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The silent drama West Point (1928), in a new digital transfer with a new score by David Davidson, stars William Haines as a wise-guy cadet and Joan Crawford as his girlfriend. In the course of the film, Haines' arrogance causes the West Point football team to lose an important game. After a much-needed dose of humility, he is allowed to return to the playing field in an even more crucial game against the Navy team.
Shot on location at West Point, the movie teamed Haines with his favorite director, Edward Sedgwick, and became another in a series of hits for the breezy young actor. Among other Sedgwick films in which Haines appeared were Spring Fever (1927, also with Crawford), Slide, Kelly, Slide (1927) and Free and Easy (1930). Although now largely forgotten, Haines (1900-1973) could be called the Tom Cruise of his day, delighting audiences with his ongoing role as a smart aleck who learns the value of teamwork, usually with the aid of a loyal girlfriend. By the beginning of the talkie era Haines was regularly named the movies' No. 1 male box office draw. He and Crawford, who became fast friends, appeared together in several other films including Sally, Irene and Mary (1925), A Slave of Fashion (1925) and The Duke Steps Out (1929).
The ever-youthful Haines continued to be cast as a college boy as he entered his 30s. Homosexual and remarkably open about it, Haines had his career cut short in the early 1930s after allegedly refusing MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer's orders to give up his relationship with his romantic partner, Jimmie Shields. Haines and Shields would remain lovers for 50 years and were dubbed by Crawford as "the happiest married couple in Hollywood." After his acting career was terminated Haines achieved great success as an interior designer, designing projects for Crawford, studio head Jack Warner and Bloomingdales. He also had a reputation as a great entertainer among Hollywood's upper-crust gay set, which included Clifton Webb and George Cukor.
Director: Edward Sedgwick
Screenplay: Joseph Farnham (titles), Raymond L. Schrock (also story)
Cinematography: Ira H. Morgan
Editing: Frank Sullivan
Costume Design: Gilbert Clark
Principal Cast: William Haines (Brice Wayne), Joan Crawford (Betty Channing), William Bakewell ("Tex" McNeil), Neil Neely (Bob Sperry), Ralph Emerson (Bob Chase).
By Roger Fristoe