We don't need critics—We need cine-metaphysicians.
Is it enough to explore the verbal stylings of Depression-era character actor Warren Hymer? No. We demand to learn what Mr. Hymer’s screen presence means!
Today’s Depression Lesson is that mugs like him are living then, now and forever in the forces just without.
Hymer is gliding on a nimbus, minus mazoola. His ostensible nescience is in fact numinous horse sense. We could easily (and wrongly) claim this actor is generic, but therein lays the point: enormous personal magnetism goes into playing the dime-a-dozen patsy or knuckle-headed ghee.
To enumerate: Warren Hymer's two chief facial expressions are—
(1) A dopey smile in which the smile arcs up in a perfect inverted rainbow of dumb glee; and (2) its obverse, in which the exact same rainbow reverses itself into a slightly more intelligent scowl—“more intelligent” because it doesn't pretend to understand what's going on. It just knows there’s a Big Problem.
Where are the mook taxonomists when we need them?
After all, Hymer floats free from those capricious details, i.e., script, plot and “character development.” I am not equal to the task of capturing his portrait.
But I add: saying Warren Hymer is merely “cartoonish” stops our ontological forensics criminally short. Synchronized sound, a technology coinciding with Hymer's entrance onto the silver screen, demands the “nuance” only vaudeville broadness can deliver, shades of popular opinion bodied forth by automatic characters. Think of Ned Sparks’ reflexive sarcasm on a Mobius strip.
Hymer’s shadow is teetering on one heel and maintaining balance just barely writing love notes and in a ditch laughing backwards.
Special thanks to David Cairns