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Film / Linda (1929)

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Linda is a 1929 film directed by Dorothy Davenport.

Linda Stillwater is a young woman growing up in backwoods California logging country. Her father Stillwater is an ogreish brute, and her mother is beaten down by life, as well as by said ogreish brute. The only bright spot in Linda's life is Annette Whitmore, a do-gooder rich lady who travels to the backwoods to teach the children, and has taken an interest in Linda.

Linda is instantly besotted with Dr. Paul Randall (Warner Baxter), whom she meets when he visits the country to see his own timber. However, her father, who is a scumbag, has promised her to Decker the mill supervisor. Linda eventually gets married to Decker, who, surprisingly, is a tender and affectionate husband. But Linda's heart still belongs to Dr. Randall.

Davenport is credited as "Mrs. Wallace Reid", six years after her husband Wallace Reid died of opium addiction. Linda is a silent film, one of the last silent features made before Hollywood converted to talkies.

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Tropes:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Decker, whom Linda initially refuses to marry as he's old enough to be her father. She eventually goes through with it, and she grows to respect him as he's tender and affectionate with her, but she never loves him.
  • Better as Friends: "I just can't love you that way," says Linda to Kenneth Whitmore, and a disappointed Kenneth leaves the movie.
  • Dances and Balls: A fancy dress ball at the Whitmore mansion is where Linda tells Kenneth Whitmore she can never love him.
  • Discreet Drink Disposal: Decker pours his medicine out into a plant on the windowsill, because he's decided I Want My Beloved to Be Happy and he's willing to die to free Linda to be with Dr. Randall.
  • Dramatic Drop: Linda drops the cup of coffee when she realizes that her husband has died overnight.
  • Driven to Suicide: A seriously injured Decker stops taking his medicine, and dies, so Linda will be free to marry Randall.
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  • Establishing Character Moment: Linda is reading in the branches of a tree when she sees a little baby bird that has fallen out of its nest. She helps the baby bird back into the nest.
  • Funetik Aksent: Used throughout to reflect the uneducated speech of the California mountain people in title cards. ("You" is always rendered "yer".)
  • Housewife: A particularly tragic example, as Linda's mother ("Nan") is an exhausted, beaten-down shell, tired and drawn after who knows how many years as the more or less slave to the monstrous Stillwater. At one point in the film she vows that Stillwater won't ruin Linda's life the way he ruined hers.
  • Idiot Ball: The supposed first Mrs. Decker should have thought better of her plan to pass off her child as Decker's, since he hasn't seen her in six years and the child can't be more than four.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Decker has been seriously injured when a massive log fell on him. He has realized that Linda loves someone else (Dr. Randall). So he pours out his medicine, and dies.
  • Let the Past Burn: A rather unusual positive example. Linda wants to send the little cabin that Decker loved so much up to him in heaven. So she burns it down, as the film ends.
  • One Head Taller: Both Stillwater and Decker are a full head taller than tiny Linda, as is underscored in a scene where they press her to marry Decker while she cowers between them.
  • A Taste of the Lash: At a particularly psychopathic moment, Stillwater starts whipping Linda when she refuses to marry Decker, and his wife when she backs Linda up. This actually is why Linda marries Decker: to have someone to protect her.
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