By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette
Texas in Film is a Navarro County Gazette series focusing on Texas-based actors, directors, and producers, as well as movies that are based or filmed in The Lone Star State.
At the beginning of 2021, I wrote about the life and career of Jacqueline Medura Logan, the silent screen actress born in Corsicana. I confess in writing the original article, I had not seen any of her films. I recently decided to remedy that before year’s end.
The film I chose is called The Look Out Girl, a gangster drama film from 1928 directed by Dallas M. Fitzgerald, a silent film director until 1933 with his final film, Mazie and death in 1940.
Released on Nov. 1 1928, The Look Out Girl is a very straightforward silent film with Logan as the lead. She plays the character of “Dixie Mowbray,” the titular lookout girl, who injures herself during her gang’s most recent heist. She is discovered and saved by a doctor (Ian Richardson), who cares for her and nurses her back to health. The two legitimately fall in love; enough so that Dixie wants to give up her criminal past and live an honest life.
However, the former gang girl finds burying those past connections is a difficult secret to conceal.
True to its era, The Look Out Girl is a pure morality play, the film exploring the question of whether a mistake truly defines a person, or can true redemption be found? Most films of the time are fairly cut and dry: Those who fail to take the righteous path are often harshly and swiftly punished. Being a film before the restrictive and prohibitive Hayes Code era, The Lookout Girl allows some nuanced room for examining the “Is it possible” aspect without resorting to tiresome tropes or stereotypes.
Logan’s performance is charismatic and her onscreen presence beautiful, though not hinting at her later career success as a screenwriter and director in following years. The performances aren’t quite as broadly gestured as some silent films, which allows the actors to bring in more subdued and realistic performances.
In my viewing, the film’s two most critical flaws were the lack of a musical score for the version I saw (online), and the film’s intertitles were often too infrequent for my tastes. There were fully gestured moments of conversation that, while possible to reasonably infer the conversation had, became guess work, and I would have liked to have “heard” more from the discussions.
While The Lookout Girl is not filmed or set within Texas, the local ties of the lead actress made her a worthy candidate for inclusion of this feature. As a film, it’s enjoyable with an interesting story to showcases Logan’s talent. While a “lost” film, it is easy to find online, and a notable entry of a “surviving” film of the era. I could not find any evidence of the movie having entered the public domain, though given its age and lack of clarity of who “owns” the distribution rights, it’s entirely possible.
With Corsicana currently celebrating its 175th anniversary, perhaps Logan’s filmography can be reintroduced to the local public as part of the ongoing festivities.
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