Bookworms (1920)

BOOKWORMS

Director: Adrian Brunel
Writer: A.A. Milne
Starring: Leslie Howard, Pauline Johnson and Henrietta Watson
Production: Minerva Films
October 1920

Silent
Black and White
25′

Cast:
Leslie Howard: Richard
Pauline Johnson: Miranda
Henrietta Watson: Aunt Priscilla
Jeff Barlow: Uncle Josiah
Ivan Berlyn : Ernest
Mrs. R. Podevin : The Dragon

Richard falls in love with the neighborhood girl, Miranda, but her aunt and uncle are trapped in a dried-out marriage: to keep Miranda from making the same mistakes they made, she isn’t allowed to become acquainted with any men. Miranda is trapped inside the monotonous life. Richard tries several strategies to save Miranda from her relatives.

Adrian Brunel in his book Nice Work: The Story of Thirty Years in British Film Production (1949) says about Bookworms:

“£5 Reward” was written specially for Leslie, and opposite him we had Barbara Hoffe, in a light comedy of love on the farm. “Bookworms” was also written for Leslie. It was the story of a young woman (Pauline Johnston), guarded by a dragon (Mrs. Podevin), and courted at a distance by the resourceful Leslie. In the first, Leslie’s performance was romantic more than comic; in the second, he had more of the scope he was looking for, including a disguise with a comic moustache. […]
“Twice Two” was not quite finished in time for our trade show, which was held at the West End Cinema (now the Rialto) in Coventry Street. The theatre was packed from floor to ceiling, filled with celebrities of many kinds, including critics, writers, politicians, actors and actresses. Those members of the film trade present, I thought, looked sour and cynical. In fact, the whole atmosphere seemed somewhat suspicious, and I felt that however confident I might have been in regard to the ordinary people’s reaction to the brand of humour we were offering, this particular audience would be merciless at the first opening for a laugh in the wrong place.
We started off with “Book worms”. Very soon the audience was chuckling and before long they were laughing heartily. When it was over the applause was tremendous and went on and on and on– there was real gratitude in it.

Seen at the 17th Pordenone Silent Film Festival (1998) with other Minerva films.
Watch a clip

Bookworms

Bookworms

Leslie Howard in Bookworms

Leslie Howard in Bookworms

Leslie Howard in Bookworms

Pauline Johnson and Leslie Howard in Bookworms

Leslie Howard in Bookworms

Leslie Howard in Bookworms

Leslie Howard and Pauline Johnson in Bookworms

Leslie Howard and Pauline Johnson in Bookworms

Leslie Howard in Bookworms

Leslie Howard in Bookworms

Leslie Howard in Bookworms

Leslie Howard and Jeff Barlow in Bookworms