Saturday, April 18, 2015

Female Comic Strip Character Movie No. 8: ELLA CINDERS

I had not planned to review this film because I thought I couldn't find a copy and it is a silent movie from 1926 of a comic strip that disappeared before most of this blog's target audience was born. However, this film is only an hour long and fun to watch. In 2013, this film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

An Ella Cinders comic book

Ella Cinders was a comic strip that started in 1925 by Charles Plumb and Bill Conselman. It was one of many of the flapper-continuity comic strips boom of the 20s, such as Blondie. She also has something in common with Valentina in that she was drawn to look like actress Louise Brooks (although you can't tell it).

Ella began as a comical, modern version of Cinderella (Ella Cinder - Cinderella, get it?). Eventually, it used comedy only in the Sunday funnies and became a more adventure oriented storyline having to do with Ella's life as a movie star in the daily comics. At its peak, there were comic books, Big Little Books and an Ella Cinders doll (above) that were popular among kids. The comic strip was discontinued in 1961. 

Colleen Moore

The movie stars Colleen Moore (above) as Ella Cinders. Moore was probably in films because she bore a resemblance to Louise Brooks. In this movie, Moore is extremely cute and funny. One of her best moments is when she practices "acting with her eyes." (above gif)

Click to enlarge

Much of the early comic strip revolved around Ella trying to escape from her evil step-mother and her ugly step-sisters. She is in love with an ice delivery man name Waite Lifter (It was common in the comic strip characters of that era to have bad puns for names).

Ella enters a contest to win a movie contract and a trip to Hollywood. The contest turns out to be a scam, but determined she sneaks into the movie studio. She wanders into several movies, including a film staring comedian Harry Langdon. This would be the equivalent today of bumping into Will Ferrell, while he is making a movie.

I'll stop here, because I don't want to give away the ending. I will point out that through out the original comic strip, Ella shared her adventures with her little brother, (wait for it) Blackie Cinders. He is not in the movie version, which is okay, because he would add nothing to the movie. Also, in the original comic strip storyline, Ella gets to Hollywood and finds the movie studio out of business. She spends several weeks trying to get an acting job.

Ella Cinders is a pleasant and enjoyable surprise. It can be found on YouTube for free. 

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