What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
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Big Silent Fan

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Nov 19, 2017 11:50 am

boblipton wrote:Anyone who looks at The Devil (1921) expecting a typically sly, witty -- albeit voiceless -- performance by George Arliss will be disappointed.


Perhaps not everyone will be disappointed...I certainly enjoyed the film, enough to view it more than twice and even copy down some of the cleverly worded titles. I've long been a fan of George Arless from his portrayal of Disraeli and other films. Watching, it was clear to me he was a master of the pantomime. He truly was the devil in this film.
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earlytalkiebuffRob

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Nov 19, 2017 2:09 pm

Jim Roots wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:If one was to read an outline of the plot of ROARING RAILS (1924) it would seem to have all the cliches in the book. In a way it does, but the film, recently restored, is a real winner in most respects, although one has to suspend disbelief a couple of times and is handsomely shot by Sol Polito.

Harry Carey plays 'Big Bill' Benson, a doughboy who brings orphan Frankie Darro back to the States after his mother is killed. A railroad engineer in peacetime, he loses his job when his train crashes after he has saved his boy from being killed. How neither her nor the kid aren't killed is one of the unsolved mysteries here. On the tramp with the lad, he becomes friendly with a local lass who serves behind the counter of an 'eats' establishment after the boy smuggles out some grub for him. He also falls foul of the foreman of another railroad, who is a bully of the worst sort. Gaining a job on the railroad, there is constant conflict with this oaf who is in cahoots with the son of the company owner (who uses his real name - rather foolish) who sacked Bill in the first place. Both will stick at literally nothing to get their greasy hands on the blood money involved as the foreman is also a traitor to his employer.

As I mentioned earlier, there are some unconvincing plot twists to the movie as well as a heap of fairly hoary elements. However, there is enough going on here to stuff a much longer film, and the entertainment is very well paced and with a thrilling last act. I used the word 'kid' earlier as there are echoes of Chaplin's film, but as a full-blooded drama it is well worth watching. Oh, and (SPOILERS), Darro is in danger of losing his sight after a spot of sabotage, and Carey is in danger of hanging after taking the blame for murder in exchange for a promise of money to give the boy an operation...


How long is the film? Or rather, its surviving elements?

Just curious. That is a lot of action to pack into, say, a two-reeler.

Jim


According to the time listed, ROARING RAILS runs 67m 34s. There is at least some missing footage towards the end, which is filled in with a resume of what happens. Watching it, one wonders how so much can be packed into such little time, which is the opposite case to some of the more recent films.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Nov 19, 2017 2:30 pm

Dinty (1920) on YT thanks to Jorge F. I was able to work the English subs in this Dutch print ... and a very good print it is. Film was created and directed by Marshall Neilan for Wesley Barry, the freckle-faced boy star of the day.

This film has everything: Immigrants, an orphan, a kidnapping, a drug smuggler, and even a pendulum torture instrument. The supporting players boast Colleen Moore and Anna May Wong as well as Noah Beery. Location shooting in San Francisco is excellent, and the finale may have been shot on Catalina.

Rather than a plot, I'd say the film is more like a series of vignettes which, at times, seems to have little connection to the rest of the film, but it all comes together in the end.

Thanks to the Dutch, this film has survived. I believe all Americans prints are lost. While the translation is clunky (too literal), it's adequate, unless you're up on your Dutch.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon Nov 20, 2017 1:32 pm

Although there was no director credit on STAND AND DELIVER (1928), it was seemingly directed by Donald Crisp, who seemed to do a few jobs about this time, which seems odd considering his fine talkie voice. This one has ex-soldier and misogynist Rod la Rocque, bored with peacetime London, shooting off to a mythical country to help sort out their bandit problem. Out there, he rescues Lupe Velez from a fiery death, kills his commanding officer in a fight and ends up with bandit Warner Oland, who is a very treacherous customer indeed.

STAND AND DELIVER starts off quite entertainingly, but unfortunately gets rather bogged down (as did Crisp's DON Q) after a while. There's some nice business with the makeshift elevator at Oland's fortress, but even at just under the hour theis synchronised silent leaves a lot to be desired.

More watchable, but still rather silly, UNSEEN FORCES (1920) gives the impression of being a sort of real-life case history, which its credits run counter to. Sylvia Breane plays Miriam Holt, born during a thunderstorm and supposedly given wonderful powers despite her mother's dying at her birth. She grows up with the power to predict certain things at her Dad's duck-hunting lodge, and is attracted to childhood friend Clyde (Conrad Nagel) despite his adulthood love of blasting the poor beggars (one title refers to 'weeks of splendid shooting'!) out of the air. After a misapprehension, Nagel marries the Wrong Woman, who is a mercenary social climber with a secret past.

Nicely produced, but a bit confusing at one place due to decomposition and missing footage, UNSEEN FORCES has a fair dose of Christian twaddle to add to its Spiritualist content. From the beginning when the storm is seen to portent someone or something remarkable (as if storms were that uncommon) and Miriam's comment "God is always watching us." when asked if she is afraid of the dark come over as absurd in the context of some of the other occurrences in the film. Another rescue story from the New Zealand Film Archive.
Last edited by earlytalkiebuffRob on Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon Nov 20, 2017 6:10 pm

I discovered a William S. Hart film today, not a western but a story where he played a single parent in urban America.
In The Whistle (1921) both Hart and his son are working in one of the industrial mills with all those exposed drive belts connected to a central shaft above.
It's a typical workers verses management story, where safety wasn't as important as making a profit was. That's where the similarities end and the unique story unfolds. The print I saw was just under an hour but IMDB says the film was originally 70 minutes. Perhaps the complete ending was missing but the story was complete. It's interesting to see Bill Hart where he's riding a horse or on a riverboat.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue Nov 21, 2017 2:47 pm

The recent upload (mute) of Allan Dwan's THE HALF-BREED (1916) shows the difference between watching copies of middling quality or worse and those which come over as pristine. Douglas Fairbanks plays the son of an Indian (American, that is) woman and a white man who has betrayed her. Being sheltered by a kindly hermit, the poor woman kills herself leaving her baby as the old fellow's adopted son. When the hermit dies, the grown-up Fairbanks is thrown out of his home, and the old man's possessions either vandalised or stolen.

Living in the woods, he is drawn to visit the local town, one whose inhabitants have soiled the name of 'Civilisation'. The local preacher is a genial humbug (refusing to donate to a desperately sick woman's collection because she wasn't in his congregation) and some of the other 'leading lights' are a pretty rubbishy lot, including the sheriff, who happens to be...

The parson's daughter is a pretty, but flighty woman and becomes attracted to Fairbanks, as does the fiery-tempered Teresa, a medicine-man's assistant, played sensitively and sympathetically by Alma Rubens.

THE HALF-BREED contains a good number of interesting themes, although perhaps the 'clean countryside vs the dirty, wicked town' is overdone a little. Fairbanks also has little time for his fellow Indians who allow themselves to be ridiculed by the white man, and the themes of racial prejudice (the parson again) are well presented. What is even more striking is the superb visual quality of much of the film (an amalgam of at least three copies) which seems to indicate that deep focus was alive and well before Gregg Toland and Renoir. There is also a sexual frankness which is quite surprising. At times reminiscent of Walsh's THE BIG TRAIL, this is a most extraordinary film visually, and one wonders how things would have fared if cameraman Victor Fleming had stayed in this role. A moving and very striking film indeed.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostWed Nov 22, 2017 1:55 pm

Despite perhaps being too pretty for the World-weary title role, Blanche Sweet is effective in 1923's ANNA CHRISTIE, which compares favourably with the famous 1930 movie, which I must admit to finding heavy-going on my last viewing. It was interesting, too, to read that Eugene O'Neill himself preferred this version, which differs quite a bit in what is shown (Anna's childhood and teenage abuse) and what isn't (the fairground scene). Not having read the play, I don't know whether or not these scenes are additions or not.

Despite being a silent, the drama of a shiftless, alcoholic sailor (George Marion) finding his long unseen daughter has become a prostitute and her shame when she finds a stoker (William Russell) has fallen bad for her is effectively done although Russell's initial rejection of Sweet when he hears the truth is perhaps rather overdone. Worth watching.

#The director John Griffith Wray is apparently not the same fellow as the actor John Wray (Himmelstoss in ALL QUIET) even though (confusingly) both had the middle name Griffith. According to Ephraim Katz they were one and the same and he was puzzled at the change of career! It would seem that John Griffith Wray did not direct any films after 1929 as he died in that year!
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostThu Nov 23, 2017 7:47 am

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Worth watching.


It certainly was! Having watched both Garbo talkies (German & English) several times, I think this earlier version is now my favorite.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostThu Nov 23, 2017 12:31 pm

Big Silent Fan wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Worth watching.


It certainly was! Having watched both Garbo talkies (German & English) several times, I think this earlier version is now my favorite.


And I felt that George Marion was more effective in this version. Eugenie Besserer, though good, is not as effective as Marie Dressler in the role of Marthy, perhaps because she seems less raddled and addled, and if memory serve me right has fewer scenes than in the 1930 film.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostThu Nov 23, 2017 12:51 pm

The chance to watch a decent copy of LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN (1925) resulted in my watching two silent adaptations of famous plays two nights running. Ernst Lubitsch's film was famous for removing most, if not all of Oscar Wilde's dialogue in order to make a film of it, and in this case it seems a sensible decision as the satire of polite London society still comes off well.

Although we only know them my titles and not Christian names (for one is certain they were all baptised at birth), we are introduced to Lady Windermere (May McAvoy) and Lord Darlington (Ronald Colman) who is hopelessly in love with her. Meanwhile the husband has had a letter from a mysterious Mrs Erlynne, who (Irene Rich, who doesn't look old enough) who is Lady W's long-unseen mother. To save the family name, the rather stuffy Lord W (Bert Lytell) keeps shovelling money her way...

The lack of spoken dialogue here does not seem a major handicap, and indeed there are not too many titles at all (aside from those owned by the characters). Much of the film is told in purely visual terms, (the birthday party near the end is most effective here) and the film is barbed and amusing in its look at the unhappy rich and their double standards. Although she takes the money (being up to her neck in bills), Mrs Erlynne comes over as one of the more sympathetic characters in the film, despite her hopes of marrying into the aristocracy and her love of expensive trinkets. One can quite see how she would have been a temptation for men without scruples. Some years ago I watched an earlier British adaptation directed by Fred Paul, from 1916, which (perhaps due to poor condition and it being mute) was extremely difficult to sit through perhaps through being more 'faithful' to the source material.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostThu Nov 23, 2017 12:53 pm

Rick Lanham wrote:In another thread it was mentioned that Lady Windermere's Fan (1925) is on the More Treasures from American Film Archives box set. I realized that I had not seen it, even though I had bothered to download another copy from YouTube or somewhere.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, May McAvoy's a charmer, Irene Rich was very effective. Poor Ronald Colman didn't have a lot to do, but to look handsome and charming. At least he does that easily.

Oh, and that copy I downloaded? Not nearly the quality of what's in the box set.

Rick


There is an upload of LADY W on YT which is far superior to that which I downloaded some time back...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostThu Nov 23, 2017 4:03 pm

The Eye just posted on youTube a fun Kalem short with a crazy plot, probably shot by their Florida unit-- The Mystery of the Sleeping Death (1914), directed by Kenean Buel and starring Tom Moore and Alice Joyce, at about the time of their real life marriage. The title are in Dutch but you can kind of figure out what is going on. Tom seems to be a rich young man, and Alice is in with a gang of burglars. When he confronts Alice during the burglary, they seem to feel some sort of instant affinity, and she leaves without the loot. Her annoyed cronies try to rob Tom outside the house when he suddenly faints. Alice runs for help, also faints, and they are brought to the hospital, where they begin speaking in a strange tongue. A guy in a turban is brought in and recognizes the language, and tells the doctors of the strange legend of his homeland, and we have a long flashback to some pan-south Asian place where Alice is a much sought after young woman who is in love with Tom, who appears to be a slave. Interesting to see a nickelodeon-era effort at such a large-scaled exotic setting, though things like large paper-mache elephant sculptures show the budget limitations. The whole thing doesn't really make much sense, but it is an interesting oddball film.

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostThu Nov 23, 2017 5:54 pm

The Phantom of the Range 1928

This one seriously needs music but am getting used to it without piano accompaniment.

Plus the Spanish intertitles get easier to understand over time. Still delightful, makes me wish I could see the rest of his surviving silent films in European archives.

Happy 3 year anniversary, Tom Tyler, you're the greatest. <3


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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Nov 24, 2017 12:19 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Christian twaddle


With respect, Rob, could you ramp down such comments - in the interest of respect?
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Nov 24, 2017 1:34 pm

wich2 wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Christian twaddle


With respect, Rob, could you ramp down such comments - in the interest of respect?


Will see how I can rephrase my sentiments without altering the meaning in future. Perhaps I should just have simply typed 'twaddle' instead. I do respect the rights of others to hold different views to mine (as I would hope others do to me), as opposed to respecting those actual views, faiths, etc. And my lack of respect spreads to other religions as well, so Christianity is not my only bugbear. In addition, I do have quite a few shelves of religious / spiritual books in my second-hand shop, but some of them can be very slow-moving indeed.*

Incidentally, have you watched the movie?

*Some of them (donated to me from a Christian bookshop) were so slow-moving in fact that I started poking them in an outside box at five or six for £1 with equal lack of success and they had to be re-donated!
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Nov 24, 2017 3:54 pm

People here can debate the sacred and the profane all you want among yourselves, but please, there is no need to derail a public thread about movies and create ill feelings here by getting into these matters at NitrateVille. Posting here is about what we share an interest in, not what we don't.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Nov 24, 2017 4:48 pm

PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC in the new restoration, with the Voices Of Light score. Remarkable in every way. It really packs a wallop, there's just nothing else like it. Its virtues are known and widely sung, and all I can do is go along with them all. This is one of those classics that really deserves the status.

I know little of the production of the film, but the new clarity in the image seemed to show some motion in the lighting on Joan's face, it looked like shadows were moving very subtly, as if someone was standing out of camera range doing something to the lighting. It's hard to describe, and it might be some strange by-product of the DCP, who knows. When I go back for another look I'll keep a sharper look out for it.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Nov 25, 2017 10:23 am

It's an amazing film, containing examples of some of the more terrific acting of the era.

Alas, it also stokes in The Wife a bit of the old eternal, "Men Are Such Jerks" feeling. (And I'd have to admit, the charge is fair in this case!)

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Nov 25, 2017 1:38 pm

A British film I'd not recalled hearing of, and directed by the prolific Thomas Bentley, was GENERAL POST, released in 1920. A short prologue, with children playing the title game, does not quite prepare one for the rest of the film, based on a contemporary play. Set in a fictitious community with an old-world family at the centre, it tells of the ructions which arise when the Aubrey Smith-type father realises that his daughter might be in love with his tailor - shades of LOVE ME TONIGHT!

The other thread of the plot concerns the formation (1912) of the Territorial Army, which for some odd reason Father disapproves of, perhaps because the organisation is more concerned with ability than class. A few reels later, War is declared, and the Territorials prove their worth, the tailor becoming a Colonel and a V.C. to boot.

Although not exactly absorbing, GENERAL POST is quite an interesting film of its type, with sufficient content on the subjects of class and snobbery to make it a good example of an adaptation of a presumably popular drama. One thing I did like about the film (a good copy, too) was the interesting method of masking the image in different ways for fade ins and outs. Whether this was Bentley's idea or the cameraman's, I can only guess, but it is a charming device.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Nov 26, 2017 7:54 am

Roscoe wrote:PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC in the new restoration, with the Voices Of Light score. Remarkable in every way. It really packs a wallop, there's just nothing else like it. Its virtues are known and widely sung, and all I can do is go along with them all. This is one of those classics that really deserves the status.

I know little of the production of the film, but the new clarity in the image seemed to show some motion in the lighting on Joan's face, it looked like shadows were moving very subtly, as if someone was standing out of camera range doing something to the lighting. It's hard to describe, and it might be some strange by-product of the DCP, who knows. When I go back for another look I'll keep a sharper look out for it.


Saw this version yesterday. I found the music intrusive, annoying. It kept saying: "This moment is important." It kept trying to tell me what to think. There was also a sense of "needle drop" as the music was written for different purposes.

Every time I've seen this film before, it was totally silent, which gave it more of a documentary feel.

The restoration looked very good. I can't tell for sure, but I think the shadow effects you mentioned were artifacts of the restoration process. I haven't seen Dreyer use that effect in any of his other movies, and I think he would have if it were intentional.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Nov 26, 2017 8:19 am

Daniel Eagan wrote:
Roscoe wrote:PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC...there's just nothing else like it. This is one of those classics that really deserves the status.


Saw this version yesterday. I found the music intrusive, annoying. It kept saying: "This moment is important." It kept trying to tell me what to think.
Every time I've seen this film before, it was totally silent, which gave it more of a documentary feel.
[quote]

It's been made clear at Nitrateville with all the "What's your favorite film" and "What's your least favorite film" postings that about half the members like this, while the majority find it annoying.

It is a favorite classic of mine too, with the music since I think it helps the visual story of Joan, who was a real life person and the story told is from actual papers in an archive. Dreyer put much effort into researching and then telling this story in such an unusual manner, especially since huge sets were built in anticipation yet never used.
Just like it is with the Russian film, "Earth," there is simply no other film quite like "The Passion of Joan of Arc." They are each in a class by themselves.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Nov 26, 2017 8:34 am

Big Silent Fan wrote:
It's been made clear at Nitrateville with all the "What's your favorite film" and "What's your least favorite film" postings that about half the members like this, while the majority find it annoying.


If "half" like it, there is no "majority". Halves are equal to each other.

Jim
(on the "like it" side)
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Nov 26, 2017 9:14 am

Jim Roots wrote:
Big Silent Fan wrote:
It's been made clear at Nitrateville with all the "What's your favorite film" and "What's your least favorite film" postings that about half the members like this, while the majority find it annoying.


If "half" like it, there is no "majority". Halves are equal to each other.

Jim
(on the "like it" side)


If only "about half" like it, while it may not be equal, if the ones who don't like it have posted most, perhaps there's actually a 'silent majority' since many don't bother posting on those 'favorites/least favorites' list.

Rich
(who always enjoys a glass of Cabernet while watching.)
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Nov 26, 2017 10:06 am

Big Silent Fan wrote:
Jim Roots wrote:
Big Silent Fan wrote:
It's been made clear at Nitrateville with all the "What's your favorite film" and "What's your least favorite film" postings that about half the members like this, while the majority find it annoying.


If "half" like it, there is no "majority". Halves are equal to each other.

Jim
(on the "like it" side)


If only "about half" like it, while it may not be equal, if the ones who don't like it have posted most, perhaps there's actually a 'silent majority' since many don't bother posting on those 'favorites/least favorites' list.

Rich
(who always enjoys a glass of Cabernet while watching.)


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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Nov 26, 2017 12:31 pm

Clara Bow again in THE PLASTIC AGE (1925), a college-set romantic comedy with lashings of American football, which is par for the course here. Donald Keith plays the athletic son of Henry B Walthall, off to college and hopefully to do his Dad proud. His roommate is played by Gilbert Roland a girl-crazy fellow obsessed by Cynthia (Clara Bow) and not too pleased when the lady takes a shine to Keith. The rest of the film is taken up with hi-jinks and preparation for the Big Match in the last term.

Bow is the main reason to see this film, which perhaps I saw too close to THE COLLEGE HERO, not realising it was another film set in Halls of Ivy. As seems the norm with this sub-genre, one has no idea what the fellows are supposed to be studying, and the plot seems far from original, to say the least. The surprise casting of Walthall as the ambitious father add to a few nice scenes in an otherwise rather ordinary film. Some of the characters seem similar to ones in the later film, and indeed at least one player (Churchill Ross) is the same. For me the music score worked in places only, adding to a feeling of disappointment. Looking up Keith on IMDb, I find that I've seen him a few times, often paired with Bow, but clearly he left little impression.

[it seems that Clark Gable and Janet Gaynor had uncredited bits, but I had forgotten about that.]
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Nov 26, 2017 2:59 pm

boblipton wrote:The third and final of the remnants of early features with Lon Chaney on the Before the Thousand Faces dvd, The Place Beyond the Winds (1916) is the best preserved of the three (only the first of five reels is missing) and the least satisfying. The synopsis offered on the IMDb is several hundred words in length; despite having read it three times, I can make neither heads nor tails of it. Neither does looking at it make things much better, since people seem to do things, often as not, to advance the plot speedily, rather than as expressions of their characters, Thus, two characters may move to the same place and work in the same hospital for a long time without ever recognizing each other, when one of them has nothing to do in the story.


I watched THE PLACE BEYOND THE WINDS this morning and came away with a similar view. Perhaps the most egregious example of things happening for no reason was the return of Dorothy Phillips' character to see her father, now blind. He didn't know who she was. But then the title card explained that a mysterious force (or words to that effect) enlightened him, and boom, out of nowhere, he knows it's her.

Michael Blake's "The Films of Lon Chaney" included a contemporary review from Motion Picture News that wasn't so kind either: "The story is weak... as to the presentation of the story, Mr. De Grasse's [the director's] work is not so meritorious."

Also of interest from Blake's book, it's noted that Dorothy's character eventually reconciles with the father. This appears to be missing from the surviving print.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon Nov 27, 2017 5:03 pm

Over the decades I've looked at a lot of partially preserved and fragmentary bits of silent features. It's the nature of the beast, when the vast majority of them are gone. So, when Ed Lorusso announced as his latest Kickstarter project Buried Treasure (1921), starring Marion Davies, missing the final reel, I contributed, hoping for the best, even as I feared the worst.

It was one of the cases in which the best eventuated. Most of the movie survives in excellent shape, and in a fine toned print. Enough of the the final reel exists for the story to be finished with a series of stills and titles. It's not all one would wish for -- the location shots at sea are washed out -- but the story is interesting and for 1921, it's extremely well told, typical for something four or five years later, thanks, in no small part, to set design by Joseph Urban, titles by Fred Waller, camerawork by Harold Rossen, and a skilled cast.

Marion Davies is the daughter of Anders Randolf, "The Pirate of Wall Street". He wants her to marry John Charles, a European aristocrat whose only saving grace is his title. She loves Norman Kerry, a penniless doctor, and she and her father clash over the matter. When daddy orders her to marry John Charles after they all come back from an ocean voyage, she starts to have fits, in which she starts to write things backwards in her diary that seem to lead them to buried treasure. Then, when her mother asks her to read her something, a ghost directs her to a pirate story that mirrors her own situation.

The outcome of the movie will be no surprise to anyone, but there are enough engrossing details, from a costume party in a beautiful chamber to a desperate fight against pirates, that anyone who enjoys a well done movie for its own sake will have no complaint.

Bob
The matter is complicated, and I shall proceed to complicate it still more.

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon Nov 27, 2017 7:22 pm

Having looked at the 20 minutes of The Belle of New York (1919) that survive, and are an extra on Ed Lorusso's dvd of Buried Treasure, I am forced into a reappraisal -- of William Randolph Hearst.

Raymond Bloomer is a rich man's son who cares for two things: moral show girl Marion Davies and the bottle. When Marion and his valet, Etienne Giradot, warn him off the latter, he goes on a toot, winding up at the blind pig run by the mob about to close down the Salvation Army office across the street -- where Marion is now banging the tambourine, and looking absolutely fetching, of course. That, and a brief bit of Ziegfeld showgirls doing a routine -- supposedly shot on the roof of the New Amsterdam by Ziegfeld himself -- are all that survive.

The problem is that it's all a stately bore. No one moves. Oh, the camera occasionally pans five degrees to follow a character across a composition, but the composition, composed of ten or so people, doesn't change. Occasionally a trolley will come into view in the background, which just emphasizes that things are happening -- but this movie doesn't care about them. All movement in the movie is achieved by editorial cuts. It's dead and dull.

It might do at a factory like Universal, where they turned out cheap movies that played the neighborhood circuit, two days at one theater, then across town for a day at another. You want your name in lights, Marion? You want to be a star?

That's why I've been forced to reappraise Hearst. We who are fans of Miss Davies have long said that she would have become a star without him. Having seen the remnants of this movie, my conclusion is she would have lasted two years, another three in supporting roles, then gone. Because a star needs two things: luck, a string of hits to put her name at the top of the bill; and some one interested in her career to keep it there. Hearst was the one who wanted to keep it there and he did what he did so well: he spent money and hired the best. Anita Loos and John Emerson to write; Alan Dwan to direct; and, as Marion gained in confidence and the returns justified the costs, eventually he spent a million dollars on When Knighthood Was in Flower. Here's a block-long set. Clown your way out of that, Marion.

And she did. But she never would have done it without Hearst. She would have been in more dreadful little soapers like this one and we never would have heard of her, not even as the butt of Orson Welles' ill-humored joke in Citizen Kane.

Bob
The matter is complicated, and I shall proceed to complicate it still more.

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon Nov 27, 2017 10:38 pm

Finally saw "Tell it To the Marines," with Chaney. I found it one of the most accessible silent films out there. I was surprised to see much of it was a comedy, more so probably than any other Chaney film except perhaps one or two (but I can't tell you what they are). Great film I think to start people off on silent films, especially those with a military background.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue Nov 28, 2017 7:32 am

telical wrote:Finally saw "Tell it To the Marines," with Chaney. I found it one of the most accessible silent films out there. I was surprised to see much of it was a comedy, more so probably than any other Chaney film except perhaps one or two (but I can't tell you what they are). Great film I think to start people off on silent films, especially those with a military background.

When I first watched this, I remember thinking a later film, "The D. I." (1957) had copied part of this story. Both films have a hardened drill Sargent and a new recruit in need of special attention.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050283/plo ... _=tt_ov_pl" target="_blank
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