Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Like Prohibition, Franklin-Blank Productions' The Villain Still Pursued Her is best regarded as a "noble experiment". Using the hoary old stage melodrama The Drunkard: or, the Fallen Saved as its inspiration, the film is a contemptous send-up of all such Victorian mellers, its "serious" moments deliberately and broadly played for laughs. The tone is set at the beginning of the film, with master of ceremonies Billy Gilbert exhorting the audience to "applaud the noble characters and hiss the villain" (at some showings, it was the other way around). Richard Cromwell plays Edward, a stalwart young man who succumbs to the temptations of Demon Rum through the evil machinations of top-hatted villain Squire Cribbs (Alan Mowbray). It is Cribbs' desire to have heroine Mary (Anita Louise), Edward's long-suffering spouse, in his clutches, but the villain is (curses!) foiled by "philanthropist-reformer" Healy (Hugh Herbert). No opportunity to wring laughs from the audience is overlooked; there's even a pie-throwing sequence, which figured not at all into the original play. The result is more silly than funny, with everyone trying way too hard. Still, there are some prize moments, many of them provided by Buster Keaton in the sizeable role of the hero's best friend; whenever Keaton pauses to deliver an aside to the audience, he must first wait patiently while several disinterested passers-by parade before the camera. Best bit: the "love at first sight" meeting between hero Cromwell and heroine Louise, beginning with intercut long shots of the couple and ending with tight, bloodshot closeups of the actors' eyes! A flop when first released, The Villain Still Pursued Her has since found its audience on the public domain video circuit.
alcoholism, hero, husband-and-wife, nobility, sinister, temptation, villain