The Barker is a 1928 part-talkie pre-code romantic drama film produced and released by First National Pictures, a subsidiary of Warner Bros., acquired in September 1928. The film was directed by George Fitzmaurice and stars Milton Sills, Dorothy Mackaill, Betty Compson, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr..
The film is based on the Broadway play of the same name which opened at the Biltmore Theatre January 18, 1927 and ran until July 1927 for 221 performances. In the stage production Walter Huston was "Nifty" and a still relatively unknown Claudette Colbert was "Lou", played in the film by Dorothy Mackaill.
The film was adapted by Benjamin Glazer, Joseph Jackson and Herman J. Mankiewicz from the play by Kenyon Nicholson. The Barker is a part-talkie with talking sequences and sequences with synchronized musical scoring and sound effects.
The film tells the story of a woman (Dorothy Mackaill) who comes between a man (Milton Sills) and his estranged son (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.). Sills is a carnival barker who is in love with a dancing girl and is ambitious to have his son, Fairbanks, become a lawyer. Fairbanks has other ideas and during his vacation he hops a freight, joins the carnival, and weds a dancing girl (Mackaill). Eventually, Fairbanks fulfills the ambition his father had for him.
The film survives intact with its talking sequences and has been preserved by the UCLA Film and Television Archive and manufactured-on-demand DVD by the Warner Archive Collection.
The Barker was remade as Hoop-La (1933) with Clara Bow and as Diamond Horseshoe (1945) with Betty Grable. Japanese director Yasujirō Ozu remade this film in A Story of Floating Weeds (1934) and again in Floating Weeds (1959).