Film Review and Rating / Synopsis

(Please note the films reviewed on this site contain plot summaries and may contain SPOILERS.)
  • Captain January (1924) - Plot Summary - Sentimental tale starring Baby Peggy as a little girl being raised by an old lighthouse keeper who found her as a baby, washed ashore from a shipwreck. On a lonely island near a fishing village on the rugged coast of Maine, a "grizzled old veteran of the seas" (as described via title card), Jeremiah Judkins (Hobart Bosworth) is both mother and father to the little orphan he has nicknamed "Captain January" - and she's the light of his life. These two have formed a close bond over the last five years and they have plans to one day "sail the Seven Seas" together. Jeremiah has constant worries that someone will come and take her from him, so only allows one regular visitor, a pal of his, to visit their island. But that sure doesn't stop them from having fun together as he keeps her hair trimmed using a bowl on top of her head (!!), teaches her from 3 books: "Shakespeare for the mind, the Bible for the soul - the dictionary to settle disputes", and lets her keep a menagerie of pets including a dog, pelican, and cow (hmm - there's even a parrot about to be mixed into this clan until the bird is revealed to have a dirty mouth!). She's also his little helper as she assists him in running the lighthouse and has a side business of trapping and selling lobsters. The girl seems to be living a rather idyllic, happy life - but that doesn't stop the busybodies from the nearby town who think she isn't being raised properly and want to take her away from her "daddy". Jeremiah has heart trouble and one night sleeps through his watch and fails to run the light, and a yacht ends up running aground on their shore. An old enemy of his, a mean, bitter man named Maxwell, sees this as an opportunity to take Jeremiah's beloved Little Captain away from him - and has the nerve to show up on the island to snatch her, accompanied by several sour ladies from the orphanage! But oddly enough, the couple who own the yacht end up being relatives to the little girl and want to take her home to Boston to live with them, which breaks poor Jeremiah's heart - will the child he has raised and loved be taken away from him for good?

    Review - This is a charming silent film, the relationship between the old man and child is both sentimental and touching - you can see a real warmth that seems to exist between the two characters (and I would guess in real life as well). Baby Peggy (Peggy Montgomery, now known as Diana Serra Cary) was one of the first big child stars of film - an adorable little girl with very dark almond-shaped eyes and a Buster Brown style bob, her personality pops with charm. Actor Hobart Bosworth gives a very strong and realistic performance in this film. The film was screened on Turner Classic Movies channel and featured a (mostly) really nice looking print. I thought the music score that accompanied this film, done by Donald Sosin, was perfection. It really helped bring out the sentimentality and stir up the emotions of the story, enhancing an already really good film. Rating - * 9 to 9.5/10 stars *

    Director: Edward F. Cline
    Film Genre: Melodrama
    Film Runtime: 64 minutes

Links / Resources

film review Captain January 1924


10 = Absolutely Fabulous/Superb
9 = Really Good/Excellent
8 = Good
7 = Fairly Good/Decent
6 = So-so, some flaws
5 = Mediocre
4 = Not that good, many flaws
3 = Poor
2 = Very Poor/Stinker
1 = One of the worst BOMBS ever filmed

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