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

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
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Christopher Jacobs

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

PostSat Feb 25, 2017 2:05 pm

Last night I watched the obscure Truart William Fairbanks western THE COWBOY AND THE FLAPPER (1924) and the equally obscure Hi-Mark action-comedy-melodrama-romance THE THRILL SEEKERS (1927), via the nice new Blu-ray editions put out by Grapevine Video. Neither comes close to being a classic, but both are fun for fans of silent program pictures, the kind of thing that would usually turn up at a Cinefest to fill an hour time slot. I hope to have a somewhat more thorough review ready to post in the "Old Movies in HD" thread sometime early next week.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Feb 26, 2017 8:42 am

The copy of Rex Ingram's THE THREE PASSIONS (1928 or 1929) is a little hard to evaluate fairly as it had German intertitles which were all but impossible for me to understand properly. In addition, I have no idea how complete the copy was as it lasts just over an hour, and was apparently lost until quite recently.

That said, the film is a very striking one indeed. Shayle Gardner plays a self-made shipyard owner whose Oxford-educated son (Ivan Petrovich) is uninterested in following him into the business. His wife, too (Claire Eames), is a disappointment and spends her time gallivanting about with younger chaps. The son spends a great deal of his time in night-clubs (some splendidly shot scenes here) and is vaguely attached to a titled lady played by Alice Terry.

His Damascene moment comes when he witnesses the death of one of the workers and the dreadful effect it has on the poor fellow's family. Ructions follow a bit later when (after listening to a religious lecture) he decides to take Orders in addition to helping out at a seamen's mission peopled by a gang of plug-uglies including the villainous Andrews Engelmann, who was so effective in DIARY OF A LOST GIRL.

Father then decides to send Terry to work at the mission in order to bring his son back into the fold. But, when alone, Engelmann makes a pass at her, becoming increasingly violent, but luckily... Meanwhile, there is the threat of a strike at the yard, and....

Admittedly the ending is a little hurried and unsatisfactory in parts, but what counts here is the atmosphere, which is superbly drawn whether dealing with the works or the clubs and low-life mission. I was reminded of something when the religious theme crept in and it turned out to be I'LL GIVE MY LIFE / UNFINISHED TASK, with Ray Collins as the businessman father furious at his son's determination, in that particular instance. It would be nice to see this with English titles and a music track, although I think there is - or was - a copy available to buy online.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Feb 26, 2017 9:42 am

I've got a pretty nice copy (from a private source) that has all the British intertitles, and I don't remember it being too much out-of-joint because of lacking materials, though there were some. I watched this nearly ten years ago now, and I went back to my notes and found I really, really liked it a lot.

I wrote this review of it back in 2009:

"...I watched something that really makes me excited to talk about. It's "The Three Passions" (1928), directed by Rex Ingram and starring his wife Alice Terry, along with Iván Petrovich, Shayle Gardner (who literally steals the show - he's fantastic!), Clare Eames, and others. Were I a high school teacher, and suddenly I needed to discuss the meaning of 'pathos', I think I could show this film and do a creditable job. I'm not sure I've ever seen a show where pathos is more evocative than in this film. There are moments where, in other films, it would be irony that comes about, but Ingram instead chooses to use front-on pathos to illuminate the idea of what he calls 'the three passions', namely, ambition, greed, and lust for power. What IS ironic is that the passions arose in some of these characters due to lack, such lack that the only way they saw rising above it was with these same passions, but, evidently, the passions took over. It becomes very evident in the wife of the owner of the shipyard, played by Clare Eames, in one of the finest evocations of twenties cabaret decadence I've ever seen portrayed on film. Her scenes constantly reminded me of the same kind of portrayals evident in "Pandora's Box", made the year after this in Germany. Another facet of this film which simply captivates - no matter whether you like the film and its themes or not! - is the stunning photography. The cinematographer was Léonce-Henri Burel, and his vision, no doubt taken at the instance of Rex Ingram, is breathtaking. The visuals in the shipyard capture the early twentieth century's overpowering lust for size in technology, huge revolving piston wheels made of steel and iron, men dwarfed by their own abilty to create driving forces that overshadow the very men who made them, and so forth. Burel's sense of exquisite taste - and large at that - shows in his capturing the home of the shipyard owner, too. It is magnificent in its rich detail and intricate finery. Ingram doesn't miss a trick here. The owner supposedly came from nothing, was once a dock worker, now owns the shipyard, and his home is the finest one could possibly have in England - English taste just post Victorian and Edwardian, and it's really something out of a dream. One other thing that was wholly remarkable was the group of actors chosen to play the characters in a seaman's mission where they go to get food and shelter. They looked like characters out of a Dickens novel, and not one of them was made up. They were for real. Incredible faces; noses; attitudes! Films today just don't have characters like these. The plot is altogether one of the period, too; not altogether realizable, either, one that takes the decadence of the period and tries to shake it off the shoulders of the son of the shipyard owner, a son raised in the full of it, and then turn the son into a priest! Well, this occurs, much to the chagrin - and that's definitely not the genuine word! - of his father, his girl friend and possibly fiance, and his friends at Oxford University, where the son is in his final year. The plot has holes, but it works anyway. In today's jaded world it is not realistic, but the direction and acting make up for all of that in spades. By the way, the scenes in Oxford, England are revelatory, too. Oxford Street without much traffic is nearly comical compared to what it is today. 1928 was definitely another world. Acting honors go to Shayle Gardner who plays the father and owner of the shipyard and to Clare Eames who plays his incredibly lustful, shrewish, and unfaithful wife. Both are so realistic in their portrayals as to make me wish to go back and watch them again. They were truly great. Both Iván Petrovich and Alice Terry are quite wonderful, and they are the driving force for the plot, but their characters are never as strong as the parents of the young man played by Petrovich. I could go on and on. Suffice it to say that I never cease to be amazed at the quality inherent in a Rex Ingram directed film. I'm really glad I had this opportunity. It's a rarely found or seen film..."
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon Feb 27, 2017 1:40 pm

Wasn't so much out-of-joint as being so brief. A fascinating film and will add to the ever-growing list for getting a better copy...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon Feb 27, 2017 2:42 pm

Karin Ingmarsdotter (1920). Directed by Victor Sjöström, and starring Tora Teje (whom habitués of Swedish silents will remember from Erotikon and Klostret i Sendomir), Tor Weijden (Körkarlen/The Phantom Carriage), and Nils Aréhn (Körkarlen, Berg-ejvind och hans hustru/The Outlaw and his Wife), with Sjöström in a secondary role. We continue the saga from Ingmarssönerna with the next generation. The titular Karin has a favored suitor who is just fine, with the sole dark cloud being that his father is a sot. Stuff happens, and Karin tells her suitor that, no, I don’t want you anymore. Another suitor, from a very sober family, comes along, and Karin marries him. Well, other stuff happens; and husband proves to be considerably worse than suitor #1 had been, being such a hellion that he even plays the—the sensitive among us may wish to skip over the next word—accordion. Oh noes! Meanwhile, Ingmar has had a striking encounter with a log, and suitor #1 anguishes from afar. Despite my japes, this is actually a very touching film—perhaps not as deeply so as with any of the above-named, but still we are presented with crises of principle, rather sophisticated personal anguish, and the workings of Fate and indeed the Deity. Without exception well-acted in the natural rather than the old theatrical manner, with some beautiful camera work. In both of these Ingmar films (and even more so The Phantom Carriage), it is easy to see seeds sown which germinated in Ingmar Bergman’s films decades later.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostWed Mar 01, 2017 1:09 pm

Rosita (1923). Starring Mary Pickford, George Walsh, Holbrook Blinn, and Irene Rich, with Snitz Edwards; directed by Ernst Lubitsch. Lighthearted historical romp, with Miss Pickford as a Seville street singer who catches the eye of the adulterous king. This is one of those pleasant movies that, though adequately entertaining, never quite seems to come alive. Mary throws herself into her role as a pert beggar-chanteuse (I was somewhat reminded of her part in Kiki); but (whatever the king in this movie might think) “pert” is not the same as “charming,” and she does not have the sensual allure that the story requires. Her love interest George Walsh does not have much to do; and the interaction between the two is minimal (though Lubitsch subtly lets those who understand the Lubitsch touch know exactly what happened between our lovers the night before the “execution”); had more footage been expended on developing their relationship, I think the movie would have been enriched exponentially. Holbrook Blinn is appropriately creepily lecherous as the king; and Irene Rich gives us a knowing queen who can handle matters herself quite well, thank you very much. Production values are high, and the tale is written with care and a sprinkling of comic as well as touching moments. Mary apparently didn’t like the film; but it is not at all bad, just not having the overall excellence that she and we expect. Worth a viewing, maybe two.
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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]

PostWed Mar 01, 2017 1:31 pm

odinthor wrote:Rosita (1923). Starring Mary Pickford, George Walsh, Holbrook Blinn, and Irene Rich, with Snitz Edwards; directed by Ernst Lubitsch. Lighthearted historical romp, with Miss Pickford as a Seville street singer who catches the eye of the adulterous king. This is one of those pleasant movies that, though adequately entertaining, never quite seems to come alive. Mary throws herself into her role as a pert beggar-chanteuse (I was somewhat reminded of her part in Kiki); but (whatever the king in this movie might think) “pert” is not the same as “charming,” and she does not have the sensual allure that the story requires. Her love interest George Walsh does not have much to do; and the interaction between the two is minimal (though Lubitsch subtly lets those who understand the Lubitsch touch know exactly what happened between our lovers the night before the “execution”); had more footage been expended on developing their relationship, I think the movie would have been enriched exponentially. Holbrook Blinn is appropriately creepily lecherous as the king; and Irene Rich gives us a knowing queen who can handle matters herself quite well, thank you very much. Production values are high, and the tale is written with care and a sprinkling of comic as well as touching moments. Mary apparently didn’t like the film; but it is not at all bad, just not having the overall excellence that she and we expect. Worth a viewing, maybe two.


Mary hired Lubitsch to direct this film without ever having met him. As soon as they met, they both instantly knew it was a mistake: they were just incompatible control-freaks. They agreed to go ahead and make the damned thing to get it out of the way and move on in their separate paths, so that accounts for the rather indifferent quality of the thing.

The results did some damage to Mary's box-office status from which her career never really recovered. On the other hand, with this film in his oeuvre Lubitsch was now established in Hollywood and he was able to go on to have a modest little career there. :wink:

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

PostThu Mar 02, 2017 1:18 pm

A HIGHLAND MAID / A LOWLAND CINDERELLA (1921) was made in Shoreham, Sussex, by Sidney Morgan and starring his daughter Joan. It tells of a girl whose father (thought dead) returns from Burma to bestow some of his wealth on her before returning to claim his rights to a mine. Aside from one, the rubies are given in trust to her grandmother for safekeeping. Within the year, Grandma has died, and the grasping relatives come on the scene. The chief crook, a doctor (Charles Levey) is at first disappointed, then finds the rubies and note, the latter of which he destroys when relieving the poor girl of her inheritance. He also believes the father to be dead...

After years of prosperity (slightly mysterious as he still has the gems), this noxious family take on the girl as a paid slave, intending to humiliate her on top of their filthy tricks. A very pleasing story, well told, and with considerable charm. With WHERE THERE'S A WILL (1955) that makes two films in a row with nasty relatives, though the ones in this one are far more vicious.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostThu Mar 02, 2017 2:44 pm

The Three Passions is around with English subs.

I watched The Sky Pilot (1921) which I hadn't seen in years. Directed by King Vidor, this Western involves a preacher from back east (John Bowers) who arrives in a Western town to preach at people and is promptly thrown out. He is befriended by a cowpoke (David Butler ... later a well-established film director) and becomes part of the community. In a subplot, cattle rustlers are trying to steal cows from the rancher Butler and Bowers word for. After they foil the plans, the bad men burn down the church. In the meantime, Colleen Moore (pre-flapper) plays the daughter of a religion hater. She gets paralyzed in a stampede but by Christmas time when everyone gathers at the church, all the plot threads com together. Well enough done by all concerned. But as I noted in my 2009 review on IMDb, this old copy from VHS has a truly annoying accordion music track with some guy singing. MUTE!

Has this ever been released in any other version?
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostThu Mar 02, 2017 5:16 pm

Was that the Critic's Choice version?
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostThu Mar 02, 2017 9:20 pm

Saint-Just wrote:Was that the Critic's Choice version?


Yes. Some rough jumps (missing footage?) and several too-fast intertitles. From the days before these films were restored before being marketed (apparently).
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Mar 03, 2017 8:00 am

Well, I finally got around to watching my copy of Children of Divorce. In a rarity, my wife decided to join me and was half watching along.

I thought for the most part it was good but if not for Clara Bow, the film would've been quite forgettable. Gary Cooper had apparently not quite learned to act yet (his upset reaction was laughable and looked more like he was needing some laxatives rather than being upset about being married.)

Maybe it was just me, but I saw some parallels to the Pre-Code classic Three on a Match. Certainly a very different story but a lot of the same themes going through.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Mar 03, 2017 1:29 pm

drednm wrote:The Three Passions is around with English subs.

I watched The Sky Pilot (1921) which I hadn't seen in years. Directed by King Vidor, this Western involves a preacher from back east (John Bowers) who arrives in a Western town to preach at people and is promptly thrown out. He is befriended by a cowpoke (David Butler ... later a well-established film director) and becomes part of the community. In a subplot, cattle rustlers are trying to steal cows from the rancher Butler and Bowers word for. After they foil the plans, the bad men burn down the church. In the meantime, Colleen Moore (pre-flapper) plays the daughter of a religion hater. She gets paralyzed in a stampede but by Christmas time when everyone gathers at the church, all the plot threads com together. Well enough done by all concerned. But as I noted in my 2009 review on IMDb, this old copy from VHS has a truly annoying accordion music track with some guy singing. MUTE!

Has this ever been released in any other version?


Is this the same one as is on YT with 'music by R S Pearson'?
And BAROUD (1932), Ingram's last film, is on YouTube also...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Mar 03, 2017 2:49 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Is this the same one as is on YT with 'music by R S Pearson'?


I feel like I can be pretty open minded but that was awful!
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Mar 04, 2017 1:59 pm

Battra92 wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Is this the same one as is on YT with 'music by R S Pearson'?


I feel like I can be pretty open minded but that was awful!


Watched THE SKY PILOT last night and agree that the music track was particularly irritating and unsuitable for such a film. Why they did this is beyond me as THE SKY PILOT is an interesting and watchable movie, even if one has to take the religious content with a pinch of salt.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Mar 04, 2017 2:23 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
Battra92 wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Is this the same one as is on YT with 'music by R S Pearson'?


I feel like I can be pretty open minded but that was awful!


Watched THE SKY PILOT last night and agree that the music track was particularly irritating and unsuitable for such a film. Why they did this is beyond me as THE SKY PILOT is an interesting and watchable movie, even if one has to take the religious content with a pinch of salt.


The music on my copy from an ancient VHS is an accordion (or an organ that sounds like an accordion) with some guy breaking out into song at various places. Beyond irritating. But I like the film and the location shooting. David Butler is quite good.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Mar 05, 2017 4:59 am

Clearly a different 'score', although this too seems taken from VHS and looks like the same print which was on YT some time back...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon Mar 06, 2017 9:32 am

Two from Netflix: Moana (with sound) (1926) and The Daughter of Dawn (1920)

Moana is esentially docufiction, capturing a way of life in the Samoan Islands that had already basically disappeared by the time the film was made. Flaherty cast photogenic locals into certain roles, and included many details of life such as hunting, gathering food, making clothing, and the tatooing ritual. The cinematography is quite beautiful. I was initially a bit skeptical about Moana having audio accompaniment, but when I started to watch it, I saw that it worked beautifully. The sound was added by Monica Flaherty, director Robert Flaherty's daughter. A quote in the beginning shows that Flaherty's wife Frances wished that the sound of the locals' singing could have been incorporated into the original film.

The Daughter of Dawn (1920) features an all-Native American cast. The story is essentially a love triangle. The chief's daughter loves a young brave who has few possessions, but is good and kind. However, an older man with more possessions seeks to marry the chief's daughter in order to secure power for himself. A test of love reveals the older man to be a coward, but he decides to exact revenge by allying himself with the rival Comanches. It's nice to see life among the Native Americans portrayed with realism, not as "noble savages" or just plain savage villains, but as people. The acting is pretty restrained and naturalistic, which is especially remarkable considering that the cast were not professional actors. The cinematography is pretty solid, effectively capturing the vast plains and a buffalo hunt. Both films are definitely worth checking out.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostWed Mar 08, 2017 8:36 pm

Watched The Racket (1928) last night, Howard Hughes-produced gangster film with Thomas Meighan as straight-and-narrow Capt. McQuigg and Louis Wolheim as notorious crime boss Nick Scarsi. Lots of action and some great character parts for Marie Prevost, Skeets Gallagher and George E. Stone, among others. TCM shows a fine looking restoration courtesy of Flicker Alley and the holders of the Hughes collection at the University of Nevada. I believe this was issued on DVD for a split second along with Two Arabian Knights (also with Wolheim, shame he died a few years later while in rehearsals for The Front Page), before they were pulled from circulation. At least TCM is able to show both films every now and then.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Mar 11, 2017 6:26 pm

In Beauty's Worth (1922), Marion Davies is a contemporary Quaker girl raised by dour aunts in an unworldly fashion. She wants to be wed to Hallam Cooley, whom she has loved since they were children together When Cooley's mother invites her to stay with them at the posh resort of Haven, she goes, dressed like a Dutch doll. Everyone thinks she is a plain, stupid thing, except for perceptive artist Forrest Stanley -- and the movie's audience, of course. She is called upon by the snobby clothes horses at the resort to persuade Stanley to design an elaborate game of Charades for them. He agrees on condition she appear in the Charades in costumes he designs; he will also design an ensemble for her, and guarantees Cooley will propose. When Cooley does....

The modern movie-goer will recognize this sort of movie from examples like The Princess Diaries, in which gorgeous Ann Hathaway is made to look like all the other well-groomed rich people, and suddenly she is beautiful. Sandra Bullock has also appeared in a number of these, like Two Weeks Notice and Miss Congeniality. This is a well-produced example of the genre. The highlights are the scene of the Charades, with Miss Davies appearing in exotic costumes on a lavish set designed by Joseph Urban; and the scene in which Lydia Yeamans Titus, playing Miss Davies' Quaker servant gets drunk.

I had the pleasure of seeing this movie on a dvd produced by Ed Lorusso with a fine organ score by Ben Model. Ed's earlier dvd productions of silent movies have been very successful and have shown up on Turner Classic Movies' Silent Sundays slot. Let us hope they have the sense to do the same for this one.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Mar 11, 2017 7:03 pm

boblipton wrote:In Beauty's Worth (1922), Marion Davies is a contemporary Quaker girl raised by dour aunts in an unworldly fashion. She wants to be wed to Hallam Cooley, whom she has loved she they were children together When Cooley's mother invites her to stay with them at the posh resort of Haven, she goes, dressed like a Dutch doll. Everyone thinks she is a plain, stupid thing, except for perceptive artist Forrest Stanley -- and the movie's audience, of course. She is called upon by the snobby clothes horses at the resort to persuade Stanley to design an elaborate game of Charades for them. He agrees on condition she appear in the Charades in costumes he designs; he will also design an ensemble for her, and guarantees Cooley will propose. When Cooley does....

The modern movie-goer will recognize this sort of movie from examples like The Princess Diaries, in which gorgeous Ann Hathaway is made to look like all the other well-groomed rich people, and suddenly she is beautiful. Sandra Bullock has also appeared in a number of these, like Two Weeks Notice and Miss Congeniality. This is a well-produced example of the genre. The highlights are the scene of the Charades, with Miss Davies appearing in exotic costumes on a lavish set designed by Joseph Urban; and the scene in which Lydia Yeamans Titus, playing Miss Davies' Quaker servant gets drunk.

I had the pleasure of seeing this movie on a dvd produced by Ed Lorusso with a fine organ score by Ben Model. Ed's earlier dvd productions of silent movies have been very successful and have shown up on Turner Classic Movies' Silent Sundays slot. Let us hope they have the sense to do the same for this one.

Bob


Thanks.... Did you notice the cuts to Davies' shimmy? There were no such frames missing anywhere else in the film. Puritans!
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Mar 12, 2017 9:12 am

Battra92 wrote:I thought for the most part it was good but if not for Clara Bow, the film would've been quite forgettable. Gary Cooper had apparently not quite learned to act yet (his upset reaction was laughable and looked more like he was needing some laxatives rather than being upset about being married.)


I'm afraid I have to agree with your comments here and Bob's in last year's thread. This is not a very good film. it is beautifully photographed and the new bluray showcases this well, but the plot is quite uninteresting. It reminded me of one of those tedious European silents in which I am supposed to care about the minor trials and tribulations of some Lord Snooty or other. Clara Bow stands out, but I think she was totally miscast here. All that Gary Cooper seems capable of is a permanent "blue steel" pout. Great restoration, shame about the film.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Mar 12, 2017 10:11 am

Arndt wrote:
Battra92 wrote:I thought for the most part it was good but if not for Clara Bow, the film would've been quite forgettable. Gary Cooper had apparently not quite learned to act yet (his upset reaction was laughable and looked more like he was needing some laxatives rather than being upset about being married.)


I'm afraid I have to agree with your comments here and Bob's in last year's thread. This is not a very good film. it is beautifully photographed and the new bluray showcases this well, but the plot is quite uninteresting. It reminded me of one of those tedious European silents in which I am supposed to care about the minor trials and tribulations of some Lord Snooty or other. Clara Bow stands out, but I think she was totally miscast here. All that Gary Cooper seems capable of is a permanent "blue steel" pout. Great restoration, shame about the film.

I guess I'm the odd-man-out - as usual, as usual, as usual. I thought the way the "divorce" attitude was handled was rather realistic among the 20's leisure class. I thought the acting about and around it was just ducky. Really liked the film...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Mar 12, 2017 1:48 pm

Produced in and around Bournemouth (South-West England) by the local film club, RETRIBUTION (1931) is an amateur crime story running just over fifteen minutes and tells of an unfaithful wife whose husband is due to be executed for the lover's murder. Fortunately (as she has decided she loves her husband after all) they have a policeman friend who clears things up after finding a couple of clues which not only were missed by the Bow Street Runners, but included a scrap of paper which hadn't been destroyed by the elements. Certainly of local (and family) interest, with the technical staff appearing at the end.

This film is on BFI Player, which is showing commendable zeal in making such films available as well as bigger stuff.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Mar 12, 2017 4:07 pm

I first saw Charlie Chaplin's "The Gold Rush" (1925) when I was about 8 or 9 and I most probably viewed a re-presentation of the 1942 re-issue which had the narration. Since then, apart from excerpts in series such as "Hollywood", I have not had the chance to make a re-acquaintance with the film until now.

I have to say that I have not watched much of Sir Charles' repertoire - apart from "City Lights" or "The Circus" over the years as I just don't find them as funny as when I watched them all as a child. Perhaps I had over-exposure or my tastes have changed? So, I put "The Gold Rush" on rather tentatively, fully expecting I would not enjoy it all that much.

Well, I have to say that I found the film thoroughly enjoyable and a real treat. So much for my preconceived thoughts.

The one thing that I find with Sir Charles' later feature films is the finesse with which they are made. Each is finely crafted, and, knowing as we do now, that he took take after take in order to achieve perfection, one can easily see why one feels this way.

He also preached from the screen as did D.W. Griffith - although he was much more subtle. His tramp was a down-trodden, working class character whom everyone poked fun at, but Sir Charles taught us that we should not judge all books by the cover, for within the soul of the tramp was a kindhearted and loving man who had never lost sight of his dignity. It is this maintenance of dignity in a costume that does not assist it, that forms the very essence of the tragic-comedy in his films.

I liked the way the gags were set up, more often than not providing the unexpected which ticked the funny-bone more than something that could have been expected. Sir Charles too was masterful in his direction of the audience's emotions. He could turn a moment of serious plaintiveness around in an instant and have us all moving from tears to laughter in a split second.

Sir Charles had a stock company, some of his players in later films had been with him from virtually the beginning - such as Mack Swain and Henry Bergman. Obviously they knew what was required of them and were thus able to make contributions to the films that were rich and rewarding. On the other hand, Sir Charles had a penchant for taking a virtually unknown and casting her as his leading lady. In "The Gold Rush" he apparently wanted to cast Lita Grey in the role of "Georgia" but she had become in the family way so, having seen the Paramount picture "The Salvation Hunters" with Georgia Hale he decided on her in lieu. She plays her part well with a coyness and definite charm.

There is so much to be had in this film. It never falters and the pace never slackens. Everything is on the screen for the right amount of time and the story is clearly defined. There is a bit of everything really and there are scenes that have now become classic - such as the dance of the bread rolls for instance.

I was glad to have seen the 2003 restoration, which restores the "silent version" as was first shown in 1925. The effervescent accompaniment is by Neal Brand on piano and he goes out of his way to match the mood of the film completely. The notes suggest that he researched the airs that were mostly utilised in 1925 performances and it shows what an old fuddy-duddy I am, as I knew nearly all of them - such as "I dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls", "Loch Lomond", "In Chambre Separee" and "Fascination" - the last of which I had thought was a song of the 1930's - but which I later found out was actually originally a waltz - “Valse Tzigane”, written in 1904. So I learned something.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostWed Mar 15, 2017 5:05 am

Watched a cut-down 2-reel version of Week-End Wives (1929), one of the last gasps of British silent cinema. It's a marital romp in which a bored lawyer (Jameson Thomas) plans an illicit weekend with a client (Estelle Brody) at the seaside, but wifey (Annette Benson) has plans of her own and ends up in the same seaside town with an innocent (Monty Banks) in tow. This was probably a decent film in full form, but in this version all the subtlety has been cut away, leaving the pratfalls and awkward meetings without the context.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostWed Mar 15, 2017 10:08 am

The Sea Beast (1926) directed by Millard Webb and starring John Barrymore and Dolores Costello. This version of the famous Moby Dick story accomplishes the seemingly impossible task of making Herman Melville's great novel a bore. The first several reels detail little more than Barrymore and Costello pining away for each other. By the time a bit of action occurs in later reels, you have to rouse yourself from a stupor. The print we watched was a battered dupe, which, admittedly, threw the entire presentation into a nightmarish glare of washed out faces and image jitter so extreme that it seemed like the entire film was photographed from a truck moving down a cobblestone road.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostThu Mar 16, 2017 6:46 am

Since there was so much talk about it, I decided to hunt down a copy of August Blom's Atlantis. It was certainly not what I expected. Based on the time period and what I've heard of the film I was expecting a sort of Titanic story; not a sunken ship with an hour left to go on the movie. Still, for what it was, it wasn't bad.

The only complaint I really do have is the length. At just under two hours I had to watch it in stages. During the blizzard we had on Tuesday here in the Northeast US I was able to watch part of it while my toddler napped but couldn't finish the second half of the movie until last night after she had gone to bed.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostThu Mar 16, 2017 9:27 am

David Menefee wrote:The Sea Beast (1926) directed by Millard Webb and starring John Barrymore and Dolores Costello. This version of the famous Moby Dick story accomplishes the seemingly impossible task of making Herman Melville's great novel a bore. The first several reels detail little more than Barrymore and Costello pining away for each other. By the time a bit of action occurs in later reels, you have to rouse yourself from a stupor. The print we watched was a battered dupe, which, admittedly, threw the entire presentation into a nightmarish glare of washed out faces and image jitter so extreme that it seemed like the entire film was photographed from a truck moving down a cobblestone road.

I've seen the same battered copy but came away more impressed with what I saw than disappointed.
The 'live' whale hunts were fascinating as was watching the blubber being boiled on the ship in the ocean. Those scenes of the ship being tossed in the storm are perhaps more thrilling in this than in the 1930 talkie. As I remember, this was the story where it's his own brother Derick who pushes Ahab Ceeley into the ocean. The whale attacking Ahab and the rescue that followed were thrilling for a 1926 film. When Moby Dick sounded, causing the whaling boat to be pulled under (tossing the men), I wondered how they could have achieved such a simple effect? It's much harder to do then it looks.
There's a (HD) copy on YouTube that runs, 133 minutes but don't think that means it will be a better image. It's not. It's the same copy as mine which is 100 minutes long. The scores are different but I prefer my original after watching parts of the other.
https://search.aol.com/aol/video?q=the+ ... -searchbox

My copy also included a short extra on the making of the film, showing director Millard Webb shouting "Cut" in his megaphone as Dolores Costello and Barrymore continue kissing. Barrymore married Costello shortly after this film was finished.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostThu Mar 16, 2017 1:08 pm

I'd never seen von Sternberg's DOCKS OF NEW YORK, though I recall it being highly spoken of as far back as in the estimable TWENTIES installment of the pb "International Film Guide Series." This weekend, I came it across by accident on one of the NYC Digital channels.

The Wife and I both liked it very much. Beautifully shot - but not in a way that undercut the grit of the setting & story. Well acted, especially by Compson and Baclanova (Bancroft teetered on the edge of Popeye...) A moving, memorable tale, well told.

Now, to catch up with THE DRAG NET and UNDERWORLD.

-Craig
Last edited by wich2 on Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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