What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
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boblipton

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostThu Feb 08, 2018 6:46 am

New Blacksmith Shop (1895): The first serious movie that Dickson turned out for Edison -- once the tests known as "Monkeyshines" nos. 1, 2 & 3 were done -- was The Blacksmith Shop. That was 1891. It would still be a few more years until the boys had a product they were ready to show in public and charge money for. That would be 1894. And when 1895 came around, there were the wiseacres, saying "Well, what have you got that's new?"

So they redid the movie from 1891, but to make sure that people weren't disappointed, they shot it from a different angle and tacked "New" to the title. And all the wiseacres announced that Tommy Edison was losing his edge, that he hadn't come up with anything new in years.

Just like they're still saying, only at the moment it's about Apple. In truth, I think the only ones not coming up with anything new are the wiseacres.

Bob
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostThu Feb 08, 2018 8:09 am

But then -they never do!
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostThu Feb 08, 2018 2:29 pm

boblipton wrote:Helen of the Four Gates (1920) is one of the rarely seen features produced and directed by Hepworth in the 1920s.


timings on YouTube range from 1:17 to 2:11

how long was the version you saw, and do you feel that was the optimal version re: visual quality?

thanks
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostThu Feb 08, 2018 2:37 pm

Daniel Eagan wrote:
boblipton wrote:Helen of the Four Gates (1920) is one of the rarely seen features produced and directed by Hepworth in the 1920s.


timings on YouTube range from 1:17 to 2:11

how long was the version you saw, and do you feel that was the optimal version re: visual quality?

thanks


The version I looked at was 77 minutes. The transfer was excellent. There was one obvious splice, but given the many poor transfers from multi-generational prints I’ve looked at over the decades, nothing worth mentioning. When you can tell that, yes, the producer never allowed his leading lady to wear make-up, you’ve got a fine copy!

Bob
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostThu Feb 08, 2018 7:13 pm

I watched Lois Weber's Shoes tonight. I recently bought this from Milestone. The film was well done. It was a tad melodramatic but not enough to take away any of the entertainment and the ending was well done. There are extras with the DVD and I watched two related to the restoration. Apparently the most complete nitrate print had developed a bacteria, which was eating away at the emulsion and image. "Before" and "After" restoration comparisons were shown and the restoration job by The EYE was astounding. Thanks to Milestone for making this available.

Matthew
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostFri Feb 09, 2018 6:55 am

Leone XIII (1896): Leo XIII was the Pope when the motion picture camera was invented, and it wasn't too long before he consented to being filmed. Within a few years, not only would he appear in this movie, but in a series for Biograph. This remains, interestingly, the first time a Pope was filmed. Despite claims that people feared cameras would steal their souls or that the images of trains on screen would send people rushing for the exits, movies were accepted and adopted very quickly, seen as a way of bringing images and messages to people in a way that even the printed word could not; many could not read, but few could not see.

Yet, was this such a wise idea? Part of the power of the rulers was the fact that you could not touch them, could not even envisage them. They were some vague, beautiful, perfect entities, clothed in pure, bright colors, far distant from you. This pope is a nice old man who needs a helping hand, just like your sweet (but dotty) great-uncle who talks nonsense. You dont want anything bad to happen to him, of course, but you have better things to do than listen to him go on all day.

Bob
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostFri Feb 09, 2018 7:27 am

In the thread Is This movie from 1927 or is it a modern phony? at
viewtopic.php?f=7&t=25540

I suggested that the first commercial use for any new technology is pornography. Commercial film-making was two years old, still a novelty item, when Coucher de la mariée (1896) appeared -- and the print I saw of this blue movie was tinted blue!

It's certainly nothing much by modern standards. A couple -- he in formal clothes, she in a wedding gown -- prepare for bed. She takes off her outer clothes, leaving plenty on, while he reads the newspaper. She, in this case, is Louise Willy, which for an English-speaking audience is rather unfortunate. Even so, even for the era, it's rather mild for what was easily available if you weren't dragging along a blue-stocking. Neither was the competition at all backwards in showing their audience shocking behavior. There was The Kiss from Edison; Melies would release Apres le Bal, in which he would, for an instant, show his future second wife au naturel, the following year. The racy race was on.

Bob
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostFri Feb 09, 2018 9:56 am

Ambulance at the Accident (1897): A man lies on the ground in front of an unmoving street car. Police men walk around. A horse-drawn ambulance pulls up and two attendants take a stretcher and lift the injured man onto the ambulance, which pulls away even before he is settled.

It's a recreation, of course; the idea that Edison's cameramen were roaming the streets, came upon accident, set up in the perfect location and set the camera rolling a the exact moment, without the cops stopping them is absurd. Yet, in a program of mixed actualities -- parades and shots of fire engines thundering down the street, people leaving factories and trains arriving in stations -- and staged events -- battles fought in bath tubs and fields in New Jersey, dancers performing on stages with pantomime horses -- might the sheer variety have overwhelmed the audience with its chaos?

Bob
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostFri Feb 09, 2018 10:07 am

boblipton wrote:She, in this case, is Louise Willy, which for an English-speaking audience is rather unfortunate.

Bob

:lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostFri Feb 09, 2018 4:26 pm

Ambulance Call (1897): The stable doors are open and a horse-drawn ambulance emerges, then heads off down the street at an accelerating clip, followed by attendants in a topless wagon. A police officer holds back foot and street traffic until the professionals are out of sight, then everyone goes about their business.

Like many of the Edison actualities supervised by William Heisse, I believe this was staged, although it is quite possible that given the calls of a busy and dangerous city, he could have set up his camera and waited for the action to occur. Whichever it was, the audience, whether in one of the nickelodeons springing up or on a peep show machine, would have had the impression of the busy, life-saving work these people did, and a soupcon of the second-hand thrill that their call to action portended.

Bob
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostSat Feb 10, 2018 5:31 pm

It's hard to say what might have happened had D.W. Griffith's bosses at Biograph agreed to let him make features, instead of limiting him to three reels, as they did with The Little Tease (1913). With its strong story of lust, pride, anger and ultimate redemption, might Griffith have expanded it to encompass all the seven deadly sins? As it is, he produced a typically fine melodrama with strong outdoor photography.

Mae Marsh lives in the hills with her father, W. Christie Miller, and her crippled mother, Kate Bruce. Bobby Harron is sweet on her, but she likes to throw rocks at him, as well as the top-hatted and cloaked Henry B. Walthall who comes riding by one day. Walthall isn't taken aback. He gives her sauce, and talks her into coming down into the valley with her. While he is making arrangements, up comes Viola Dana, and they fight and cuddle. Miss Marsh realizes she has made a mistake, but can't go home. Instead she gets a job at a lunch room.

The copy recently posted on YouTube is from a complete 16mm print of great age, and quite obviously far more coy than the sort of stage melodrama that Griffith had doubtless toured in before getting into the movies, but a lot of the appurtenances are there. As one would expect for this period, the story-telling is brisk, the camera lingers only for the "beauty shots" of Miss Marsh in the open countryside -- and beautiful they are indeed -- and Griffith's star company fills out the group shots without any fuss -- if you look for them, you can spot Lillian Gish and Lionel Barrymore, but if you don't, they're just people standing where people would naturally stand, doing things that people would naturally do.

In the end, the survival of this three-reeler doesn't set new highs or lows for Griffith in this period. It's simply another fine work in a period when he was doing very fine work, and a pleasure for those of us who enjoy his work, warts and all.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Sun Feb 18, 2018 7:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostSun Feb 11, 2018 2:55 pm

boblipton wrote:Chickens in Turkey (1919): When a yacht owned and crewed only by women sails up to the shores of Turkey, the only man in sight is Marcel Perez. When he comes aboard, the young lovelies dress him in woman's clothing so the man-hungry owner won't grab him. Soon, however, pirates seize everyone and sell the women to a Turkish Pasha, who is particularly taken with the lovely Marcel. Only Dorothy Earle had escaped the pirates' notice, so she dresses in men's clothing to rescue everyone.

The copy of this gender-bending comedy that appears on the MARCEL PEREZ vol. 2 dvd does not survive in topnotch shape -- there's some decomposition, and censors had gotten their hands on the copy, removing things that would offended Pennsylvanians a century ago, but the essentially dizziness has not only survived, its moment has come! Good comedy is what makes people laugh; great comedy turns your world upside down and suddenly, things make more sense that way. This year, we seem to be living inside Perez' comedy. We'll see what happens next year.

Bob


Will have to check if this is listed in the definitive work, 'Cluck! The True Story of Chickens in the Cinema'n by Jon Stephen Fink...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostSun Feb 11, 2018 3:00 pm

For anyone wanting to know what managing a cinema involved in the 1920s, one can recommend RUNNING A CINEMA (1921) in the 'Memoirs of Miffy' series. Contains at least one non-PC moment...

THE LITTLE TEASE (1913) is, despite its title, rather a grim drama. Mae Marsh plays the tomboyish daughter of elderly parents, the mother being confined to a wheelchair. To their homestead arrives a smartly-dressed fellow who tempts Mash away, threatening her neighbour Jim with a pistol when he attempts to intervene. The affair has tragic repercussions, and the suitor turns out to be a love rat as well as a bully. Despite some rather jumpy continuity, this is apowerful affair, which becomes both grim and gripping.

Silent, with a piano score, IN THE STREET (1948) is a sort of early cinema-verite, made by Helen Levitt, Janice Loeb and James Agee, using hidden cameras to catch Harlem life. Although there is almost a story structure to the film, with some of the youngsters appearing more than once throughout the film, this is a striking piece of work which was brought to my attention from reading Manny Farber's piece about it in 'Movies'. As well as showing much of the poverty of the district we do see a lighter element with the children enjoying what seems to be a Halloween lark as well as some of the residents making the most of what little they have in the simple pleasures of clothes, make-up and just making friends with a local dog. Rather reminiscent of the pawnshop sequence in THE LOST WEEKEND, which Agee saw a few years before.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostTue Feb 13, 2018 2:03 pm

THE MAN WHO HAD EVERYTHING (1920) features Jack Pickford as a foolish young man who is the despair of his shipbuilder father (Lionel Belmore) and whose secretary (Priscilla Bonner) has a secret passion for the boy. An encounter with a blind beggar (Alec B Francis) leads to the boy being given the 'beggar's curse' of having everything he could possibly want.

Although the 'list' seems to be mainly trivial things, it includes a woman (Shannon Day) who is stringing him along for his money. Pop sets things into motion, and the results (that he become responsible and hard-working) appear almost immediately. A pleasant semi-comedy, with the ever-reliable Francis in entertaining form as a pious and selfless old codger who seems happy to beg from the public but refuses money from the well-off.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostTue Feb 13, 2018 2:25 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:THE MAN WHO HAD EVERYTHING (1920) features Jack Pickford as a foolish young man who is the despair of his shipbuilder father (Lionel Belmore) and whose secretary (Priscilla Bonner) has a secret passion for the boy. An encounter with a blind beggar (Alec B Francis) leads to the boy being given the 'beggar's curse' of having everything he could possibly want.

Although the 'list' seems to be mainly trivial things, it includes a woman (Shannon Day) who is stringing him along for his money. Pop sets things into motion, and the results (that he become responsible and hard-working) appear almost immediately. A pleasant semi-comedy, with the ever-reliable Francis in entertaining form as a pious and selfless old codger who seems happy to beg from the public but refuses money from the well-off.


Jack Pickford was a most reliable and likeable actor, though Olive Thomas fans would gladly see him exhumed so he could be killed again.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostTue Feb 13, 2018 3:08 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:A pleasant semi-comedy, with the ever-reliable Francis in entertaining form as a pious and selfless old codger who seems happy to beg from the public but refuses money from the well-off.


Why does he do that? (Serious question.)

Jim
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostWed Feb 14, 2018 2:14 pm

Jim Roots wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:A pleasant semi-comedy, with the ever-reliable Francis in entertaining form as a pious and selfless old codger who seems happy to beg from the public but refuses money from the well-off.


Why does he do that? (Serious question.)

Jim


I guess it's from a sense of duty and not wanting money for doing a good turn (he accepts a dollar for his time from Lionel Belmore), but you're right, it doesn't quite make sense.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostWed Feb 14, 2018 2:30 pm

DER VAR ENGANG / ONCE UPON A TIME (1922) is another hard-to evaluate one, due to quite a bit of missing footage, which is filled in by stills and explanatory titles. This makes for a little bit of confusion here and there, especially at the end. This was not cleared op by the IMDb reviews, but the first post on the Nitrateville thread dedicated to the title confirmed how I thought the plot had worked out.

Not what one might call typical Carl Dreyer, ONCE UPON A TIME is a sort of fairy-tale set in a mythical kingdom where the fed-up monarch is despairing of finding a match for his elegant but horribly spoilt daughter. After a succession of suitors are dismissed, the Pince of Denmark (not that one) turns up and is similarly told to get lost. Not to be defeated, the young man and his assistant hatch a cunning plan, with the help of a pedlar....

With the atmosphere set by having the King's household in eighteenth-century costume and the Prince's folk in early medieval, the film is enjoyable and quite exquisite at times, the condition and sparkling quality of much of the surviving material making it all the more surprising that so much has been lost. The Danish scenes in the forests and the potter's cottage are particularly effective, adding a splendid historical feel (which was one of Dreyer's traits) to the fairy-tale atmosphere. A very pleasing if rather peculiar film, with some nice humourous touches, particularly in the opening scenes as well as the more serious side which emerges later on.

Forgot to mention an 'underground' film from 1968 featuring a Lodewyck de Boer, A FAN. Mainly a series of repeat (with variations) shots of what I suspected was a man in drag flicking a fan an different ways. Turns out de Boer was a composer, actor, playwright, etc., but can't say I know what to make of this odd, brief film as yet...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostWed Feb 14, 2018 2:32 pm

Daniel Eagan wrote:
boblipton wrote:Helen of the Four Gates (1920) is one of the rarely seen features produced and directed by Hepworth in the 1920s.


timings on YouTube range from 1:17 to 2:11

how long was the version you saw, and do you feel that was the optimal version re: visual quality?

thanks


The 2:11 upload may well have repeated material, as this seems to occur quite a bit on YT.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostWed Feb 14, 2018 2:43 pm

Thanks to the good folks at the LoC I watched the short 1921 animated film, The First Circus, by Tony Sarg. Part 1 is about some drunken monkeys and has a nice riff about the new innovation of prohibition, while part 2 shows what a caveman/dinosaur circus would have been like.

Done in a shadow puppet style ala Lotte Reiniger, it is far less artistic but quite competently done. I'm really starting to dig this early animation so it's nice to check it off. I do wish I could have screened this before I recently watched The Lost World, they complement each other nicely.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostThu Feb 15, 2018 11:43 am

The End of the World (1916) is perhaps the earliest disaster film and I think I've seen most all the newer ones including "Deep Impact" and the made for TV, "Impact" (2009). It may be an old Silent film, but everything that happens in modern films happens here too. They've even included a "Tsunami" and 'fake news' in the story.
From IMDB: A comet, passing by Earth, causes rioting, social unrest, and major disasters that destroys the world.
Using a large telescope, a scientist discovers a meteor approaching Earth. When word first gets out, the Stock Market crashes as panic sets in. Seeing a chance for profit, the scientist's brother, mine owner (Frank Stoll) buys up all the worthless stock. When the scientific community meets to discuss what might happen, they decide to say nothing, keeping the truth hidden to avoid panic. Seeing an opportunity to become wealthy, mine owner Frank Stoll leaks a false report to the papers, saying that scientists have concluded all will be fine. For about a third of the film, a Meteor with flaming tail can be seen in the sky as a backdrop for every scene.
Stoll sells his worthless Stock when confidence in the future raises the prices, taking his wife back to the mining town to find protection in the mine since he knows the truth.
Seeing it's the end of the World, riots break out and Dina Stoll is shot. Thinking himself safe in the mine, death comes quickly to Frank as well.
Like all well made disaster films, we see the world completely destroyed by fire falling from the sky and the resulting flood. Only three survive; Dina's sister Edith, rescued from the rooftop by the wandering preacher, and Edith's love, a sailor whose ship was destroyed by the meteor.
With Sun shinning on a brand new day, the World can begin again.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostFri Feb 16, 2018 7:25 pm

Having been alerted to the latest Criterion sale, I took the opportunity to grab the Silent Ozu Three Crime Dramas set (Eclipse 42). Before getting into the individual movies, I want to bring up something that was written on the set's case, which demonstrates the rather clueless manner in which far too many people approach movies.

The great Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu is best known for the stately, meditative domestic dramas he made after World War II. But during his first decade at Shochiku Studios, he dabbled in many genres....


They go on to praise Ozu's work in the set, but I wish to draw your attention to one word, which speaks volumes to me: "dabbled". Here's a director just out of short subjects, and he deigns to work in fields beneath him. I tried to imagine a parallel case. Here's George Stevens, wandering into Merian C. Cooper's office -- or perhaps Pandro Berman, I don't have the exact timeline in my head -- drags a chair up, sits down, puts his boots on the desk and announces "I've just finished directing The Undie-World, and I've had enough of that. I should be starting on The Diary of Ann Frank, but World War II won't start for five years, so I'm looking for an amuse-guele. I think I'll do a couple of Wheeler & Woolsey comedies, and then as a favor, some Astaire movies, because that sounds like fun. No need to thank me. Just write out a large check."

There is something in the heads of many film critics that seems to tell them that everything an auteur does before his greatest work is an attempt to do that particular work, and everything afterwards and attempt to recapitulate it. It's as if they thought that the only movie that was worthy of Ozu was, say, Tokyo Story and that's all he ever wanted to make. In reality, when he made these movies, Ozu was young, ambitious, struggling to make a name for himself, and in all probability anxious to take any assignment he thought within his capabilities. He didn't dabble in these movies. He worked hard at them.

Although it's reasonable to discuss Ozu's career on the case, the place to start discussing a movie is not with the director's career, but with the movie under the discussion. So let's start there.

Hijôsen No Onna aka Dragnet Girl (1933) is a gangster film. Kinuyo Tanaka works in an office, where she has caught the attention of the boss' son. She means to take him for a bundle, because after office hours, she's the moll of Joji Oka, a washed-up boxer and gangster. However, when Sumiko Mizukubo, a nice, old-fashioned shop girl, asks Joji to let her brother, Koji Mitsui out of their gang, the two lovers see a vision of a decent life. Is it beyond their reach?

This movie gives the impression that Ozu was trying to shoot a movie half in the style of Joseph von Sternberg and half in the stye of Frank Borzage -- what would happen if George Bancroft in Thunderbolt met a Janet Gaynor character? Visually, it's very Germanic, with lots of half-lit faces and tracking shots, nothing at all like the style Ozu would adopt after the War. The set design is typical for Ozu in this period, with lots of American posters on the walls.

It has often been stated (which is a slovenly way to not have to cite sources) that Film Noir arose from filtering German expressionism through French Poetic Realism and American Pulp Mystery. Although it did not begin to take shape until the late 1930s, nor flower until the mid-1940s, there's an interesting early sideline in this movie, complete with a femme fatale who leads people to their doom -- who is a nice girl!

Bob
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostSat Feb 17, 2018 9:41 am

I revisited an old favorite of mine, "Marvelous Maciste" (1915) the first of a long series of Maciste films, starring Italian, Bartolomeo Pageno. He first appeared as "Maciste," a faithful negro slave to a Roman in the 1914 classic, "Cabiria." Pageno actually petitioned the court to legally change his name to Maciste.
The very first "Maciste" film is an exciting strongman adventure film about a woman in danger who, after seeing part of the film "Cabiria" (while hiding from her pursuers), writes a fan letter to Pageno, pleading with him to be a 'real' hero for her. The actor, receiving the letter at the film studio decides to see what all this is about.

Two important clips from "Maciste" can be seen here: https://vimeo.com/174513129" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank providing some idea of the scope of this complex story.
The first 50 seconds of this Italian language clip shows one of Maciste's escapes that are more elaborate than what was seen in Houdini films. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZl9tBuLJp0" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank
Shortly after Herr Graf left a review at Nitratville on "Maciste," he sent me a DVD copy, later providing English translations of the Italian titles so I could replace them. It's quite the story, running about an hour.
Below is our friend Herr Graf review at IMDB.
A Long Running Silent Serial

FerdinandVonGalitzien28 May 2010
Frau Josephine is trying to escape from a band of conspirators through the streets of her town when finally she hides in a movie theatre, giving them the slip. The film exhibited in the movie theatre is "Cabiria" and when she sees Herr Maciste at his best, she decides to write a letter to him asking for help to save her and her mother from the wicked Duke Alexis, the man responsible for all their miseries.

As you can see during the early silent times, some silent characters were very popular with audiences who appreciated their forcefulness and their incredible adventures. "Maciste" was a strongman who appeared in the Italian landmark "Cabiria" (1914) directed by Herr Giovanni Pastrone. The muscleman inspired a whole series of sequels over a ten year period. In a sense, his adventures became something of a long running serial.

The character of "Maciste" was performed by Herr Bartolomeo Pagano, the silent screen's first strongman and he played the part in all the sequels. They were films full of adventures wherein the most complicated problem could be solved by Maciste's strength. The films had stereotyped characters and were simple stories in which good and evil were clearly outlined.

"Maciste" (1915) was directed by Herr Luigi Romano Borgnette und Herr Vincenzo Denziot. The two damsels in distress are menaced by the wicked and greedy villain and his band of conspirators but of course Maciste's muscles will save the day. The camera-work is hardly outstanding but effective enough for what it must accomplish.

It must be said that Herr Maciste's physique is great but his acting ability much less so but that's a trifle in a film like this. He uses his biceps, triceps and-once in awhile-his brain to cope with the many dangerous situations he encounters and that's all his fans expected. The film gave undemanding audiences what they wanted, a simple but classic story perfect for an Italian Sunday silent matinée.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must arm wrestle one of his Teutonic heiresses.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostSat Feb 17, 2018 8:36 pm

George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends, wrote:

Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone; whereby in them you may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them to bless you.


and from that text, Yasujiro sermonized one of his early gangster films, Hogaraka Ni Ayume aka Walk Cheerfully (1930). It's the story of a gangster who falls in love with a nice girl, and she with him. When she finds out what he does, however, she tells him that unless he reforms, she will never see him again. He quits the underworld, and gets a job as a window washer, but his old buddies want him to come in on a job....

Looking at Ozu's post-war movies, it's hard to picture his pre-war output. His camera is in almost constant motion. His characters wear modern clothes and travel by car, and Japanese society is not struggling to maintain its balance and traditional values, under siege by international forces. His characters seek to learn what they can from the outside world, whether they be from movie posters on the wall, or a radical Western theologian. Given that Ozu was making a modern drama in an essentially Western medium, this has an inner logic. Yet the rather straightforward and optimistic attitude of this movie rings false. His stronger works in this era were more complicated, more darkly humorous, almost sardonic in their attitude when happy, and bleak when tragic.

The performances are fine, particularly that of Hisao Yoshitani as the protagonist's pugnacious and loyal friend. However, the optimism of Japanese society in this era turned out to be arrogance, and the easy answers of this movie a chimera.

Bob
If no one listens, then it’s just as well. At least I won’t get caught in any lies I tell.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostSun Feb 18, 2018 5:46 am

Ozu yet again in a bit of an odd coincidence. THAT NIGHT'S WIFE (1930) suffers from some decomposition in the early scenes as well as the upload I watched being mute. However, once the main story gets under way, the print improves somewhat and the lack of music isn't a problem.

The film starts of in a noirish fashion with Tokyo (I presume) police patrols and a young masked robber who seems to be very incompetent at his job. We soon find out why after (SPOILER) he is tailed home by a cop masquerading as a cab driver (to be fair, he doesn't quite look the part) and who is on his case.

It turns out that the fellow's daughter is sick, and he has gone on this crime wave due to poverty and desperation. After the cop is tied up by the pair, they keep their bedside vigil. Exhausted the wife wakes up to find that her gun and the cop's are back in his hands, but he does nothing towards arresting the fellow... yet.

The main part of this film is set in the family's tenement apartment, with signs of hardship everywhere (although the posters on display, for BROADWAY SCANDALS, BROADWAY DADDIES and a Walter Huston movie I've yet to identify would go a long way to solve their cash problems nowadays*) and is consistently absorbing and sympathetic. Needless to say, the cop (a good bit older) proves to be sympathetic, at one point even allowing the fellow to escape (he decides to face the music) leading to a hopeful ending to the film. Certainly very American in parts, THAT NIGHT'S WIFE has echoes of later films of that period, although one doubts whether some of the practitioners of this type of film would have had the chance to see this film and others of its ilk. Worth watching, even for those of us who prefer music with their movies.

*to say nothing if the films themselves should ever surface...
[the Vitaphone soundtrack for BROADWAY SCANDALS survives]
Last edited by earlytalkiebuffRob on Sat Mar 17, 2018 12:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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boblipton

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostSun Feb 18, 2018 4:29 pm

Not coincidentally, Earlytalkiefan, I just looked at That Nights Wife (1930), the third of the three Ozu gangster movies in the set.... only it's really about, as you know, a father whose daughter is so sick he commits a robbery, then gets easily racked down at the child's bedside. A brief survey of online (nonNitrateville) discussion refers to this as one of Ozu's "early, non-typical silents." It's the same attitude I complained about in the preface of my review of Dragnet Girl, as if John Ford got off the train from Maine in 1915 and announced "I'm ready to direct How Green Was My Valley. What do you mean this is Azusa?"

It's slow and contemplative and allows the audience to get inside the characters' heads and is a fine little movie. What it doesn't do is use the same, low perspective and simple shots that Ozu would cultivate after the Second World War.... almost certainly because it would not occur to him for fifteen or twenty years that they would work. It's too bad he didn't talk about it with the geniuses on the Internet. They know everything.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Tue Apr 17, 2018 11:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
If no one listens, then it’s just as well. At least I won’t get caught in any lies I tell.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostMon Feb 19, 2018 7:20 pm

It had to happen; I watched something last year and can't for the life of me remember the title.

I do remember that a popular young man was able to marry a girl in town; there was a wedding with her father in attendance, but just after he does, a jealous suitor tells her father that the man's mother was a loose woman (you see two fun loving ladies early in the story where it's said she's really not his mother). The outraged father comes storming in to where his daughter is now living with him and says, "Either you come home with me or I'm going to kill him!" She fears for his life and goes home with father, leaving a goodbye note.
The man has a young kid sister who carries a headless doll everywhere she goes. That was the strange part of the film since it was just dangling at her side.
The kid sister goes with him when he leaves town. Later, they are on a train when it falls from the trestle. The man survives and assists with the injured and then tells someone, a man with his name had been killed. The news of his death is made known to his wife and also the woman who pretended to be his mother.
Years later, he returns home and finds his wife had a child (his?) and moved in with the woman who claimed to be his mother (but wasn't actually related to him). The jealous suitor had died and they can now continue their life together.
A crazy film, but I'd like to have another look.
I thought it might be a early Henry King or King Vidor film, but couldn't find a title that fit in their film lists.

Anyone remember the title?
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostMon Feb 19, 2018 9:26 pm

Could that be "LOVE NEVER DIES" a King Vidor film? The wretched version I saw of it decades ago was hard to follow
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostMon Feb 19, 2018 9:52 pm

The Lamb.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostMon Feb 19, 2018 10:42 pm

FrankFay wrote:Could that be "LOVE NEVER DIES" a King Vidor film? The wretched version I saw of it decades ago was hard to follow


YES!
Thanks so much.

Reading old postings from 2009 today about a train wreck in "The Last Command," made me recall the train wreck in this 1921 film. I was surprised how much of the story was still in my memory, especially that naked and headless doll carried by the young girl.
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