Sunday, September 24, 2023

The NFR Project: 'Ella Cinders'


Ella Cinders

Dir: Alfred E. Green

Scr: Frank Griffin and Mervyn LeRoy, story; George Marion Jr., titles

Pho: Arthus Martinelli

Ed: Robert Kern

Premiere: June 6, 1926

75 min.

Ella Cinders was a syndicated cartoon that was launched in 1925. It began as a modernized version of the story of Cinderella, but later expanded into the continuing adventures of its title character.

Ella’s look could easily have been taken from Colleen Moore, who was already a movie star when the cartoon debuted. It is singularly appropriate then that Moore portrays Ella in this screen adventure. Pert, coy, with large expressive eyes and a banged, bobbed hairdo, Moore was a renowned incarnation of the flapper, the good-time girl of the period.

The film was produced by Moore’s husband, John McCormick, and released by First National Pictures. Ella is the put-upon domestic slave of her evil step-family, the Pills. When word of a contest comes to town, promising a trip to Hollywood and a film role for a lucky winner, Ella determines to enter. She submits her photo, unwittingly one with her eyes crossed. Surprisingly, the judging committee selects her as the winner due to her comic facility. She goes to Hollywood, but finds that the contest was a sham. She is determined to literally break into the studio, and after a few misadventures, she finds herself with a career in show business. In the meantime, it turns out that her iceman boyfriend back home is actually a rich young football hero; he seeks her out and weds her.

Moore’s winsome charm and spunky attitude drive the film. She shines as the symbol of a more carefree time.

The NFR is one writer’s attempt to review all the films listed in the National Film Registry in chronological order. Next time: Hands Up!.

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