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

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostThu Oct 12, 2017 2:58 pm

Another treasure from YT


It's really kind of awful to hear Milestone's edition, for which they paid Robert Israel to do that score, referred to as "another treasure from YouTube."

I know sometimes it's the only way to see things, or to see them without great effort. But there are real producers, some of whom participate here, behind these releases. And none of them are YouTube.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Oct 13, 2017 1:57 pm

THE TANGO CAVALIER (1923) is an inexpensive-looking movie about a mysterious Spaniard (George Larkin) who turns up at an out-of-the-way place on Mardi Gras night near the Mexican border and is almost immediately called in to replace a sick dancer. His new dancing partner is also involved with a band of crooks who aim to use Larkin's flying skills for smuggling mysterious packages across the border. At the same time a romance develops between him and the daughter (Dorris Dare, who died shockingly young four years later) of a rancher. Throw in a couple of dashes of jealousy and there you have it, more or less.

The film-making here is very rough-and-ready, as is the print. However, a lively accompaniment and a reasonable pace makes the whole thing quite an agreeable way of spending an hour or so, if one doesn't object to the film being rather daffy.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Oct 13, 2017 2:32 pm

It is not too often that one sees a film that is near to being perfect but that is the impression I took away with me after viewing "Underground" (1928).

In a beautifully restored print, "Underground" tells, essentially, the story of two men in love with the same girl. One would think a rather simple tale, but it is embellished by its setting, because the director, Anthony Asquith, has used the crowded metropolis of London as the background. The first scene shows the girl meeting one of her suitors on a London Underground train. This is a remarkable study in people's reactions to each other. Asquith was as astute an observer of everyday life as was Jacques Tati.

As the story progresses we are treated to some wonderful cinematography, much attention to detail, clever use of shadows, interesting camera angles, skilfull editing, peerless acting and subtle insertions of humour in an overall dramatic story. Another interesting point is that intertitles are used sparingly, Asquith essentially uses the camera to tell the story.

As the love story progresses, it becomes more and more dramatic and overtones of the sinister slowly manifest themselves. The climax builds gradually and takes its audience with it on the edge of their seats. It is quite powerful stuff. Finally, we are back on a tube train again in a beautifully choreographed ending which is a cinematic highlight.

The list of players is small and they contrast well against the teaming multitudes. The men are played by Brian Aherne and Cyril McLaglen (Brother to Victor) and the girls are played by Elissa Landi and Norah Baring. I should also give a commendation to the young girl who plays a barmaid in a couple of the scenes. She is able to convey indifference and boredom in her job with absolute realism. Her small role is one of the many highlights in this film where nothing much has been overlooked.

Half of the appreciation of a silent picture is the music that goes with it and I must say that the accompaniment scored by Neil Brand and provided by the B.B.C. Symphony orchestra is a superb achievement. It is delicate where it needs to be and raises itself to stirring crescendos during the dramatic scenes - but no-where is it ever intrusive.

I could not recommend this picture more highly. It should be on any list of classic film.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Oct 13, 2017 3:03 pm

Svärmor på vift (1916), which is to say Mother-in-Law Whirls About, more or less, or maybe Mother-in-Law Blows In, but also translated as Mother-in-Law on the Loose. Charming Swedish short directed by Georg af Klercker depicting stresses on a doctor's household when the in-laws come to visit. The relationship between the doctor (a zesty Nils Chrisander) and his wife (a beautiful Maja Cassel) is delightfully sexy and sweet--we first meet them in pajamas in their bedroom (um, they are in pjs, not us). Matters come to a head at a costume party. All actors inhabit their roles, the acting is refreshingly naturalistic rather than "theatrical," and this unpretentious show really is a delight to see.
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"She confessed subsequently to Cottard that she found me remarkably enthusiastic; he replied that I was too emotional, that I needed sedatives, and that I ought to take up knitting." —Marcel Proust (Cities of the Plain).
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Oct 14, 2017 12:48 pm

I had come across the Italian movie ROTAIE / RAILS (1929) in one of my reference books, but had no idea of its availability. Despite the odd difficulty with the titles, it is indeed a remarkable and intense piece of film making. It opens with a young couple entering a run-down hotel. There is clearly something wrong, and the man puts something in a glass of water (abortion? suicide?). The vibrations from a passing train knocks the glass off the table and they leave, heading to the station. A man drops his bulging wallet and the young fellow picks it up, but is too slow to return it. What to do? Off to the Riviera / Monte Carlo and the 'high life'...

Simply told, and engrossing, this is a story of disillusionment, with ironic commentary on the 'high life' some of the characters lead and others aspire to. Non-familiarity with the leading players helps, and we are shown the attraction and falsity of what the Riviera has to offer as well as a positive attitude to the honest working man as opposed to the parasites and lounge lizards who take advantage of the vulnerable. Silent with an added music and effects track.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon Oct 16, 2017 1:45 pm

The Japanese were still making silents as late as the mid-1930s, and TOKYO HERO (1935) is a very good one indeed. It tells of a young lad brought up by his father and his maid until the father decides to marry a lady with two children. There are difficulties at first, then there are problems with the father's business which has left many people hard up and his family in the lurch, as they have no idea where he has gone.

The wife brings up all three children, but the only work she can get is in a bar catering to businessmen. She keeps this a secret from the children, but the truth starts to leak out, causing all kinds of upset and the splitting up of the family owing to Society's prejudices and hypocrisies. The adopted son stays loyal, understanding why his mother took such drastic and unpleasant steps to keep the family together.

Silent, with a music track, TOKYO HERO has enough plot for a much longer film, and is continuously interesting and moving at times. The disappearance of the father early on is rather a shock, and it is only later that we find out what lies beneath the veneer of a hardworking businessman, although there is a brief clue at the beginning.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon Oct 16, 2017 7:58 pm

What a marvelous adventure "Peter Pan" (1924) is! I can imagine that children today would still find it completely enchanting and captivating. It is also good that Paramount accepted Sir James Barrie's conditions regarding having his successful stage play photographed. The only thing that was changed was that the Darling family are now situated in the United States - which is I suppose understandable even though it looks rather incongruous. All the intertitles are from the original play - and further it was Sir James who chose Betty Bronson to play the lead. He noted that she had had a background in ballet with the Fokine company and thought it would be of some assistance.

The presentation of the film lends a lot to the tradition of pantomime as performed in English theatres from Christmas through to Easter, although it is not strictly so. Perhaps the pretend dog is what got me thinking in that direction? "Nana" is quite convincingly played by George Ali who made a career out of acting as animals in stage productions and later in films.

Gladly the film does not go overboard on special effects and thus uses them sparingly. The "flying" of the children is restrained and we only get glimpses of them doing so. Enough to cover the effect. "Tinkerbell" (Virginia Brown Faire) too is effectively presented.

Who else should have played that arch-villain, Captain Hook, other than Ernest Torrence? His villain is all manner of personalities. He is malevolent to men, but courtly to women. He struts with magnificent arrogance and threatening gestures - yet he is a whimpering wreck of a man at times - particularly when he thinks crocodiles may be in his vicinity. Mr. Torrence is elegant and obviously relishing every moment of his performance.

Betty Bronson is captivatingly convincing as Peter Pan. She displays at times a little naivety and certainly adds a great deal of sparkle in her performance overall.

A lot of the beginning of the picture is given over to scenes in the Darling nursery and it is only towards the middle of the picture that we are transported to the Never Never land. Esther Ralston plays Mrs. Darling even though she would probably have only been a few years older than Betty Bronson; and Cyril Chadwick is Mr. Darling. (He seems to have slowly drifted out of pictures, making a couple in 1933 then his last in 1938). The children are Mary Brian as Wendy, Jack Murphy as John and Philippe De Lacy as Michael. The younger ones display the necessary level of cuteness.

Edward Smith in his capacity as Settings Director has contrasted the near realism of the nursery setting to the make believe of the Never Never land scenes which look more akin to stage sets than they do to a degree of reality. However in the way of "The Wizard of Oz's" "Land of Oz" - it is all appropriate.

The print I looked at was in pristine condition. I believe the film was thought lost for many years and it was therefore a terrific stroke of luck that what was eventually found was in such good condition. The enjoyment of the picture was also made that much more so by the carefully composed accompaniment Philip Carli gives leading an orchestra of twenty players.

This is a charming entertainment. Adults can let go of being adult for an hour and a half and give sway to the child within them. Finally, there is another harkening towards a pantomime performance in that Peter Pan approaches the audience at a time when poor Tinkerbell is in a parlous state and needs help. He appeals to the audience that they can help her recover by signifying their belief in faeries by clapping their hands. I did - very loudly.
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Donald Binks

"So, she said: "Elly, it's no use letting Lou have the sherry glasses..."She won't appreciate them,
she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon Oct 16, 2017 9:05 pm

It is indeed a charming film, and one dear to me.

I have to admit, though, that I disagree about the Stage feeling, and lack of utilization of the best Film effects of the time.

I believe it is in one of Ivan Butler's books (or perhaps Kevin Brownlow's?) that the author begins a chapter describing this Silent PETER PAN as if it had been done with THIEF OF BAGDAD-level expertise...

... and then tells us that, alas, that wasn't done in actuality!

By this point in movie history, the camera could have done MORE justice to Barrie's fantasy, than any play. I still love the film, but I think that on that level, it was a missed bet.

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

PostMon Oct 16, 2017 10:51 pm

Peter Pan is a wonderful film.
In the Book, Seductive Cinema:The Art Of Silent Film by James Card, he describes in detail about how he came to rediscover a print of Peter Pan.
Very charming film indeed, and I too still clap for Tinker Bell every time I watch it.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue Oct 17, 2017 9:12 am

Working my way through Eureka's fantastic Early Murnau boxset... next up (after Der Letzte Mann) was Schloss Vogelodd. Or "The Haunted Castle." Not much haunted about the castle and much different a film than Murnau's more famous ones. Schloss Vogelodd (I have no clue how to pronounce that) was more stilted and "fixed" like something out of the 'teens. However, that staging feels somehow deliberate rather than conventional. As a result, it casts the vast empty rooms equal to the characters and I felt somehow more of participants than a simple observer as a result. Anyway, it was a compelling film and something about it sticks with you. The print was excellent!
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue Oct 17, 2017 11:38 am

Catching up with the silent version of HIGH TREASON (1929) was marred by the presentation (YT), so it would be unfair to comment as yet. For the first twenty minutes or so, there is a very irritating accompaniment, which then stops, as if perhaps someone had throttled the conductor. The copy / upload was of very variable quality and then began to freeze repeatedly before cutting out completely before the end titles. Fascinating film, but frustratingly presented.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue Oct 17, 2017 11:58 am

Vem dömer (1922), which is to say Who Judges; but the English name of the film is Love’s Crucible. Intense Swedish drama directed by Victor Sjöstrom, with, notably, Jenny Hasselqvist (The Saga of Gösta Berling, The Hell-Ship), Gösta Eckman (Faust, Intermezzo), Nils Asther (Wild Orchids, Our Dancing Daughters, Vingarne); and Julius Jaenzon (The Phantom Carriage, Sir Arne’s Treasure, The Outlaw and his Wife) at the camera. Striking, intimate film which presents us with the ambiguities of guilt and the power of love; to tell more of the story would spoil your viewing of this powerful but delicately nuanced work. Sensitive performances from all concerned, most especially Miss Hasselqvist in a very difficult role. The thoughtful viewer’s assumptions, notions, and loyalties will be tested throughout, beginning to end, as we’re carried through the tale with Sjöstrom’s characteristically vigorous directing and Jaenzon’s wonderful images. While not a devotional film at all, those of a religious bent will come away from this with an enriched insight into their principles, as will other ethicists. The Swedish name of the film gives the correct focus; “Love’s Crucible” misses the point. Highly recommended.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostWed Oct 18, 2017 10:15 am

On the agenda last night and again tonight is Murnau's Phantom (1922). I finished the first 2 Acts (Murnau loves his "Acts!") which I sense has just been setting the table with warm introductions for what's to come. Needless to say, I'm expecting the story to start taking some strange turns!
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostWed Oct 18, 2017 12:56 pm

A silent version of HOBSON'S CHOICE (1920) might sound an unlikely proposition, but this first film adaptation of Harold Brighouse's play (the middle one from 1931 seems to be lost) is actually rather entertaining and benefits from being given a rather shabby feel to the Lancashire settings.

Joan Ritz (older than the character she plays) is Maggie, the eldest daughter of three who are dominated by their boot-shop owner father. Seen by the old misery-guts as being an 'old maid' and 'left on the shelf', she sets her cap at the lugubrious and unambitious boot-maker Willie Mossop, played by Joe Nightingale, steering the hapless fellow to the altar and financial success. She also manages to help her sisters marry, though receives little gratitude from them when Father's business and health are in danger.

Despite a mute upload, the film provides quite a few chuckles and boasts a spirited performance from Ritz and is in some ways preferable to the later filming by David Lean, which I found rather disappointing the last time I viewed it. A very good copy, too, for such a rarity...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostWed Oct 18, 2017 10:33 pm

Gance's Napoleon (1927). It's a remarkable film.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Oct 20, 2017 1:25 pm

Two from Mr Griffith: THE ROCKY ROAD (1909) tells of a woman and child abandoned by a drunken husband. The wife sets off into the countryside, and dazed, puts the infant down. The little girl is found by the farmer (how he doesn't see the woman is a mystery) and taken indoors. Meanwhile the woman returns to find her little girl missing and collapses.
Years later the daughter is getting married, but the mother, still half mad, turns up...

Rather better was A FLASH OF LIGHT (1910) which starts off in the usual Griffith fishing village. A young man and girl are betrothed. Years later, the fellow in blinded and rendered deaf during an experiment (in which the wife has no interest) and is shabbily treated by the woman, who is anxious for a divorce. She neglects the poor fellow and turns to fair-weather friends and the musical stage for pleasure, while her sister tries to protect him from the news by pretending to be her. Of course nothing is mentioned about what happens at bedtime, but this is quite an absorbing drama, a little reminiscent of THE LIGHT THAT CAME, the year before.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Oct 21, 2017 10:32 am

I'm watching the new DVD "Lon Chaney - Before the Thousand Faces" restored and music by Jon Mirsalis.It's terrific and Jon did a superb job all around. Kudos to Ben Model for putting this out under his Undercrank label. I thought I would never see any "new " Lon Chaney films - another upteenth release of HUNCHBACK or PHANTOM,yes - but not anything truly new. Thank you, Jon and Ben!
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Oct 21, 2017 10:44 am

bobfells wrote:I'm watching the new DVD "Lon Chaney - Before the Thousand Faces" restored and music by Jon Mirsalis.It's terrific and Jon did a superb job all around. Kudos to Ben Model for putting this out under his Undercrank label. I thought I would never see any "new " Lon Chaney films - another upteenth release of HUNCHBACK or PHANTOM,yes - but not anything truly new. Thank you, Jon and Ben!

I'm watching these, too. Never thought I'd have the chance to see any of these. Also received in the mail just yesterday "Triumph" (1917), also with Chaney, truncated as these are because of missing reels, etc., but also with cards explicating all the missing areas; this from Grapevine from this month.

Thanks, Ben for this. And thank you, Jon Mirsalis!
And thank you, Jack Hardy!

Would love to see a giant collection of Chaney like the one done for Fairbanks, Sr. in 2008, "Douglas Fairbanks: A Modern Musketeer" which put the early films together. I know that Warner Brothers released the large collection of a few years ago in the Collection series, but they don't seem interested in doing any of these early ones, or can't release them because they're under another company's auspice.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Oct 21, 2017 10:51 am

R Michael Pyle wrote:
bobfells wrote:I'm watching the new DVD "Lon Chaney - Before the Thousand Faces" restored and music by Jon Mirsalis.It's terrific and Jon did a superb job all around. Kudos to Ben Model for putting this out under his Undercrank label. I thought I would never see any "new " Lon Chaney films - another upteenth release of HUNCHBACK or PHANTOM,yes - but not anything truly new. Thank you, Jon and Ben!

I'm watching these, too. Never thought I'd have the chance to see any of these. Also received in the mail just yesterday "Triumph" (1917), also with Chaney, truncated as these are because of missing reels, etc., but also with cards explicating all the missing areas; this from Grapevine from this month.

Thanks, Ben for this. And thank you, Jon Mirsalis!
And thank you, Jack Hardy!

Would love to see a giant collection of Chaney like the one done for Fairbanks, Sr. in 2008, "Douglas Fairbanks: A Modern Musketeer" which put the early films together. I know that Warner Brothers released the large collection of a few years ago in the Collection series, but they don't seem interested in doing any of these early ones, or can't release them because they're under another company's auspice.


I had just posted Chaney's By the Sun's Rays (1914) on FB with my score.....
Ed Lorusso
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http://www.amazon.com/Edward-Lorusso/e/ ... 203&sr=8-1
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Oct 21, 2017 1:50 pm

drednm wrote:
R Michael Pyle wrote:
bobfells wrote:I'm watching the new DVD "Lon Chaney - Before the Thousand Faces" restored and music by Jon Mirsalis.It's terrific and Jon did a superb job all around. Kudos to Ben Model for putting this out under his Undercrank label. I thought I would never see any "new " Lon Chaney films - another upteenth release of HUNCHBACK or PHANTOM,yes - but not anything truly new. Thank you, Jon and Ben!

I'm watching these, too. Never thought I'd have the chance to see any of these. Also received in the mail just yesterday "Triumph" (1917), also with Chaney, truncated as these are because of missing reels, etc., but also with cards explicating all the missing areas; this from Grapevine from this month.

Thanks, Ben for this. And thank you, Jon Mirsalis!
And thank you, Jack Hardy!

Would love to see a giant collection of Chaney like the one done for Fairbanks, Sr. in 2008, "Douglas Fairbanks: A Modern Musketeer" which put the early films together. I know that Warner Brothers released the large collection of a few years ago in the Collection series, but they don't seem interested in doing any of these early ones, or can't release them because they're under another company's auspice.


I had just posted Chaney's By the Sun's Rays (1914) on FB with my score.....


and on YT

https://youtu.be/k-0TLkCssuA
Ed Lorusso
Writer/Historian
-------------
http://www.amazon.com/Edward-Lorusso/e/ ... 203&sr=8-1
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Oct 21, 2017 5:51 pm

That Triumph (1917) exists in any form is a testament to the enduring interest in its second-billed player, Lon Chaney. It's the melodramatic story of Dorothy Phillips, who longs to be an actress on the legitimate stage. She gains a foothold in Dudley Weyman's company, and soon falls in love with Chaney, a sickly, but aspiring playwright. She convinces Weyman to produce Chaney's play so she can have her triumph, but when he catches them rehearsing a romantic clinch for the show, he stops the production and tells her he will only let the premiere proceed if she will submit to his embraces,

Boo! Hiss! The movie was originally five reels, but the final two reels are missing. Those that survive appear to be standard-issue material from Universal in this period, when it was the busiest studio in the world, and truly a movie factory, turning out five-reel melodramas on a tight budget and schedule. Miss Phillips' performance seems rote, if competent; Mr. Chaney's seems to be a precursor to many of the roles he would play in the late 1920s for MGM; although here he is young enough for the leading lady to fall in love with, he is too ill to be sexually threatening to anyone except the other actors, particularly the pudgy and rapacious Mr. Weyman. It's a movie that fans of Mr. Chaney will want to see, yet, having seen it, will not be honestly feel it adds anything important to the corpus of his work.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Sun Oct 22, 2017 4:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Oct 21, 2017 9:03 pm

boblipton wrote:That Victory (1917) exists in any form is a testament to the enduring interest in its second-billed player, Lon Chaney. It's the melodramatic story of Dorothy Phillips, who longs to be an actress on the legitimate stage. She gains a foothold in Dudley Weyman's company, and soon falls in love with Chaney, a sickly, but aspiring playwright. She convinces Weyman to produce Chaney's play so she can have her triumph, but when he catches them rehearsing a romantic clinch for the show, he stops the production and tells her he will only let the premiere proceed if she will submit to his embraces,

Boo! Hiss! The movie was originally five reels, but the final two reels are missing. Those that survive appear to be standard-issue material from Universal in this period, when it was the busiest studio in the world, and truly a movie factory, turning out five-reel melodramas on a tight budget and schedule. Miss Phillips' performance seems rote, if competent; Mr. Chaney's seems to be a precursor to many of the roles he would play in the late 1920s for MGM; although here he is young enough for the leading lady to fall in love with, he is too ill to be sexually threatening to anyone except the other actors, particularly the pudgy and rapacious Mr. Weyman. It's a movie that fans of Mr. Chaney will want to see, yet, having seen it, will not be honestly feel it adds anything important to the corpus of his work.
Bob


Bob,

I think you mean TRIUMPH.

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

PostSun Oct 22, 2017 3:52 am

bobfells wrote:
boblipton wrote:That Victory (1917) exists in any form is a testament to the enduring interest in its second-billed player, Lon Chaney. It's the melodramatic story of Dorothy Phillips, who longs to be an actress on the legitimate stage. She gains a foothold in Dudley Weyman's company, and soon falls in love with Chaney, a sickly, but aspiring playwright. She convinces Weyman to produce Chaney's play so she can have her triumph, but when he catches them rehearsing a romantic clinch for the show, he stops the production and tells her he will only let the premiere proceed if she will submit to his embraces,

Boo! Hiss! The movie was originally five reels, but the final two reels are missing. Those that survive appear to be standard-issue material from Universal in this period, when it was the busiest studio in the world, and truly a movie factory, turning out five-reel melodramas on a tight budget and schedule. Miss Phillips' performance seems rote, if competent; Mr. Chaney's seems to be a precursor to many of the roles he would play in the late 1920s for MGM; although here he is young enough for the leading lady to fall in love with, he is too ill to be sexually threatening to anyone except the other actors, particularly the pudgy and rapacious Mr. Weyman. It's a movie that fans of Mr. Chaney will want to see, yet, having seen it, will not be honestly feel it adds anything important to the corpus of his work.
Bob


Bob,

I think you mean TRIUMPH.

Bob


Glad you added that, Bob, as I was thinking "I don't recall any of that!" And of course VICTORY was two or three years later...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Oct 22, 2017 4:08 am

After a slightly cluttered start, THE RETURN OF THE RAT (1929, silent with synchronised score) develops into a most enjoyably fruity, if daffy melodrama. Ivor Novello plays a reformed underworld denizen, now married to money-mad Ursula Jeans. A foolish bet at the Paris Grand Prix (hose-racing, not motor-cars) puts Jeans in the clutches of a beastly nobleman, who demands you-know-what in return for her I.O.U. This results in Novello's challenging him to a duel and afterwards spreading the rumours of his death..

In the meantime Novello / 'The Rat' has returned to his former haunt, 'The White Coffin', run by a Hermione Gingold type (Marie Ault), and has fallen for the enchanting Mabel Poulton at the same time as falling foul with knife wielding Morel (Gordon Harker), a fellow who seems to have the locality under his grubby thumb.

Anyone reading this might well think "What tosh!", and of course it is, in a way, as one wonders why Novello seems so anxious to get the small-minded Jeans back when love beckons behind the bar. However, THE RETURN OF THE RAT comes over as a very enjoyable and fast-paced entertainment, helped by lively scoring and cheerful performances. I've not seen the first two instalments of this series, nor have I seen the sound films of the 1930s, but this slice of Parisian low-life, whilst rather unlikely, is worth the watching.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Oct 22, 2017 4:21 am

bobfells wrote:
boblipton wrote:That Victory (1917) exists in any form is a testament to the enduring interest in its second-billed player, Lon Chaney. It's the melodramatic story of Dorothy Phillips, who longs to be an actress on the legitimate stage. She gains a foothold in Dudley Weyman's company, and soon falls in love with Chaney, a sickly, but aspiring playwright. She convinces Weyman to produce Chaney's play so she can have her triumph, but when he catches them rehearsing a romantic clinch for the show, he stops the production and tells her he will only let the premiere proceed if she will submit to his embraces,

Boo! Hiss! The movie was originally five reels, but the final two reels are missing. Those that survive appear to be standard-issue material from Universal in this period, when it was the busiest studio in the world, and truly a movie factory, turning out five-reel melodramas on a tight budget and schedule. Miss Phillips' performance seems rote, if competent; Mr. Chaney's seems to be a precursor to many of the roles he would play in the late 1920s for MGM; although here he is young enough for the leading lady to fall in love with, he is too ill to be sexually threatening to anyone except the other actors, particularly the pudgy and rapacious Mr. Weyman. It's a movie that fans of Mr. Chaney will want to see, yet, having seen it, will not be honestly feel it adds anything important to the corpus of his work.
Bob


Bob,

I think you mean TRIUMPH.

Bob



Eek!

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

PostSun Oct 22, 2017 8:12 am

Just watched THE GOLDEN CHANCE (1915), an early Cecil B DeMille film. Mary Denby (Cleo Ridgely), a seamstress from the slums, gets a chance at a better life when she is employed by a couple that hopes to woo a young millionaire (Wallace Reid) into a lucrative contract. However, unbeknownst to her employers and would-be-suitor, she has a thieving, abusive, drunkard husband (Horace B Carpenter) who complicates things.

The story is generally engaging, although at times somewhat implausible, and with a rather rushed ending. It's hard to see why Ridgely's character would marry such a no-good heel. However, Cleo Ridgely is quite appealing and sympathetic as the heroine, and Wallace Reid smolders and charms very effectively as the debonair millionaire. The acting by all is generally quite restrained and naturalistic, although Carpenter was a bit broad at times.

Director Cecil B DeMille and cinematographer Alvin Wyckoff make a very talented team, imbuing the film with distinctive lighting and shadow effects, as well as intriguing compositions (note the shot where Reid and Ridgeley kiss, which is done with the camera looking down briefly from above). By now they had emerged with a distinctive style, consolidating the successful elements at work in CARMEN and THE CHEAT (which also came out in 1915). A nice film, worth watching for silent movie enthusiasts as well as those who may be new to silent film.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Oct 22, 2017 2:02 pm

A Mother's Atonement (1915): Lon Chaney, in a bushy beard, is getting ready to sell his daughter, Cleo Marsden, to Ben Rothwell; her mother ran off with a city man some years ago and the girl is getting older and it tells on a man. She doesn't care for this, so she sneaks out of the shack while the two old men are plastered on jug whisky and sneaks over to the mainland, where rich people lie around in hammocks. Arthur Shirley is getting serious about her, but his mama thinks her unsuitable, so she ..... associates with other men. The story gets told in clubs, and one of them recalls the mother, also played by Cleo Marsden, and how he and her....

Only first two reels of this Rex movie survive; one can assume that is because Mr. Chaney is not in the last. Despite its incompleteness, the estimable Jon Mirsalis scored and preserved the surviving parts, and for that he is to be thanked. Given the small survival rate of early Chaney, this is a good thing, but even more, is the power of these images. Looking at them, stripped of the titles, they look fairly typical for the previous era, items out of D.W. Griffith or the Girl Spy; yet even with the coy language, what was only physical dangerous, fear of death, becomes sexuality.

Perhaps this has always been lurking beneath the surface, except for a few, brief moments, like the Pre-Code Era (1930-1933) in Hollywood. Perhaps it explains why modern Hollywood movies are so backwards when it comes to sex but forwards when it comes to death if, to the film-makers, they are the same thing.

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

PostMon Oct 23, 2017 2:05 pm

From 1927, DARING DEEDS, has the pleasure-loving son (Billy Sullivan) of an aircraft manufacturer being sacked and told to make his way in the world. Being a flier, he does just that, setting off for fame and fortune with his cigar-chomping mechanic, and landing quite by accident in their rival's airfield. Soon the game is afoot, with spies being dealt with, a romance with the rival's attractive daughter (Molly Malone), and dirty deeds from his father's secretary and the rival father's lawyer (I think). The first half of this possibly cut-down movie suffers from rather too much comic stuff, but fortunately the plot takes over in the second section. Quite unremarkable, unless as an interesting example of a programmer of its time.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon Oct 23, 2017 2:15 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:I had come across the Italian movie ROTAIE / RAILS (1929) in one of my reference books, but had no idea of its availability. Despite the odd difficulty with the titles, it is indeed a remarkable and intense piece of film making. It opens with a young couple entering a run-down hotel. There is clearly something wrong, and the man puts something in a glass of water (abortion? suicide?). The vibrations from a passing train knocks the glass off the table and they leave, heading to the station. A man drops his bulging wallet and the young fellow picks it up, but is too slow to return it. What to do? Off to the Riviera / Monte Carlo and the 'high life'...

Simply told, and engrossing, this is a story of disillusionment, with ironic commentary on the 'high life' some of the characters lead and others aspire to. Non-familiarity with the leading players helps, and we are shown the attraction and falsity of what the Riviera has to offer as well as a positive attitude to the honest working man as opposed to the parasites and lounge lizards who take advantage of the vulnerable. Silent with an added music and effects track.


I caught this at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival a few years back, and was bowled over by it. Where did you see it?

As I recall, the young couple arrived in Rome were eloping, marrying against their parents wishes, or at least that's the impression I got. I've long wanted to revisit this.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue Oct 24, 2017 12:55 pm

Roscoe wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:I had come across the Italian movie ROTAIE / RAILS (1929) in one of my reference books, but had no idea of its availability. Despite the odd difficulty with the titles, it is indeed a remarkable and intense piece of film making. It opens with a young couple entering a run-down hotel. There is clearly something wrong, and the man puts something in a glass of water (abortion? suicide?). The vibrations from a passing train knocks the glass off the table and they leave, heading to the station. A man drops his bulging wallet and the young fellow picks it up, but is too slow to return it. What to do? Off to the Riviera / Monte Carlo and the 'high life'...

Simply told, and engrossing, this is a story of disillusionment, with ironic commentary on the 'high life' some of the characters lead and others aspire to. Non-familiarity with the leading players helps, and we are shown the attraction and falsity of what the Riviera has to offer as well as a positive attitude to the honest working man as opposed to the parasites and lounge lizards who take advantage of the vulnerable. Silent with an added music and effects track.


I caught this at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival a few years back, and was bowled over by it. Where did you see it?

As I recall, the young couple arrived in Rome were eloping, marrying against their parents wishes, or at least that's the impression I got. I've long wanted to revisit this.


I watched it on YouTube - it's still there!
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