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

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

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

PostTue Nov 28, 2017 7:57 am

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

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



It's become a standard trope. You might also cite Private Benjamin.

Bob
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue Nov 28, 2017 10:20 am

That dynamic likely dates from at least Roman Legion days!
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earlytalkiebuffRob

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

PostFri Dec 01, 2017 1:31 pm

A Russian comedy from 1928, THE DOLL WITH THE MILLIONS, starts of promisingly enough, but overall was rather a mixed blessing. Starting with a horde of relatives waiting for a wealthy Parisian lady to hand in her dinner-pail, a bombshell is dropped when it is revealed that her fortune has been left to an obscure niece. Two cousins, one a tailor's dummy and a rather clownish fellow begin the hunt, for the girl's birth certificate is hidden in a doll. Some of this business is rather unconvincing, with the random destruction of dolls having a rather nasty air to it. The clownish one (Paul) becomes rather tiresome after a while, whist the fastidious one (Pierre) is a little one-note.

Odd gags amuse, and Galina Kravchenko, who plays Paul's man-eater of a girlfriend is effective, as is Ada Vojtsik, as the athletic, scientific-minded and altruistic beneficiary of the will. The film sometimes seems a little muddled in spots, particularly near the end. Another of those films one would have wished to have liked more.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon Dec 04, 2017 2:53 pm

Well, technically not the last silent film I watched, but, for me it was the most recent previously unseen silent film. This would have been The Last Man on Earth (1924) which screened this weekend at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival "Day of Silents."

I absolutely loved this film. It was witty and knee slapping, laff out loud fun. Loosely based on Mary Shelly's book The Last Man (which I now must read), no doubt accent on the "loosely." The film opens with a rural scene showing Elmer and Hattie, poor Elmer too shy to express his admiration and love for the girl, she a little haughty and gives no time for him. Years pass and Elmer now and adult has not changed, he still moons for her and gets the gumption to propose marriage. She rejects him, not if "he were the last man on earth." He resolves to be done with women and gets into his handily close by plane and flies off never to return. 10 years pass, it is now 1950 and all men over the age of 14 have died from the "Masculitis" disease. Women now rule the world, young boys are treated like royalty, and women's fashion is part Revolutionary war, part chorus girl and utterly fantastic. The President is a cat lady, the Senatoresses rule Capitol Hill, and the gangsters are all on the hunt searching the world for the last man on earth. Frisco Kate find him, brings him back and auctions him off to the highest bidder (the U.S. Government) and the Senatoress's from California and Virginia fight in an epic boxing match on the Senate floor to see who will be the winner to take him home. (Spoiler: California wins). In the meantime, Hattie, having had years to nurse her regrets makes her way to see the match, Elmer and Hattie's eyes meet and they have their happy ending after all. No idea what happened if the "masculitis" disease was cured. I hate loose ends! I cannot find a photo of it, but, I was not the only woman in the audience who thought the cocktail shaker used in the gangster bar brilliant.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon Dec 04, 2017 2:57 pm

I reviewed this earlier this year, as well as its sound remake, It's Good to Be Alive on the What's the Last Movie You Watched thread over in talkies.

Bob
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Dec 08, 2017 1:49 pm

Despite a slightly blurry start to this upload, BARBED WIRE (1927) was a very impressive and moving film indeed. Although the original novel, Hall Caine's 'The Woman of Knockaloe' was set on the Isle of Man, the action of BARBED WIRE is transferred to France. Pola Negri plays the daughter of farmer Claude Gillingwater whose farm is commandeered by the government to supply food to the local POWs. Negri's hatred for the Germans is tempered by her father's loathing of war, but things start to stir when prisoner Clive Brook is sent to replace of of their new workers who has died from what seems like consumption.

Negri then angers the locals when she places a wreath on the fellow's grave as well as becoming involved with Brook. There are too many plot turns to detail here, but the film emphasises that losses were suffered on both sides, as well as featuring the narrow-minded attitudes of many of the locals.

Negri and Brook are both very good indeed, and there is nice support from Gustav von Seyffertitz as a local farmer who fancies Negri as well as Clyde Cook as his entertainer friend. The latter's performance is well integrated into the drama and offers some nice bits of comedy. Intense and powerful, BARBED WIRE is a worthy addition to the roll of WWI movies, and shows what can be done with potentially maudlin material. Directed by Rowland V Lee with photography by Bert Glennon, and with a well-balanced musical accompaniment.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Dec 08, 2017 7:38 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Despite a slightly blurry start to this upload, BARBED WIRE (1927) was a very impressive and moving film indeed.


The intense and powerful conclusion surely left audiences in tears, I know that's what I experienced all these years later. It surely was more impactful in 1927.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Dec 09, 2017 2:03 pm

Big Silent Fan wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Despite a slightly blurry start to this upload, BARBED WIRE (1927) was a very impressive and moving film indeed.


The intense and powerful conclusion surely left audiences in tears, I know that's what I experienced all these years later. It surely was more impactful in 1927.


Yes, same here. Excellent film.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Dec 10, 2017 10:52 am

From time to time I look through my list of DVDs (I've seen them all) and revisit one which doesn't seem familiar from it's title. Today it was "Proud Flesh" (1925), a slow paced but just 68 minute long romantic comedy Starring Eleanor Boardman and directed by King Vidor. Never restored, my fuzzy DVD copy was sent to me from our dear friend, Herr Graff. It was my kind of comedy, and fun to watch again.
I've never been a fan of silly slapstick, but this humor is from visual situations, mostly in San Francisco, and also cleverly worded titles that surely brought laughter to early film audiences.
Surprisingly, a leading character, playing a love struck successful businessman, called Pat O'Malley, was actually actor Pat O'Malley. His film credits begin in 1908 and continue well into the early 1960s (mostly on television). He had a previous background in the circus which might explain why there are several Spaniard troubadours doing cartwheels as they follow behind Harrison Ford's carriage earlier in the story. That did seem out of place, but comical nonetheless.

There's lots of flattering close-ups of Eleanor whose always immaculately dressed. This was apparently her third picture directed by King Vidor before the two were married in 1926.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Dec 10, 2017 2:25 pm

A Russian classic I'd never seen before was Abram Room's BED AND SOFA (1927) presented here in a nice print with a decent accompaniment. It concerns a worker moving to Moscow, and ending up kipping on said sofa at his ex war-buddy's apartment, despite the fact that he is married!

His pal, who is a foreman on the new Bolshoi theatre building is called away, and the inevitable (in films, anyway!) happens, particularly since the husband has become unthinking of the lady in question. On his return, he is told of the affair and decides to leave, but returns when he can't find anywhere to sleep. A sort of uneasy truce emerges, but takes a serious turn when she falls pregnant and the husband demands an abortion, which appears to have been legal over there. Amusing and thoughtful by turns, with a feminist air which becomes stronger towards the end. A scene-stealing cat manages to out-act the two men, though not the actress (Lyudmilla Semyonova) who plays the wife.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue Dec 12, 2017 3:12 pm

One of a number of semi-documentary reconstructions of WWI battles, THE SOMME (1928) is worth seeing, although the copy I watched was not of the best quality and was mute, which was a bit of a disadvantage. Although there is a comment referring to original footage, I suspect that most of the film is fresh material, both because there are a lot of dramatic scenes, and also because the original cameramen were not allowed or unable to take proper battle footage, as one may observe from the official 1916 film. A couple of gripes here: when we see the maps of the British advances, there is no scale so we don't really know the distances until the end of the film. Another scene featuring a rescue from no-man's-land with the VC winner himself doesn't tell us whether his two helpers, one of whom was killed and the other wounded were awarded decorations also as surely they should have been.

Some of the dramatics and titles are a bit 'Boys' Own'-ish, but I guess that is to be expected from a film of this vintage where the heroic (and in some cases) and humorous side is given more emphasis than in films from only a couple of years after this one. Certainly a decent accompaniment with perhaps sound effects would help this one.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostWed Dec 13, 2017 7:04 pm

Thanks to Ed Lorusso pointing me in the right direction, I got a look at Lucretia Lombard (1923). Irene Rich is married to Marc McDermott. He's old, he's irascible, he's dying, and he's angry that Irene is being escorted to the charity ball by John Roche from across the street. So he switches his sleeping pills for the aspirin and insists she gives him too many so when he dies, she'll be in trouble. What a joke! Fortunately, John's brother, Monte Blue, has just been made a judge, so he gets the investigation quashed.

Monte gets engaged to Norma Shearer (credited as "Norma Sherer"); Monte and Irene fall in love thanks, we are told by vast swaths of titles, to the irresistible force of fate; Monte and Miss Sherer are married an everyone goes off to escort Monte's father to the hospital, leaving the two competitors for Blue alone in the same house because.... well, that seems like a good idea, doesn't it?

It's the sort of story I am not overly fond of, but director Jack Conway does his usual stalwart best with it, with a melodramatic ending involving a fire, wolves and a flood. Unfortunately, while Miss Rich seems well cast, Norma Shearer is still learning her craft, and exhibits her "Ain't I cute?" tricks at full blast, causing me to want to shoot her. Mr. Blue is stuck in the middle with many a reaction shot, in which, I believe, he is supposed to look pensive. Instead, he looks like a rather doughy elder brother of Harry Langdon, thinking about the situation and not coming to any conclusion.

Fortunately, this movie did not seem to hurt anyone's career. Mr. Blue went on to work with Lubitsch in some sparkling comedies at Warners, while Conway, Shearer, and producer Harry Rapf fled to the newly formed Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where they all did very well by themselves and the studio.

Bob
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Dec 15, 2017 3:19 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:One of a number of semi-documentary reconstructions of WWI battles, THE SOMME (1928) is worth seeing, although the copy I watched was not of the best quality and was mute, which was a bit of a disadvantage. Although there is a comment referring to original footage, I suspect that most of the film is fresh material, both because there are a lot of dramatic scenes, and also because the original cameramen were not allowed or unable to take proper battle footage, as one may observe from the official 1916 film. A couple of gripes here: when we see the maps of the British advances, there is no scale so we don't really know the distances until the end of the film. Another scene featuring a rescue from no-man's-land with the VC winner himself doesn't tell us whether his two helpers, one of whom was killed and the other wounded were awarded decorations also as surely they should have been.

Some of the dramatics and titles are a bit 'Boys' Own'-ish, but I guess that is to be expected from a film of this vintage where the heroic (and in some cases) and humorous side is given more emphasis than in films from only a couple of years after this one. Certainly a decent accompaniment with perhaps sound effects would help this one.


I think there was a thread somewhere here a couple of years ago about the reconstructed footage in this movie.

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

PostSun Dec 17, 2017 3:33 pm

UP THE LADDER (1925) Virginia Valli as a wealthy woman in love with the poor inventor next door (Forrest Stanley) who needs $25.000 to perfect a television-telephone machine. Of course he wont hear of a woman putting her money into the idea, so she (despite then finding out her investments have 'gone bad') puts the money in through her guardian (George Fawcett). Soon the business seems to be a roaring success, the pair are married with a daughter, but there are a couple of flies in the ointment in the shape of Margaret Livingston and Holmes Herbert.

Distracted by Livingston, Stanley's mind is not on his business which is facing ruin (at least for the couple) as the bank is due to foreclose and the patents are the security. Will she save their wealth or the marriage? Rather light affair, boosted by Livingston's performance, but otherwise not much to write home about.

Heavily derided by Matthew Sweet in his book 'Shepperton Babylon' (he seems to only have watched the film on a BFI viewing machine and manages to get the plot all wrong), THE WOMAN FROM CHINA (1930 or 1931) is quite an entertaining piece, if rather silly. The plot concerns a ship's officer (Tony Wylde) in love with secretary Frances Cuyler, who is lusted after by villainous Chinaman (to use the contemporary expression) Gibb McLaughlin, in a very similar role to his one in THE SILENT HOUSE. Add a femme fatale (Julia Suedo), married to a fat and boring Dutch businessman, and who has obligations to the wicked Oriental, plus a vengeful Chinese cook, and you have an agreeable brew of nonsense in the vein of the 'Ripping Yarn' / 'Shocker'.

Admittedly, it is not particularly convincing, and one has to withhold ones belief a few times, but it is nowhere near as painful to watch as Sweet would suggest and survives here in a very nice copy indeed. A few genuinely seedy locations add to the flavour and the film is literally littered with corpses at the close of the film. And (SPOILER) one feels sorry for Suedo, who is a sympathetic Bad Woman in this film, one of the last British silents. A sad footnote to the film was that Cuyler (mistress to director George Dryhurst) was reported as a missing person in 1931, with no clue as to what happened to her.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon Dec 18, 2017 3:21 pm

I'm not sure where to start talking about Until They Get Me (1917). With the story, as I usually do? With its place in the works of its director, Frank Borzage? Nothing seems to flow naturally, so I'll begin by noting that its female lead, Pauline Starke, has a completely different look than any other female star of the period... the type of raw, clean, unadorned beauty that would only become fashionable in the 1960s. She reminds me of Ali McGraw. How D.W. Griffith picked her out of the crowds is a mystery to me. That he had Borzage direct her in this "Daughter of the Regiment" style of picture seems natural; it fits in with his Victorian ideals of honor and melodrama. Anyway...

Jack Curtis is in a hurry, so he offers to swap his tired horse and some extras for a fresh mount. The horse's owner agrees, but when he insists on drinking on the deal, Curtis breaks the bottle, and guns are drawn... and Curtis is faster. He disarms the other men and is on his way. He gets home to discover that his child has been born, but his wife his dead. Mountie Joe King shows up, but Curtis escapes, vowing privily to return once a year to see his child.

A year later, he is about to cross back into Canada, when he runs into Pauline Starke, fleeing from drudgery. When he tells her his story, she keeps his secret from King, who catches up with her, but not Curtis. He takes her back to the RCMP post where, over the next four years, she grows up, and they fall in love.

It's a story of duty and honor and the ending is a bit rushed, but it's all very entertainingly done. I'd like to write about the typical Borzage touches, about the magical realism that grows into actual mysticism, but there's none of that here, just a tale very well told for 1917, with some nice melodrama, good acting and pleasant scenery. For my taste, that's fine.

Bob
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue Dec 19, 2017 1:52 pm

SUR LES BORDS DE LA CAMERA (1932), is a silent short from Henri Storck, with no titles. Mainly brief shots of leisure / sporting activities, which were either not taken on one day, or taken by several cameramen. Slightly confusing in one place which features what seems to be rioting and police action. An interesting addition to what seems to be several short films of this type.

Directed by James Fitzpatrick of the 'Traveltalks', THE LADY OF THE LAKE (1928) is a dramatisation of Sir Walter Scott's long poem about an exiled nobleman, his daughter, and the mysterious stranger who restores their fortunes. This is a re-issue, with a very rough but melodic soundtrack, and in generally not very good condition. I imagine it's hard to do this sort of thing effectively, and the results are often rather ludicrous. Percy Marmont plays the stranger, with Benita Hume as the Lady.

Finished with a Mr and Mrs Sidney Drew comedy, also told in verse. A SAFE INVESTMENT (1915) has Sidney becoming involved in a very shady deal indeed, with sometimes amusing results. A pretty poor copy here.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue Dec 19, 2017 3:24 pm

Keisatsukan (1933) Isamu Kosuji is a disciplined, intelligent police officer. with strong ties to the community, but when Eiji Nakano, his best buddy from high school re-enters his life just as his mentor is shot, it takes him a while to put the circumstances together and build a case.

Tomu Uchida's silent police drama covers most of the bases; it's a personal story and one of dedication to the force and a forensic drama, all rolled into one, with a bang-up finish. Because this was a silent picture -- they would still be in production for two or three more years -- Uchida could use a moving camera far more casually than some one supervising a sound rig possibly could, and this movie is replete with tracking shots and pans -- in fact, the final confrontation is shot with a camera moving just below the speed of swish cuts, for a tremendously exciting, dizzying feel.

Once again, I am confronted with the often-stated dictate that Japanese cinema doesn't travel outside Japan, and the reality. Switch out a few of the police officers for some of Warner Brothers' Irish Mafia, and have Minor Watson read   the Policeman's Creed, instead of, presumably, some benshi, and Lloyd Bacon could have directed this, with Cagney and Bogart in the leads.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue Dec 19, 2017 6:14 pm

A Tragedy of the Cornish Coast (1912) The BFI has posted this orphaned film to their Youtube site. Wallett Waller comes to a Cornish fishing village to paint. When Dorothy Fane takes a fancy to the posh fellow, Oriell Farrell allows his baser passions to overcome him and he abducts the girl. Soon, however, Waller leads members of the Coast Guard in a valiant rescue.

In story-telling and acting, it is a standard work of the day. It is quite lovely for the bleak and bare landscape of the Cornish coast. However, the set design and composition are rather poor. While American and French film makers would design their sets and shots with the fields of vision they wished to emphasize in mind, British film makers in this era seemed to clutter the set and then choose whatever angle gave them the easiest line of sight, without any regard to composition .

Bob
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostWed Dec 20, 2017 1:56 pm

Allan Dwan's 1915 filming of DAVID HARUM was a delightful find, and it would be interesting to contrast it to the Will Rogers version of 1934, which seems to have changed the plot rather a bit. William Crane repeats his stage role as a small-town banker with a kindly sister, a very healthy appetite and a bow-window waistline, who is not one's typical idea of the banking type* as usually presented by Edward Arnold and Co.

The film is mainly a series of incidents (such as his tricking a fellow who has sold him a dud horse) with a light thread of a plot which includes a couple of lovers who have been separated, his cashier who has been passing phoney bills and a skinflint landlord who is determined to throw a poor widow out onto the streets.

Slight enough, perhaps, but the general effect is so good-humoured (one is surprised Disney didn't have a crack at it), genial and thoroughly nice (the fellow Harum cheats definitely had it coming to it, and his horse problems are very amusing) that one warms to this film, which is over all too quickly. Dwan (or his cameraman) uses at least two tracking shots, one which takes us to the bank, and the other which follows Harum's leisurely stroll towards the viewer, and this contributes to the general effect of a charming piece of Americana. Admittedly some of it is very predictable, but we have had 102 years of storytelling in the interval, and DAVID HARUM needs no excuses as to age to argue its place as an excellent entertainment.

*I was reminded of Marie Dressler in PROSPERITY (1932) as well as Fredric March's converted characted in THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostWed Dec 20, 2017 2:02 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Allan Dwan's 1915 filming of DAVID HARUM was a delightful find, and it would be interesting to contrast it to the Will Rogers version of 1934, which seems to have changed the plot rather a bit. William Crane repeats his stage role as a small-town banker with a kindly sister, a very healthy appetite and a bow-window waistline, who is not one's typical idea of the banking type* as usually presented by Edward Arnold and Co.

The film is mainly a series of incidents (such as his tricking a fellow who has sold him a dud horse) with a light thread of a plot which includes a couple of lovers who have been separated, his cashier who has been passing phoney bills and a skinflint landlord who is determined to throw a poor widow out onto the streets.

Slight enough, perhaps, but the general effect is so good-humoured (one is surprised Disney didn't have a crack at it), genial and thoroughly nice (the fellow Harum cheats definitely had it coming to it, and his horse problems are very amusing) that one warms to this film, which is over all too quickly. Dwan (or his cameraman) uses at least two tracking shots, one which takes us to the bank, and the other which follows Harum's leisurely stroll towards the viewer, and this contributes to the general effect of a charming piece of Americana. Admittedly some of it is very predictable, but we have had 102 years of storytelling in the interval, and DAVID HARUM needs no excuses as to age to argue its place as an excellent entertainment.

*I was reminded of Marie Dressler in PROSPERITY (1932) as well as Fredric March's converted characted in THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES.


This was shown as part of the Dwan retrospective at MOMA a few years ago, and at the time I was taken at Crane's evident pleasure in the performance. That pleasure in the performance is something that Dwan captured frequently in his career. Alas, it has grown rare in the movies, with the occasional exception of Annette Benning in a comedy.

Bob
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostWed Dec 20, 2017 4:33 pm

Tracing the early career of Kenji Mizoguchi (i.e., before The 47 Ronin) remains a problem for this particular round-eyed devil. I found a copy of the 29-minute Cinemateque Francaise version of Tokyo Koshinkyoku (1929; aka Tokyo March)-- no problem! I can read the French titles! Alas, the original version is more than a hundred minutes long. What can I tell about the original movie from such a cutdown?

Well, I can tell you about the plot. Shizue Natsukawa, daughter of a geisha, father unknown, loses her job at the factory, so she becomes a geisha. Most of the customers are grabby. Isamu Kosugi, is not. In fact, he proposes marriage, and things are looking rather bright, until his father forbids the marriage because of a Dark Secret.

It's difficult to tell from such an extreme cutdown, but it looks to me like this is a variation on the German Erda story, in which some uncaring female figure of lust lures innocent men to their doom -- The Blue Angel, perhaps, or Pandora's Box. Except in Mizoguchi's telling of the tale -- and I think I see a lot of German Expressionist influence in the opening sequences -- this alluring Circe is nothing of the sort. She's a nice girl trying to earn a decent living in a world where she is nothing but an object for men's lust, trapped by forces beyond her control.

Or maybe not. Perhaps some day a more complete version will show up. I don't think it likely, but I can hope so. And perhaps one or two more early Mizoguchi films will show up where I can see them.

Bob
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostThu Dec 21, 2017 11:06 am

boblipton wrote:Keisatsukan (1933) Isamu Kosuji is a disciplined, intelligence police officer. with strong ties to the community, but when Eiji Nakano, his best buddy from high school re-enters his life just as his mentor is shot, it takes him a while to put the circumstances together and build a case.

Tomu Uchida's silent police drama covers most of the bases; it's a personal story and one of dedication to the force and a forensic drama, all rolled into one, with a bang-up finish. Because this was a silent picture -- they would still be in production for two or three more years -- Uchida could use a moving camera far more casually than some one supervising a sound rig possibly could, and this movie is replete with tracking shots and pans -- in fact, the final confrontation is shot with a camera moving just below the speed of swish cuts, for a tremendously exciting, dizzying feel.

Once again, I am confronted with the often-stated dictate that Japanese cinema doesn't travel outside Japan, and the reality. Switch out a few of the police officers for some of Warner Brothers' Irish Mafia, and have Minor Watson read   the Policeman's Creed, instead of, presumably, some benshi, and Lloyd Bacon could have directed this, with Cagney and Bogart in the leads.

Bob


I've seen a half-dozen Uchida movies and they've all been great. Smart, incisive, strong. Here's a pretty long piece I wrote on him: http://www.filmjournal.com/moma-pays-tr ... omu-uchida

Keisatsukan is also known as Police Officer.
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oldposterho

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

PostThu Dec 21, 2017 6:57 pm

It's great to finally knock Baby Ryazanskie (aka Women of Ryazan) off the list. Early women filmmakers like Olga Preobrazhenskaya are an intriguing part of cinematic history and finding her work has been, until recently, pretty hard to do. This one is interesting in that the plot is a throwback to the D.W. Griffith/Norma Talmadge morality plays from a decade earlier but her technique is well informed by Eisenstein and Pudovikin's modernist film theories. It's quite a combination.

Basically a young woman marries the son of a wealthy farmer who, unfortunately, also has eyes for her. When the son goes off to the War to End All Wars, the skeevy father has his way with the lass. The whole rape scene is quite unnerving, viewed from the perspective of the farmer's old maid, who has a thing for the old man. The whole village is portrayed as a bunch of grotesques which seems rather counter-revolutionary, but overall the film is decidedly apolitical, the baddie rich farmer being the sole exception. It's an easy hour and half and a good tonic for them's what find paeans to the glory Marxism to be a bit much.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Dec 22, 2017 7:39 am

oldposterho wrote:It's great to finally knock Baby Ryazanskie (aka Women of Ryazan) off the list. Early women filmmakers like Olga Preobrazhenskaya are an intriguing part of cinematic history and finding her work has been, until recently, pretty hard to do. This one is interesting in that the plot is a throwback to the D.W. Griffith/Norma Talmadge morality plays from a decade earlier but her technique is well informed by Eisenstein and Pudovikin's modernist film theories. It's quite a combination.

Basically a young woman marries the son of a wealthy farmer who, unfortunately, also has eyes for her. When the son goes off to the War to End All Wars, the skeevy father has his way with the lass. The whole rape scene is quite unnerving, viewed from the perspective of the farmer's old maid, who has a thing for the old man. The whole village is portrayed as a bunch of grotesques which seems rather counter-revolutionary, but overall the film is decidedly apolitical, the baddie rich farmer being the sole exception. It's an easy hour and half and a good tonic for them's what find paeans to the glory Marxism to be a bit much.

Okay, now it's driving me crazy. Although it's not "The Canadian" with Thomas Meighan, which has some - albeit little - similarity to this, I have a silent I watched perhaps ten years ago that sounds just like this, but it's not this. Does anyone else know of an American film that is similar to this one. I seem to remember that the scene is in Maine, although that may be incorrect.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Dec 22, 2017 2:34 pm

The BFI has posted Pimple on the Whip (1917) to their YouTube site. In this burlesque, Fred Evan's Pimple character (nominally "Lord Elpus") is going to bet the family fortune of two bob on the Whip, running in the big race, but the villain has various nefarious plans to upset this.

Evans' Pimple was a very popular primitive slapstick series that ran for about a dozen years and given a good print, I can finally see why. With its pantomime horses, low puns, breaking the fourth wall and general disrespect for everything that British drama took seriously -- including the comic stuff -- Evans isn't just Monty Python sixty years early and without Cambridge and Oxford degrees. It's born of the same disrespect for authority that Mack Sennett was showing in the US, with his Keystone Kops. For Sennett and his audience, those weren't incompetent authorities; they were all the authorities there were, everyplace and all the time. They deserved every buffet they got, and ten times more, but this is all we can give to them, so let's give it to them good.

It's revolution in the making, and few seemed to recognize it. As the Tsar said in amazement, watching his courtiers laugh at the stupidity of the townsfolk in Chekhov's The Inspector General: "Don't they known they are laughing at themselves?"

Bob
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Dec 22, 2017 3:51 pm

A film which appears to have been reissued as an 'exploitation' piece, THE END OF THE ROAD (1919) is a government production aimed at doughboys (and their officers) in danger from the results of casual sex. The film begins with a prologue of a group of children, only one of whom is told (rather sketchily) how she came into the world, and implies that an ignorance of sexual matters is not healthy at all. The film then follows the adventures of these friends into adulthood, careers (one becomes a nurse the other a shopgirl with dreams of the 'high life') and finally into the War with the consequences of such sexual activity compared with the educated and sensible one who manages to escape such horrible diseases.

The narrative is somewhat disjointed at times, with odd loose ends of plot and detail flapping about, but this could easily be due to lost, deleted or censored footage, and one is left in no doubt as to the makers' intentions. The last section, where the ignorant friend is concerned about a 'skin complaint' but is reluctant to seek treatment as particularly harrowing, as the doctor (Richard Bennett, star of DAMAGED GOODS) shows her round the wards and the appalling results of such casual encounters.

A little loose in construction, THE END OF THE ROAD is a very useful early entry into the sex-education sub-genre, one which became prominent in the exploitation field. I found the second half of the film rather more effective in that as the narrative continued, there was little or no reluctance (occasionally it gets a bit vague) to name diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhoea in addition to showing us what they actually mean for the victims / reckless patients.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Dec 23, 2017 6:57 am

The BFI has posted The Torture Cage (1928) to their YouTube site. It's the fifth of six installments pf of the "Doctor Sin Fang" serial, a knock-off of Fu Manchu that used many of the same actors that name brand did -- presumably it was cheaper because they didn't have to pay royalties to Sax Rohmer.

In this one, the evil Dr. Sin is looking for the Sacred Seal while the good guys are looking for him. There is much skulking around a country home filled with mummy cases that open to reveal sinister orientals, and torture devices that look more annoying than torturous, but unlike most American serials, this one tells a complete story in itself. There's also the continuation of the tradition of serial heroines who actually do something; Evelyn Arden, as the girl friend of star/director Fred Paul does some sleuthing and handles a gun very well.

It;s all evil Orientals and stalwart Britons, which is what you;'d expect with this sort of movie. Still, if that's what you're in the mood for, it's pretty good!

Bob
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Dec 24, 2017 8:08 am

In The Dummy (1916), Lupino Lane and his rival propose to Winifred Delavente. Noting regretfully she can't marry them both, she proposes to marry whichever wins the walking race the next day.

We don't see the race in the copy the BFI has posted to their YouTube site. Alas, the copy seems to have been edited so severely that all continuity has been lost. What is left is a series of gag sequences which show fine construction, but because of the lack of context, aren't particularly funny. They do show off Lane's amazing acrobatic techniques -- for my tastes, he was one of the three best, along with Keaton and Clyde Cook -- with many a backwards roll and perfect timing as he neatly avoids Indian clubs and men on low-hanging trapeze bars. As it exists, however, it's largely of technical interest.

It's one of the "Nipper" comedies that Lane made in the Teens in the UK. In the 1920s, he would move to the US and star in some fine short subjects for Educational Pictures. With the coming of sound, he would move into features, then back to the United Kingdom, where he would become a West End star, capping his career with the long-running Me and My Girl, in which he would tour for decades.

Bob
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Dec 24, 2017 2:35 pm

Pretty anything from Carl Dreyer would seem worth watching (although I did find a couple of his later shorts rather dull), and DIE GEZEICHNETEN / LOVE ONE ANOTHER (1922) is no exception, although it takes a little bit of getting into as the opening scenes have a rather generous dose of intertitles. In addition, I found the film a little confusing in spots at the beginning.

The theme of the film is racial ' religious bigotry with a girl from a Jewish family (Hanna-Liebe as an adult - Polna Piekowskaja* - her only film) being sent to school with Russian children with "Let's hope that the contact with Russian children will benefit her" a rather chilling portent of the troubles to come. She is then forced to participate in the Russian prayers. Growing to young womanhood, a brief encounter with childhood friend and neighbour Richard Boleslawsky leads to her exile from the village.

There is really too much plot here to detail in so short a space, but the film deals with her elder brother (Vladimir Gajdarov) who has been baptised and is now a respectable lawyer, her student friend (Thorlief Reis) with revolutionary leanings and a communist conspirator who is really a Government spy. The latter part is concerned with the 1905 revolution, the Tsarist Government's infiltration as well as the prejudice of the local villagers when the Hanna-Liebe returns to her home and the lawyer brother comes back also when he hears his mother is dying.

This may sound a trifle confused, although there is plenty of plot and incident in this beautifully shot and handled movie. One suspects that there is more to discover from lesser-known works from Dreyer, as this one is intensely powerful and moving at times, and is well served by its music score.

*There seems to be no indication online as to what happened
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Dec 24, 2017 6:28 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Pretty anything from Carl Dreyer would seem worth watching...


I've found that any Carl Dreyer film needs to be watched very carefully if one can hope to truly understand the story. I've resorted to taking notes.

Although it seems familiar, I have yet to view it. Perhaps I've seen outtakes in a Dreyer Bio.?
According to Wikipedia:
This is the first film directed by Dreyer in Germany. It was shot near Berlin, where a city consisting of 25 different buildings was built, with a synagogue and an orthodox church and separate Russian and Jewish quarters.
In order to guarantee the authenticity of the film, Dreyer together with the set designer Jens Lind had travelled to Lublin in Poland, where he had visited the Jewish quarter. In addition, several of the actors were coming from Moscow theaters and for the crowd scenes, actual Jewish refugees from Russia were employed, some of them having personally experienced events similar to what's described in the film some fifteen years before. (Note: Small edit was made to this comment for readability.)
A fine film to watch on Christmas since the title infers another religious message from Dreyer.
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