There is a defining contradiction at the center of Mr. Fix-It, the buoyant 1918 Douglas Fairbanks comedy directed and written by Allan Dwan, their sixth or seventh feature together (they made four films together in 1918 alone).
Fairbanks’ Dick Remington is ostensibly a British student at Oxford and roommate to American Reginald Burroughs (Leslie Stuart). Yet Burroughs, with his regal bearing and trim dress and mannered courtship of his college sweetheart, is the very image of a British aristocrat while the bouncing, eternally smiling Remington is the quintessential Fairbanks character: Boisterous, fun-loving and eccentric (he somersaults fully clothed into his bathtub as a lark in the opening scenes), he is unmistakably the can-do American, no matter what the intertitles tell us.
Which is why he is the perfect person to take Reginald’s place when he’s ordered back home for an arranged marriage and “fix it” for Reginald and everyone else he meets along the way. Before you know it, that list includes Reginald’s sister (similarly trapped in an arranged marriage), fiancé (who is sweet another man) and status-conscious uncle and aunts, not to mention a pretty young newly orphaned woman, Mary (Wanda Hawley), desperately trying to care for her five brothers and sisters in the slums. Remington (as Reginald) simply whisks them all away to “his” mansion and has the little tykes soften up the stiff aristocrats while he falls for their sister.
Read More “SFSFF 2011: A Yank at Oxford – Douglas Fairbanks is “Mr. Fix-It””