Worst of the Worst

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
  • Author
  • Message
Offline
User avatar

entredeuxguerres

  • Posts: 4726
  • Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:46 pm
  • Location: Empire State

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostSun Feb 14, 2016 8:54 am

boblipton wrote:I agree From the Manger to the Cross is no walk in the park. Nor will you find anyone with a lower opinion of Sidney Olcott than I. However, in 1912, no one had any idea of how to make a feature movie, so I think we should cut it some slack.

Bob


That's only fair; when it was shown on TCM, it seemed to me "not that bad" for 1912, even though it was conceived as an illustrated Bible brought to life in tableaux vivants, not an integrated story; but everyone who bought a ticket already knew the story forwards & backwards.
Offline
User avatar

greta de groat

  • Posts: 1968
  • Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2008 1:06 am
  • Location: California

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostSun Feb 14, 2016 1:48 pm

We've had this discussion a few times here. I remember being particularly hard one Tir au flanc and Hero for a Night, though The First Auto was up there too. I also couldn't stand La Roue. I've seen quite a few boring ones since then that i can't bother to remember.

greta
Greta de Groat
Unsung Divas of the Silent Screen
http://www.stanford.edu/~gdegroat
Offline
User avatar

Jim Roots

  • Posts: 2320
  • Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 2:45 pm
  • Location: Ottawa, ON

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostSun Feb 14, 2016 2:25 pm

greta de groat wrote:We've had this discussion a few times here. I remember being particularly hard one Tir au flanc and Hero for a Night, though The First Auto was up there too. I also couldn't stand La Roue. I've seen quite a few boring ones since then that i can't bother to remember.

greta


Maltin gave The First Auto three stars! Are y'all sayin' Leonard is not infallible??!!

Jim
Online
User avatar

boblipton

  • Posts: 4825
  • Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:01 pm
  • Location: Clement Clarke Moore's Farm

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostSun Feb 14, 2016 2:27 pm

greta de groat wrote:We've had this discussion a few times here. I remember being particularly hard one Tir au flanc and Hero for a Night, though The First Auto was up there too. I also couldn't stand La Roue. I've seen quite a few boring ones since then that i can't bother to remember.

greta



Always worth reconsidering every once in a while. I've seen three lost films so far this year!

Bob
His plagiarism was limited only by his faulty technique.

-- Peter Schickele
Offline
User avatar

Mike Gebert

Site Admin

  • Posts: 5460
  • Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:23 pm
  • Location: Chicago

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostSun Feb 14, 2016 2:43 pm

Okay, searching for the worst silent I could think of revealed that I had mixed two up, seen years apart. I know some like Barbara Bedford, but this was terrible:

SUNSHINE OF PARADISE ALLEY (*)-- If Sylvester Stallone hadn't already demonstrated to your satisfaction that no movie with "Paradise Alley" in its title is any damn good, this Chadwick Production ("If it's a Chadwick, it's sentimental treacle") settles it. Max Davidson makes the first part of this, set in the aforementioned slum full of poor but plucky folk, fun, but after a reel or so poor but plucky Sunshine (Barbara Bedford) falls in love with the rich boy and it leaves the slum setting entirely to turn into The Villain Still Pursued Her. After about the 11th convenient coincidence (I think it was the bad guy leaving a note explaining his entire criminal plan in the taxi run by The Poor But Plucky Lad Who Secretly Loves Her-- I'm not joking) I just checked out emotionally and couldn't care less. Poor But Plucky Phil Carli cast pianistic pearls before this swine, and gave it far more than it deserved.


and then there's this one:

BETTER DAYS (*1/2) Allegedly a vehicle for the female comedian Dorothy Devore, whose Take the Heir was well-liked last year, this was neither much of a comedy nor much of a vehicle for her, since she vanishes for two or three reels in the middle. Instead, it’s mostly a melodrama about a mom fallen on hard times for the sake of her wastrel son, and she’s so indulgent of his manifest worthlessness that you wish the mom from the William S. Hart picture* would come over and pistol-whip some sense into her. There’s a racing finale that solves everything, but really, the only redeeming feature of this sentimental and exceedingly illogical claptrap is a vigorous five-minute catfight between Devore and some floozy.


The half a star I gave one of them was just out of kindness to the collector who saved it, I think.

* The Cradle of Courage, shown at the same festival.
“Sentimentality is when it doesn't come off—when it does, you get a true expression of life's sorrows.” —Alain-Fournier
Offline
User avatar

silentfilm

Moderator

  • Posts: 8967
  • Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:31 pm
  • Location: Dallas, TX USA

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostSun Feb 14, 2016 7:11 pm

For me, it is CHINATOWN NIGHTS (1929), shown at Cinecon a few years ago. This part-talkie was a curiosity, and a frustrating film. Completed as a silent, sound shots were inserted later. Unlike other part-talkies where the story stops for a few sound scenes, the sound was either post-dubbed, or it is integrated between silent shots. This really throws the pacing of the film off, since a shot that is a little fast because it was shot at 20 or 22 fps is followed by a natural-looking 24 fps sound shot. This film must be one of the most politically incorrect movies ever made (this side of GOLDEN DAWN). Besides featuring a stereotypical Tong war between Chinese gangs, one gang has a white leader, the really mean Wallace Beery. Beery slaps Florence Vidor and she likes it! The film makes fun of reporter Jack Oakie's stutter. The first five minutes is actually quite good, as tourists slumming in Chinatown are treated to fake scenes of Chinese life. (*)
Offline
User avatar

entredeuxguerres

  • Posts: 4726
  • Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:46 pm
  • Location: Empire State

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostSun Feb 14, 2016 7:23 pm

silentfilm wrote:...This film must be one of the most politically incorrect movies ever made (this side of GOLDEN DAWN)...


I've GOT to see it! Possibly (though I doubt it) it will make up for my disappointment in Golden Dawn; disappointment, I mean, that all the outrageous content I'd been told to expect (by phonies who'd probably never seen it) was small beer & weak tea.

The films, by the way, that really do "make fun" of stuttering are the ones, SCORES of them, that use this idiotic gimmick for comic effect; comical, that is, to grade-schoolers & adults suffering arrested development.
Offline
User avatar

entredeuxguerres

  • Posts: 4726
  • Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:46 pm
  • Location: Empire State

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostSun Feb 14, 2016 8:00 pm

Harold Aherne wrote:There are 81 films from 1929-39 that were rated *1/2, so for brevity I'll stop at 1932:
1932
Chandu the Magician
Merrily We Go to Hell
Rockabye
The Son-Daughter

-HA


Rockabye
is a film I'd seen on TCM but remembered little about, so I just watched it again; though there are other Connie Bennett pictures I like much better (I love her, I confess), I still thought it pretty good, despite the unwelcome (to me) intrusion in the story of a toddler. (But somewhat making up for that, she sings!) Bob Osborne noted in his introduction that it had received very bad reviews when released, which is the clue to how it came to be on this list--as commonly happens, the phonies who compiled it were merely parroting something they'd read! (A major reason, undoubtedly, it had received those bad reviews was its unconventional ending--not a happy one at all.)
Offline

wich2

  • Posts: 1268
  • Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:11 am

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostSun Feb 14, 2016 8:10 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:
>2) The studio system had such basic competence that things might be dull, but rarely wretched.<

With respect, I think Sturgeon's Law is eternal, across all disciplines!


You miss my point. By mostly coloring in the lines, they could be dull, but it took more artistic freedom to finally make movies that made you go "Good God, what were they thinking?"


Mike, I do get your point, and mostly agree - but not totally.

What say folks, then, to the painful, misbegotten mess that is Larry Semon's WIZARD OF OZ? And, if we include Talkies under your "studio system" umbrella, I'd just say those magic words, "Monogram" and "PRC," from whose boon many true t*rds were given us!

-Craig
Offline
User avatar

entredeuxguerres

  • Posts: 4726
  • Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:46 pm
  • Location: Empire State

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostSun Feb 14, 2016 8:14 pm

wich2 wrote:...What say folks, then, to the painful, misbegotten mess that is Larry Semon's WIZARD OF OZ? ...

-Craig



All I'd say is that 15-20 min. was as much as I could take before hitting "eject."
Offline
User avatar

Mike Gebert

Site Admin

  • Posts: 5460
  • Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:23 pm
  • Location: Chicago

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostSun Feb 14, 2016 9:36 pm

My feeling on the Semon Wizard of Oz is that it's not good, but it's by no means as terrible as billed:

The Wizard of Oz (**1/2)— Larry Semon's 1925 take on Baum is widely regarded as one of the worst well-known silents ever made— but it's not that bad. It's usually knocked for not having the heart of the 1939 version, and that's true, but the fact is that none of Baum's sequel novels did either— and that's what this is much more like, books like Ozma of Oz which focus on fantasy court intrigue and such things in Oz. Some of that is intermittently quite charming, although Semon has always struck me as being the silent Tati— creator of large, elaborately thought-out things which look sort of like gags, but don't actually involve making you laugh.
“Sentimentality is when it doesn't come off—when it does, you get a true expression of life's sorrows.” —Alain-Fournier
Offline
User avatar

Donald Binks

  • Posts: 2599
  • Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:08 am
  • Location: Somewhere, over the rainbow

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostSun Feb 14, 2016 10:12 pm

I'm glad this is limited to silents (mostly) as with talkies - where on earth would you start? - and, would the list actually fit this space? :D I would say that 8 out of 10 modern pictures I watch (or go through) qualify - thankfully, the older the picture lessens the scale, usually. :D
Regards from
Donald Binks

"I was in love with a beautiful blonde one time. She led me to drink. It's the only thing I'm thankful to her for."
Offline

Michael Arlt

  • Posts: 60
  • Joined: Sat May 30, 2015 8:49 pm

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostSun Feb 14, 2016 10:45 pm

I was going to list the Semon Wizard of Oz but others beat me to it, its so bad I'm mentioning it also.

Anything with Hugh Herbert and the Taxi Boys also qualifies.
Offline

wich2

  • Posts: 1268
  • Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:11 am

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostMon Feb 15, 2016 11:45 am

I mean, not only is the film clumsy in so many ways - but when a dramatization has only a glancing (and then, only if you squint a lot) resemblance to its iconic source...
Offline

wich2

  • Posts: 1268
  • Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:11 am

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostMon Feb 15, 2016 11:51 am

>8 out of 10 modern pictures I watch (or go through) qualify<

I think you must be choosing the wrong ones, sir! Again, Sturgeon's Law is eternal and immutable.

As far as the rose-colored glasses theory of the past, evidence here to the contrary:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Good-Old-Days ... 0394709411" target="_blank

Image
Offline

earlytalkiebuffRob

  • Posts: 2553
  • Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:53 am

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostMon Feb 15, 2016 4:06 pm

Big Silent Fan wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Two off the top of my head were the Frank Benson RICHARD III (1911) and FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS (1912), both of which were a struggle to sit through...

Years ago I bought one of those VHS copies of "From the Manger to the Cross." It was only partially there and the image was quite poor as was the music (if there was any, I cannot remember). So much for the cheap VHS videos that were for sale on Ebay.
Fast forward to the 21st Century and the 100 anniversary.

The film was restored and released on DVD by David Shepard. It's actually two early Sacred Films. The 1905, hand tinted Pathe' film, "The Life and Passion of Jesus Christ" has also been carefully restored and each are accompanied with a carefully made organ score. The multicolored stenciled images are quite thrilling to see.
"From the Manger to the Cross" is mastered from a print of the original negative. It was made on location in Egypt and Palestine for the Kalem Company.

For quality religious films, these are right up there with "King of Kings" now that they have been presented properly.


Of course the quality of the presentation affects one's opinion. I had no idea there were better elements surviving let alone from the original negative, so will bear that in mind. Clearly all opinions are thus qualified.

I have yet to see KING OF KINGS as it is not always easy to find a 'window' for such a lengthy opus. Two earlier opportunities were muffed up for different reasons, but it is on my 'to see' list. At least the Pathe film will be easier to catch up with...
Offline
User avatar

Smari1989

  • Posts: 356
  • Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:14 am
  • Location: Norway

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostMon Feb 15, 2016 4:13 pm

Though I can't honestly think of any silents as unbelievably bad as the worst talkies I've watched (at least not when it comes to films longer than a split-reel), I'd attribute this to the fact that I have (after all, and pardon me for admitting this) watched more talkies in my life than silents. OF COURSE they made really bad, banal films back in the silent days as well. I'll grant that I'd, as a general rule, rather watch a bad silent than a bad new talkie, because at least the silent would give me a glimpse into a bygone era of film-making, but that doesn't mean the bad silent needs to have more inherent value than the bad talkie, in an of itself.

As to Otto L. Bettmann's book, it's a very entertaining (though at times, also saddening) read, and a must to anyone wishing they were born in a bygone era (or maybe not), but it is (understandably) rather one-sided. For the sake of balance, it'd be nice if a similar book came out seeing it from a slightly different perspective, not necessarily arguing that things were BETTER in the past, but at least that there were SOME reasonably good things around as well (of course, such a book would be less fun).
Offline
User avatar

Donald Binks

  • Posts: 2599
  • Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:08 am
  • Location: Somewhere, over the rainbow

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostMon Feb 15, 2016 4:25 pm

wich2 wrote:>8 out of 10 modern pictures I watch (or go through) qualify<

I think you must be choosing the wrong ones, sir! Again, Sturgeon's Law is eternal and immutable.

As far as the rose-colored glasses theory of the past, evidence here to the contrary:


I think that the old warhorse of "Things were better in them olden days" is a furphy. None of us would want to go back to living as things once were. But - and here's the big but - there are certain things from them olden days which are worth preserving. Once of the reasons I like going to San Francisco so much is that they still have their cable trams - my city, Melbourne, had them up to 1940. Other past things I like are silent pictures, steam trains, beautiful old buildings and Wurlitzer organs to name just a few.... but I do like my computer and internet from current times! :D
Regards from
Donald Binks

"I was in love with a beautiful blonde one time. She led me to drink. It's the only thing I'm thankful to her for."
Offline

wich2

  • Posts: 1268
  • Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:11 am

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostMon Feb 15, 2016 4:42 pm

>it'd be nice if a similar book came out seeing it from a slightly different perspective, not necessarily arguing that things were BETTER in the past, but at least that there were SOME reasonably good things around as well<

As the wise man once wrote, "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

Smari, I'd argue that with the way human memory works, MOST memoirs of the past are already that more positive-leaning document of the past.

And I'd also recommend GOOD OLD DAYS magazine, especially back issues from the '60s - '80s. Plumb full of "regular folks" submitted reminiscences.

-Craig
Offline
User avatar

Rick Lanham

  • Posts: 1786
  • Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:16 pm
  • Location: Gainesville, FL

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostMon Feb 15, 2016 5:35 pm

The good old days. Yeah. I just learned last night (or re-learned if I've forgotten) that my dad had diphtheria when he was 11 years old. He was hospitalized and they had to do some kind of minor operation on him. I learned this by searching his name on an old newspaper site.

The world's moved on and improved with solutions for many problems. He did get to play down by the local river as a child, but maybe that's where he caught it.

Rick
Last edited by Rick Lanham on Mon Feb 15, 2016 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Online
User avatar

boblipton

  • Posts: 4825
  • Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:01 pm
  • Location: Clement Clarke Moore's Farm

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostMon Feb 15, 2016 5:39 pm

I don't think anyone, even here, with our backwards-looking interests, would suggest that the world has not improved immeasurably in our lifetimes. However, not all change is progress.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Mon Feb 15, 2016 5:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
His plagiarism was limited only by his faulty technique.

-- Peter Schickele
Offline
User avatar

entredeuxguerres

  • Posts: 4726
  • Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:46 pm
  • Location: Empire State

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostMon Feb 15, 2016 5:54 pm

Donald Binks wrote:...None of us would want to go back to living as things once were...


Better not bet your farm on that proposition--I guarantee you'll loose.
Offline
User avatar

entredeuxguerres

  • Posts: 4726
  • Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:46 pm
  • Location: Empire State

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostMon Feb 15, 2016 6:09 pm

wich2 wrote:Smari, I'd argue that with the way human memory works, MOST memoirs of the past are already that more positive-leaning document of the past.
-Craig


SOME, of course, but MOST? The many interviews I've conducted with "old timers" (hate that misleading term "oral history") do not confirm there's a "positive bias"; many folks are just as eager to emphasize how hard their early lives had been, the hardships they'd surmounted, their "ten mile walk to school through knee-deep snow, and uphill both ways," and the like.
Offline

wich2

  • Posts: 1268
  • Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:11 am

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostMon Feb 15, 2016 6:58 pm

entredeuxguerres wrote:
Donald Binks wrote:...None of us would want to go back to living as things once were...


Better not bet your farm on that proposition--I guarantee you'll loose.


More dirt. More disease. Harder work. Worse healthcare. More crime, including the sexual and child abuse type (much of it unreported or hushed up.) Lynchings. Next-to-no warning about blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, and the like. And an even greater gulf between the suffering poor and the cushioned rich.

And you don't even need world history to hear this as the case - just dig into your old family history. I love the best culture of past times, the same way I love the best culture of present times. But as the book cited above amply testifies, facts are facts.

And rose-colored glasses in this world are liars, just as the green-colored ones in Oz were.

-Craig
Offline
User avatar

Donald Binks

  • Posts: 2599
  • Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:08 am
  • Location: Somewhere, over the rainbow

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostMon Feb 15, 2016 7:38 pm

More dirt. More disease. Harder work. Worse healthcare. More crime, including the sexual and child abuse type (much of it unreported or hushed up.) Lynchings. Next-to-no warning about blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, and the like. And an even greater gulf between the suffering poor and the cushioned rich.


So, what's changed?

(Perhaps not so many lynchings these days, but if you go over to somewhere in the middle east you had better not stick your neck out.)
Regards from
Donald Binks

"I was in love with a beautiful blonde one time. She led me to drink. It's the only thing I'm thankful to her for."
Offline
User avatar

entredeuxguerres

  • Posts: 4726
  • Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:46 pm
  • Location: Empire State

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostMon Feb 15, 2016 7:58 pm

Donald Binks wrote:...if you go over to somewhere in the middle east you had better not stick your neck out.)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnSdKzsaofo
Offline

wich2

  • Posts: 1268
  • Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:11 am

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostMon Feb 15, 2016 8:24 pm

Donald Binks wrote:
More dirt. More disease. Harder work. Worse healthcare. More crime, including the sexual and child abuse type (much of it unreported or hushed up.) Lynchings. Next-to-no warning about blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, and the like. And an even greater gulf between the suffering poor and the cushioned rich.


So, what's changed?


Now, Sir Donald, you must be having us on!

Better hygiene. Better treatment of illness. Realistic workweeks. Better control of crime, and less sweeping of things like the priest abuse scandal under the rug. Many fewer lynching-type deaths. Life-saving warnings about the natural disasters listed above. A much larger Middle Class.

(Of course, we're talking about the First and Second Worlds here, not as much the Third. And as to the "we're trying to bring back the dark ages" radicals in the East, well, that is their own insanity.)
Offline
User avatar

Donald Binks

  • Posts: 2599
  • Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:08 am
  • Location: Somewhere, over the rainbow

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostMon Feb 15, 2016 8:36 pm

wich2 wrote:
Donald Binks wrote:
More dirt. More disease. Harder work. Worse healthcare. More crime, including the sexual and child abuse type (much of it unreported or hushed up.) Lynchings. Next-to-no warning about blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, and the like. And an even greater gulf between the suffering poor and the cushioned rich.


So, what's changed?


Now, Sir Donald, you must be having us on!

Better hygiene. Better treatment of illness. Realistic workweeks. Better control of crime, and less sweeping of things like the priest abuse scandal under the rug. Many fewer lynching-type deaths. Life-saving warnings about the natural disasters listed above. A much larger Middle Class.

(Of course, we're talking about the First and Second Worlds here, not as much the Third. And as to the "we're trying to bring back the dark ages" radicals in the East, well, that is their own insanity.)


Maybe so in the privileged first world countries but not in a majority of places on this earth.
Regards from
Donald Binks

"I was in love with a beautiful blonde one time. She led me to drink. It's the only thing I'm thankful to her for."
Offline
User avatar

Mike Gebert

Site Admin

  • Posts: 5460
  • Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:23 pm
  • Location: Chicago

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostMon Feb 15, 2016 8:48 pm

This is why one should never embark upon time travel without all your vaccinations being up to date.
“Sentimentality is when it doesn't come off—when it does, you get a true expression of life's sorrows.” —Alain-Fournier
Offline

wich2

  • Posts: 1268
  • Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:11 am

Re: Worst of the Worst

PostMon Feb 15, 2016 8:53 pm

And there it is.

(And you'd probably better be armed. And take a lot of coin with you. Oh - and make sure you're white!)
PreviousNext

Return to Talking About Silents

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 6 guests