrs. H.R. Hancock (Aunt Laura Burroughs), Frank Campeau (Uncle Henry Burroughs), Mr. Russell (Butler Jarvis), Fred Goodwins (Gideon Van Tassell), Margaret Landis (Olive Van Tassell), Katherine MacDonald (Georgiana Burroughs).
With an original story by Ernest Butterworth and a scenario by director Allan Dwan, MR. FIX-IT, a Douglas Fairbanks “personality picture” recently preserved by George Eastman House, should be a delight. Oxford scholar Reggie Burroughs, after a 15-year absence, is informed by his New York City spinster aunts that he must return to look after his property in the USA. Reggie is reluctant to leave his sweetheart so he sends his roommate, Mr. Fix-It, to take his place as head of the Burroughs family. In New York the Aunts try to coerce Mr. Fix-It (whom they believe to be their nephew) into an arranged marriage, along with another arranged marriage they have planned for Reggie’s sister. As both ladies are in love with other men, Mr. Fix-It assists them with their nuptials and achieving their hearts desire. Along the way he discovers his own happiness, in the form of Mary McCollough, a girl with a very long attachment of siblings that he transfers over to the Aunts mansion and thereby softening the old women’s hearts.
The restored film was heralded as “a great find” when it was screened at the 2011 San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Based upon the only known extant print which belonged to Roberto Pallme and was willed to the George Eastman House in 1998, MR FIX-IT had only Italian language inter-titles. With the lack of any surviving set of English dialog or title-cards, it meant for very careful translation to recreate the timber of the American idiomatic English and restore the missing script. As a result, we will have the opportunity once again view the bouncing and eternally smiling Mr. Fairbanks as he upsets the decorum of a stuffy family with his unique brand of fun-loving exuberance.