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

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
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Jim Roots

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

PostSun Aug 27, 2017 7:45 am

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:A film I'd been keen on seeing for a long time, CYRANO DE BERGERAC (1925) was difficult to appreciate owing to the lack of English titles and the fact that my French wasn't up to the job, partly owing to there being a hell of a lot of titles, which could well be a problem even if a translation came about. The main interest of the film is that it was completely hand-tinted, with several colours in each frame of the film. The music was also very well done. Even bearing in mind my language difficulties, CYRANO is a very theatrical piece of entertainment and would appear to be using the original play text as opposed to new dialogue.


This was released in VHS back in the 1990s, I believe by Kino. Full translated intertitles, all the tinting, etc. It is a very long film but quite wonderful. If you still have a VHS player, you should look for a copy of this VHS. I think you'll find the experience more satisfying than the one you had.

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

PostSun Aug 27, 2017 8:11 am

Jim Roots wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:A film I'd been keen on seeing for a long time, CYRANO DE BERGERAC (1925) was difficult to appreciate owing to the lack of English titles and the fact that my French wasn't up to the job, partly owing to there being a hell of a lot of titles, which could well be a problem even if a translation came about. The main interest of the film is that it was completely hand-tinted, with several colours in each frame of the film. The music was also very well done. Even bearing in mind my language difficulties, CYRANO is a very theatrical piece of entertainment and would appear to be using the original play text as opposed to new dialogue.


This was released in VHS back in the 1990s, I believe by Kino. Full translated intertitles, all the tinting, etc. It is a very long film but quite wonderful. If you still have a VHS player, you should look for a copy of this VHS. I think you'll find the experience more satisfying than the one you had.

Jim


Just to mention that David Shepard had a DVD version from Image, issued in 2000 and a Flicker Alley MOD of it is now available:

http://www.moviezyng.com/889290090898.a ... storeid=44

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

PostSun Aug 27, 2017 1:29 pm

Jim Roots wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:A film I'd been keen on seeing for a long time, CYRANO DE BERGERAC (1925) was difficult to appreciate owing to the lack of English titles and the fact that my French wasn't up to the job, partly owing to there being a hell of a lot of titles, which could well be a problem even if a translation came about. The main interest of the film is that it was completely hand-tinted, with several colours in each frame of the film. The music was also very well done. Even bearing in mind my language difficulties, CYRANO is a very theatrical piece of entertainment and would appear to be using the original play text as opposed to new dialogue.


This was released in VHS back in the 1990s, I believe by Kino. Full translated intertitles, all the tinting, etc. It is a very long film but quite wonderful. If you still have a VHS player, you should look for a copy of this VHS. I think you'll find the experience more satisfying than the one you had.

Jim


I gave my VHS player the heave-ho some time ago as it just wasn't practical to have it as well as DVD unless one had two television sets. And noticed the availability of CYRANO on DVD but I have quite a backlog to watch so am being sparing with the ha'pennies unless a cheap one should turn up...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon Aug 28, 2017 7:45 am

I watched an 11 minute short on the "Thanhouser Presents Treasures from The Library of Congress" DVD called "Oh, What a Knight" (1910). The actors and actresses are unknown and so is the director. That doesn't disturb me because it's another silent film saved and kept from oblivion. That's a good thing. What does disturb me is the fact that I used up 11 minutes of my life watching it. I could have put those 11 minutes to much better use.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue Aug 29, 2017 1:49 pm

The first part of WITHIN THE LAW (1923) was so good that I regretted being disappointed by much of the remainder, despite a mainly splendid print and good quality score. Norma Talmadge plays a shopgirl unjustly accused of theft, who, when the store's owner is asked to consider a lenient sentence, is sent 'up the river' for three years. Before being taken to jail, Norma has the chance to talk to the owner, pointing out that a decent wage to provide the necessaries of life would reduce thefts. At the same time, his banker's wife is let off a charge of shoplifting, illustrating the 'two laws' system. After leaving prison (one feels more could have been made of this section, but perhaps that aspect was the same in the source book), Norma finds it impossible to earn an honest living and jumps in the river.

Rescued by a passer-by (Lew Cody), who turns out to be a friend of Norma's prison buddy, she is encouraged to join in their racket, but decides to indulge in crime where it does not involve lawbreaking. Within the year, their business (luring old farts with more money than sense into their honey-traps) is booming, but who should turn up but the son of Norma's old boss, and she hasn't done anything about making him pay for his injustice. At about this point the film becomes rather less interesting, being more of a 'crook story' than the meaty melodrama the first couple of reels promised. Also, the real thief turns up as well as the cops setting up a trap for the gang who have managed to slip around the law.

A handsome production, and some good scenes near the end did not make up for my disappointment in the way the plot developed. The early scenes had a sort of echo of AU BONHEUR DES DAMES in showing what shopgirls would have to put up with (paid $10 a week, which is perhaps about £80 in British money today) and the shabby treatment handed out the moment one of them seems to slip. One cannot fault Norma here, rather the plotting after the superb opening reels.
Last edited by earlytalkiebuffRob on Sun Sep 03, 2017 2:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue Aug 29, 2017 3:34 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:The first part of WITHIN THE LAW (1923) was so good that I regretted being disappointed by much of the remainder, despite a mainly splendid print and good quality score. Norma Talmadge plays a shopgirl unjustly accused of theft, who, when the store's owner is asked to consider a lenient sentence, is sent 'up the river' for three years. Before being taken to jail, Norma has the chance to talk to the owner, pointing out that a decent wage to provide the necessaries of life would reduce thefts. At the same time, his banker's wife is let off a charge of shoplifting, illustrating the 'two laws' system. After leaving prison (one feels more could have been made of this section, but perhaps that aspect was the same in the source book, Norma finds it impossible to earn an honest living and jumps in the river.
.


This is the plot of the source play: In the first act, word comes to the department store owner Edward Gilder that one of his former sales clerks, Mary Turner, has been convicted for stealing and given a three-year prison sentence. Gilder is pleased because he had asked the judge to make her an "example" to other employees. Turner asks to speak with Gilder before she goes to prison. While Gilder waits for her arrival, his store detective detains another woman, a customer, for stealing. This woman is the wife of a prominent banker, so rather than have her arrested, Gilder apologizes to her and lets her go. Turner arrives and tells Gilder she has been wrongly convicted. Although she says she never stole, she pleads with Gilder to increase the wages of his clerks, so no one who works there will be forced to steal. Gilder rejects her arguments, and she leaves for prison swearing revenge on him for his treatment of her.
Upon getting out of prison, Turner sets up a gang that engages in shady activities that are just within the boundaries of the law. She also marries Gilder's son. A member of the gang attempts to rob the home of Turner's new father-in-law at the urging of a police stooge attempting to entrap the gang. When the stooge reveals the plot, the gang member kills him, leaving Turner and her new husband at the scene to be found by the police. It seems that Turner may go to prison again, but she is saved when the guilty party confesses that she had no involvement in the crimes

I've seen a staging of one of the scenes & it is indeed a good play- Gilder instructs his management to inform the rich woman that "Our competitors have goods of even FINER quality than our own"
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue Aug 29, 2017 4:38 pm

FrankFay wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:The first part of WITHIN THE LAW (1923) was so good that I regretted being disappointed by much of the remainder, despite a mainly splendid print and good quality score. Norma Talmadge plays a shopgirl unjustly accused of theft, who, when the store's owner is asked to consider a lenient sentence, is sent 'up the river' for three years. Before being taken to jail, Norma has the chance to talk to the owner, pointing out that a decent wage to provide the necessaries of life would reduce thefts. At the same time, his banker's wife is let off a charge of shoplifting, illustrating the 'two laws' system. After leaving prison (one feels more could have been made of this section, but perhaps that aspect was the same in the source book, Norma finds it impossible to earn an honest living and jumps in the river.
.


This is the plot of the source play: In the first act, word comes to the department store owner Edward Gilder that one of his former sales clerks, Mary Turner, has been convicted for stealing and given a three-year prison sentence. Gilder is pleased because he had asked the judge to make her an "example" to other employees. Turner asks to speak with Gilder before she goes to prison. While Gilder waits for her arrival, his store detective detains another woman, a customer, for stealing. This woman is the wife of a prominent banker, so rather than have her arrested, Gilder apologizes to her and lets her go. Turner arrives and tells Gilder she has been wrongly convicted. Although she says she never stole, she pleads with Gilder to increase the wages of his clerks, so no one who works there will be forced to steal. Gilder rejects her arguments, and she leaves for prison swearing revenge on him for his treatment of her.
Upon getting out of prison, Turner sets up a gang that engages in shady activities that are just within the boundaries of the law. She also marries Gilder's son. A member of the gang attempts to rob the home of Turner's new father-in-law at the urging of a police stooge attempting to entrap the gang. When the stooge reveals the plot, the gang member kills him, leaving Turner and her new husband at the scene to be found by the police. It seems that Turner may go to prison again, but she is saved when the guilty party confesses that she had no involvement in the crimes

I've seen a staging of one of the scenes & it is indeed a good play- Gilder instructs his management to inform the rich woman that "Our competitors have goods of even FINER quality than our own"


There are also at least 2 talkie remakes, Paid (1930) with Joan Crawford, and Within the Law (1939) with Ruth Hussey. Paid is a strong film, the 1939 is post-Code so Hussey has to keep going on about what a bad thing she's doing. There is also a lost 1917 version with Alice Joyce.

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

PostTue Aug 29, 2017 9:48 pm

I was able to visit UCLA film archives yesterday and I got to watch "The Man From Red Gulch" 1925. UCLA has the full film (6 reels) on VHS from a 16 mm print that was originally from Stanford Film collection. The film featured Harry Carey, Harriet Hammond, Frank Campeau, Frank Norcross, Lee Shumway, Mark Hamilton, Doris Lloyd, and child actors Virginia Davis and Mickey Moore (Raiders of the Lost Ark direction fame).

The scenery of the Sacramento River and surrounding area was nice to see in a time when the area was much less populated. It was great to see the patented western comedy of Mark Hamilton (Old Man Frisbee) who forms a partnership with Harry Carey ("Sandy" Morton) and they both strike it rich with the discovery of Gold in the California Hills. The scenes of the paddle boat on the river which ends up being the demise of Lee Shumway (Lasham) is well filmed which gives the impression that Lasham is killed by the paddle wheel when he falls over board in a fist fight unlike the AFI description of Lasham drowning. As expected Sandy ends up marrying Betsey (Harriett Hammond).

No musical score so not sure why the student working the desk in the lab at Powell Library insisted that i needed head phones. Oh Well! It was a great way to spend the morning before spending the whole afternoon at Herrick Library doing more research.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostWed Aug 30, 2017 6:29 am

I just looked at the TCM premiere of When Knighthood Was in Flower -- yes, I had already looked at it on dvd, but wanted to see how its presentation on the small screen was. Ben Mankiewicz offered some nice and very well-deserved words about our Ben's efforts.

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

PostWed Aug 30, 2017 6:49 am

boblipton wrote:I just looked at the TCM premiere of When Knighthood Was in Flower -- yes, I had already looked at it on dvd, but wanted to see how its presentation on the small screen was. Ben Mankiewicz offered some nice and very well-deserved words about our Ben's efforts.

Bob


Did he mention Ben at all? I don't get TCM here in rural America.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Sep 01, 2017 7:59 am

Finished the evening with a short from the Filmmuseum München restored version of Leo McCarey directed Max Davidson short film comedies. I watched "Why Girls Say No" (1927), a 23 minute silent with Davidson, Marjorie Daw, Creighton Hale, Ann Brody, Spec O'Donnell, Jesse De Vorska, Noah Young, and - of all people - playing the chasing cop - Oliver Hardy. Hardy nearly steals the show! His pratfalls into a flooded street hole are silly, but funny nonetheless. The story itself is a Jewish ethnic comedy - the kind Davidson made many of before Jewish people became fed-up with the stereotypical humor of hundreds of years that they felt demeaned them and lambasted Davidson for doing to the point it, for all intents and purposes, ruined his career. This type of ethnic humor was very common in film for many decades, and it didn't just have the Jewish people singled out, but pitted Scots versus Irish and many other ethnicities against themselves or others. Many will have a problem with this particular film, though, not because of the ethnic humor, but because of what appears to be outright stalking at the beginning. A man wants to meet and seemingly fall in love with a girl who happens to be Jewish. She tries to avoid him. Long and short - they become a thing - lovebirds... Why she'd fall for him could only happen like this in the movies, one would think. For the record, too, Stan Laurel seems to have been one of the writers on this film. Davidson himself is very stereotyped as the Jewish father of Marjorie Daw. He plays this character time after time. At the end of it all, for 1927 I think this is a very well done short, has some good moments. It's also very dated in other respects, and not all of it was uproariously funny. Still, I enjoyed it a lot and will watch it again. Print is beautifully restored!
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Sep 01, 2017 11:33 am

I've got a 16mm print of Why Girls Say No. It's amazing how the behavior shown in this film would be considered stalking today, but back then it was considered charming. I need to pull it out and watch it again; it is a fun film.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Sep 01, 2017 2:28 pm

>>earlytalkiebuffRob:
A film I'd been keen on seeing for a long time, CYRANO DE BERGERAC (1925) was difficult to appreciate owing to the lack of English titles and the fact that my French wasn't up to the job, partly owing to there being a hell of a lot of titles, which could well be a problem even if a translation came about.<<

>Jim Roots:
This was released in VHS back in the 1990s, I believe by Kino. Full translated intertitles, all the tinting, etc. It is a very long film but quite wonderful. If you still have a VHS player, you should look for a copy of this VHS. I think you'll find the experience more satisfying than the one you had.<

I'll vote with Jim here: really excellent film, beyond just the chroma. Well written, directed, and played production of the classic story.

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

PostFri Sep 01, 2017 7:55 pm

I have read of Wallace Reid and knew that he was a successful leading man in pictures and also that he was a drug addict which lead to his early death, however I would be scratching my head to think of any film I have ever seen him in. Probably that is because I don't get to see many films made in last century's teen years. This was all rectified yesterday when I escaped into the world of over a hundred years ago with "The Golden Chance" (1915).

The picture is a bit of a melodrama, a popular format in those days and I was actually quite surprised at how good it was. One normally thinks of how stagey films of this era looked and how technique was still being evolved. Cecil B. deMille was involved and whilst he doesn't get in anything overly salacious as per his usual wont, he does manage to piece together a good bit of entertainment by limiting over-gesturing, employing careful lighting and using close-ups.

The synopsis is as follows: "Mary Denby becomes a seamstress after her husband Steve wastes their money on booze. Her employer provides her as an escort to accompany millionaire Roger Manning. Her husband tries blackmailing Manning and is later killed by the police, leaving Mary free to wed the millionaire."

I would have to say that from this picture Wallace Reid to me seemed no more effective than a tailor shop's dummy in the role of the millionaire. But, on the face of it, it was not a large role - but as he was a "star", he got "star" billing. To me the real top person in the film was Cleo Ridgely who played Mary Denby. She gives a fine performance - not over-stating it as others of that era would have been tempted to do. She was leaning a bit towards being on the plumpish side - but then that was considered as attractive. I would also give an honourary mention to Edythe Chapman as "her employer". Her performance also pleased me.

The accompaniment was respectfully given mainly by a piano sometimes doubled up with an accordionist. I found the airs they produced in keeping with the film.

As my father grew up in the same period in which the film was made, I probably found it easier to come to grips with it all than perhaps some people younger than I.

Well worth taking a look at.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Sep 02, 2017 6:38 am

I watched the second short on the Max Davidson release from Filmmuseum München, all releases directed by Leo McCarey. This one was "Jewish Prudence" (1927), a delicious little 21 minute silent short with Davidson, Martha Sleeper, Johnny Fox, Gaston Glass, Jesse De Vorska, and even has Eugene Pallette in a small, but funny uncredited part as a rent collector. The title is, of course, a play on 'jurisprudence'. The ethnic slur is pretty unKosher - that is, non PC - but the shenanigans are funny nonetheless. We see every attempt to get insurance money out of the system in the courts in this one, and, too, the lawyer against the Gimplewart family wants to marry Papa Gimplewart's daughter. Papa won't allow it until the lawyer wins his first case. Well... The humor here is pretty low, but I must admit that I thought it was very funny. Evidently, Stan Laurel also helped to write this.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Sep 03, 2017 12:20 am

The last silent film I watched is One A M (1916) with Charlie Chaplin in it....and only him in it, except for a brief scene with a taxi chauffeur. It's a brilliant masterpiece in my opinion, how he can atill make something so entertaining whilst being solo...and drunk ! To be fair though, some parts were a bit long winded and i nearly fell asleep :P
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Sep 03, 2017 2:35 am

From 1915, a simple yet delightful movie YOUNG ROMANCE. Shop assistants Edith Taliaferro and Tom Forman have been reading the same magazine serial which inspires them to impersonate wealthier folk on their week's vacation. Edith pinches the identity of a store customer for the duration of her stay, whilst Tom takes the name of the serial's hero. He has the bright wheeze of staying in a cheap boarding house in order for his money to go further.

Love blossoms, but also complications arise in the form of some old friends of the wealthy lady who turn up at the hotel and there is a hilarious scene where poor Tom is at his wit's end juggling his finances and coping with some of the pricier items on the dinner menu. The other fly in the ointment is Count Spaglioni (Al Garcia), who is in reality a fortune-hunter, and who abducts the poor girl when he hears that she (the real lady) has come into a pile of money.

YOUNG ROMANCE has a light touch throughout and bounces along (with the aid of Robert Israel) splendidly, even though one is certain what is going to happen. Perhaps not the most original of plots, the film is amusingly developed (William C de Mille is credited) and is a thoroughly engaging entertainment, presented here in an excellent copy.

An interesting rarity, DOOMSDAY (1928) is from a novel by Warwick Deeping, and is set on a farm in England. Florence Vidor is a young woman who is devoted to looking after her sick father, and is chosen as a trophy wife by local landowner Lawrence Grant. Vidor is really attracted to struggling farm owner Gary Cooper, but is less attracted to the heaps of housework Coop expects her to do. Foolishly she marries Grant, who can give her everything material, but nothing in the marriage stakes. Things get worse when Grant refuses to let her leave a dinner party when her father's health worsens, and his true, nasty character is revealed.

The music which accompanies DOOMSDAY is singularly unhelpful, but this rather odd film ('Doomsday' is the title of Cooper's farm, perhaps something to do with the Domesday Book) is quite effective in its own way, despite a print which is neither particularly good nor bad.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Sep 03, 2017 3:32 am

Another De Mille from 1915, and again a superb copy, THE CAPTIVE is set in the Balkans, with House Peters as a captured Turkish nobleman / soldier who is put to work on Montenegrin Blanche Sweet's farm. Sweet lives with her younger brother as the elder has been killed in the war, and is more than usually hostile to Peters.

I found this film a little difficult to get interested in at first, but after the initial reel or so, it begins to hold the attention better, although the progress of the war is a little confusing at times, with much reversals of fortune until (SPOILERS) the farmhouse is destroyed and Peters loses his title and property. The cement holding this film together is undoubtedly Miss Sweet, whose playing here is remarkably powerful.

MAMAN COLIBRI (1929) tells of a married mother (Maria Jacobini, only 36 or 37 at the time), married to a stuffy, disagreeable nobleman, who falls for the charms of her elder son's best friend (Francis Lederer) who is utterly smitten with her. The situation comes to the boil when Lederer (who we find is a soldier) tells her he has been ordered to leave (Morocco, I think) for two years, and at the same time her inattentive, patronising husband tells her to make her choice - love or wealth and position. Out in Africa, she becomes dissatisfied, and her position as 'the older woman' makes her the object of ridicule, and to cap it all the young man becomes smitten with a girl (Helene Hallier) of his own age. Sadder, but maybe wiser, she leaves...

This seems to be director Julien Duvivier's last silent film, and is another stunner, with more of the fluid camerawork which we had in AU BONHEUR DES DAMES making this a very good example of good craftsmanship overcoming a slight and familiar theme. Good use too of settings, with the Countess's home coming over as an elegant and opulent, but oppressive prison.

Followed this with the previously mentioned JEWISH PRUDENCE (1927), titled PRUDENCE here. Some very funny lines and gags as Max Davidson is trying to cope with his incorrigibly idle / useless children, winding up with a courtroom scenes where the poor fellow is being prosecuted by his future son-in-law...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue Sep 05, 2017 2:38 pm

East Side - West Side (1923) is an effective, small film that stars Eileen Percy and Kenneth Harlan as New Yorkers from different strata who come together through the randomness of fate and manage a happy outcome. I usually think of Percy as a supporting player but she's quite good in this 63-minute feature that allows her to be tough, noble, and sarcastic. Harlan has the slightly more cliched role of the clueless and insulated rich boy. Making the most of her scenes as the tragic Kit is Maxine Elliott Hicks. She nearly steals the films. Lucille Ward plays the silly mother, Charles Hill Mailes is the kindly doctor. Lucille Hutton and Betty May have brief roles. Helped immeasurably by the solid score by Jon Mirsalis.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue Sep 05, 2017 3:11 pm

I caught the first bit of Camille (1921), starring Rudolph Valentino on Silent Sunday Night. It seemed like Valentino spent the first 20 minutes or so just standing their like a mannequin... and I spent the first 20 minutes trying to figure out what in the blue blazes he found interesting about Alla Nazimova! Yeesh. Oh well, it actually started to hold my interest for whatever reason -- likely for the reasons I described, which kept me glued trying to figure this all out. Really cool Deco sets though.

My 3-year old is fascinated with A Trip To The Moon (1902). That's right. I think it scares him, but he wants to watch it. And we did. About 5 or 6 times. Maybe more. I eventually had to bail, but thankfully the multiple versions on the Flicker Alley provided some variety. I think this was the first time I really paid attention to the dialogue version. Really helped fill in the blanks for me!
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue Sep 05, 2017 5:48 pm

In April Folly (1920), her seventh movie, Marion Davies is an author who reads her latest novel to her publisher. In it, she is a woman who discovers a plot by J. Herbert Frank to steal a huge diamond. She takes the place of Madeline Marshall, who is carrying it to its new owner in South Africa. Along the way, she is succored by Conway Tearle, and tailed by Spencer Charters, a cigar-chomping, derby-wearing detective hired by Miss Marshall's father.

It's a delightful tale directed by Robert Z. Leonard. Miss Davies is photographed beautifully, and she gets to show some vivacity and a bit of business in her role. Mr. Charters' role seems to have largely ended up on the cutting room floor. Mr. Tearle is handsome and stalwart, typically so in a career in which he served as romantic interest for various starlets.

The copy I looked at was the dvd produced by Ed Lorusso, with a fine score by Ben Model. Although it was originally a five-reel movie, the Library of Congress preservation copy it was made from lacks the first reel; the contents of the first reel have been summarized by opening titles. The dvd contains a black-and-white version and tinted one; and the case cover has a lovely painting of Miss Davies from a lobby card.

It's a treat for fans of Miss Davies, and another nail in the coffin of the legend that she was a poor actress, her career sustained by the fortune of William Randolph Hearst.

Bob
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boblipton

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

PostTue Sep 05, 2017 6:24 pm

A Two-Cylinder Courtship (1917): A young man has a fine automobile and girl. They decide to get married and head off to town for a preacher, pursued by her disapproving father.

It sounds like the set-up for a fine, rollicking Keystone movie from 1915, or perhaps a Harold Lloyd short from 1919, doesn't it? It's actually a Christie comedy, directed by Scott Sidney, starring Jay Belasco and Billie Rhodes. The Christies, in this period, prided themselves on producing comedies with scripts, and none of that low-brow slapstick that was enjoyed only by people with no taste.

I must be one of those people with no taste. Good comedy, it seems to me, is provided by an askew vision that, for an instant, turns the world upside down for an instant. There is, alas, none of that here, only a tale of two youngsters eloping and putting it over on the disapproving parent.

Bob
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earlytalkiebuffRob

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

PostWed Sep 06, 2017 1:16 pm

Had to shuffle around before finding a copy of THE BAT (1926) with a reasonable accompaniment, but the film was worth the effort. Starts off with a miserly jewel collector trying to make sure that his most valuable acquisition doesn't get snaffled away by 'The Bat', and aided by some of New York's Finest who presumably have nothing better to do with their time. Of course....

Meantime a bank (with a glass skylight!), whose owner has been reported dead is robbed by a mysterious intruder... Shortly after, there is fear afoot in the banker's mansion which has been let (was a little confused on this point) to a wealthy Society Lady, who is living there with her lovely niece, (Jewel Carmen), a highly-strung maid (Louise Fazenda) and a hideous Japanese butler, played by Sojin Kamiyama. Soon the place is swarming with detectives, a crooked nephew and the family doctor, any one of whom could be 'The Bat'.

Although one could pick holes in it after the wrap-up, THE BAT moves at a very lively pace, and enough is happening on screen to stop one pausing to wonder who the villain is. Strikingly shot and designed, with some inventive use of titling (the shooting on the stairs), one feels that director Roland West was not handicapped in the least by the stage origins of the piece. Fazenda is perhaps over-used a little, but her presence does not work against the film, which is genuinely creepy at times. It's a long time since I've seen both 1930 versions, though I recall the widescreen one being by far the most effective, so slightly difficult to compare. Certainly the 1959 one comes a very lame fourth in the list. And of course a lot of the film was an influence in the 'Batman' comics and screen adventures.

A Cuban silent, LA VIRGEN DE LA CARIDAD (1930) does not refer (as I assumed) to the main character or the setting, rather to the lady / painting ('The Virgin of Charity') to whom prayers and thanks are offered. A simple love story, where the two are parted by the arrival of a wealthy landowner, who curries favour with the girl's father. This landowner is a dirty so-and-so in that he plots to swindle the young fellow out of his home and farm.

The film is quite hard to evaluate fairly, although there are bilingual subtitles. The lack of a music score makes it hard-going, at least in the first half. Also, some of the title cards are so murky as to be impossible to read unless one freeze-frames. The second part, where the plot gets a bit thicker, is more watchable than the first half. A definite curio, directed by Ramon Peon, some of whose films seem to survive, but unfortunately without English translation.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostWed Sep 06, 2017 4:40 pm

In Too Wise Wives (1921, Lois Weber directed Louis Calhern for the second time in his second movie, and Claire Windsor in her third or fourth. I had seen this movie some time ago, but had no memory of it, and wondered why I had considered it competent but boring. This viewing reminded me.

Mr. Calhern is newly married to Miss Windsor She is a pretty little thing, but a bit of a nitwit and very clinging. Other Woman Mona Lisa -- yes, that's the name of the actress, so don't blame me -- is married to Phillip Smalley. He adores her, but she doesn't love him. She is smart enough to do everything right -- except when she threw over Mr. Calhern; instead of rushing back to propose, he had found consolation with Miss Windsor. However, Miss Lisa is willing to forgive him for that and begin an affair while Smalley is out of town.

This was Weber's first release through Paramount, and suddenly, everything is conventional andd neat: too neat. the situations mirror themselves perfectly, the one interesting visual gloss is the way some of the titles take up the right three-quarters of the screen, allowing one of the players to pose. There is a bit of a fashion show; Miss Windsor wears a hat that in a high wind might carry her back to Kansas.

As much as I admire Miss Weber's movies of five years earlier, this one lacks the cnematic daring she had offered five years earlier. All that's left is the preaching, and the fight over Calhern who, at this stage, is a long drink of water, but not much else.

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

PostWed Sep 06, 2017 5:21 pm

Ran across an interesting film, 1926's Spangles, with Marian Nixon and everybody's favorite fuddy-duddy, Hobart Bosworth. What makes it so intriguing is that there are pretty conspicuous parallels with Tod Browning's later classic Freaks. Crossed love among the circus folk, carny revenge, and even a low rent Schlitzie makes a person wonder if Tod ever saw it, being a Universal joint and all.

My first Marian Nixon film and she was certainly easy on the eyes if not really a Streep in the acting department. Poor, doomed Gladys Brockwell performed admirably, but Pat O'Malley left little impression. Music was some sort of needle-drop concoction but still worth checking out if only to compare and contrast with Freaks.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostWed Sep 06, 2017 10:10 pm

oldposterho wrote:Ran across an interesting film, 1926's Spangles, with Marian Nixon and everybody's favorite fuddy-duddy, Hobart Bosworth. What makes it so intriguing is that there are pretty conspicuous parallels with Tod Browning's later classic Freaks. Crossed love among the circus folk, carny revenge, and even a low rent Schlitzie makes a person wonder if Tod ever saw it, being a Universal joint and all.

My first Marian Nixon film and she was certainly easy on the eyes if not really a Streep in the acting department. Poor, doomed Gladys Brockwell performed admirably, but Pat O'Malley left little impression. Music was some sort of needle-drop concoction but still worth checking out if only to compare and contrast with Freaks.


Thanks for the tip, i'll look for this. Brockwell is a fine actress, and Marian Nixon i think is one of the better actresses among the ingenues. Producers must have thought so too, she often gets somewhat edgier parts than you would expect. And with Bosworth too!

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

PostThu Sep 07, 2017 5:22 am

greta de groat wrote:
oldposterho wrote:Ran across an interesting film, 1926's Spangles, with Marian Nixon and everybody's favorite fuddy-duddy, Hobart Bosworth. What makes it so intriguing is that there are pretty conspicuous parallels with Tod Browning's later classic Freaks. Crossed love among the circus folk, carny revenge, and even a low rent Schlitzie makes a person wonder if Tod ever saw it, being a Universal joint and all.

My first Marian Nixon film and she was certainly easy on the eyes if not really a Streep in the acting department. Poor, doomed Gladys Brockwell performed admirably, but Pat O'Malley left little impression. Music was some sort of needle-drop concoction but still worth checking out if only to compare and contrast with Freaks.


Thanks for the tip, i'll look for this. Brockwell is a fine actress, and Marian Nixon i think is one of the better actresses among the ingenues. Producers must have thought so too, she often gets somewhat edgier parts than you would expect. And with Bosworth too!

greta


Oldies.com have it. It's been on my list of "gets" from their catalogue for the past two months.

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

PostThu Sep 07, 2017 7:41 am

I actually got it on DVD from Netflix, was shocked when I found it available there.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Sep 08, 2017 1:10 pm

Thirty years before Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas launched an avalanche of double-entendres and bowel jokes on an unsuspecting world, Bruce Bairnsfather (creator of 'Old Bill') wrote and directed CARRY ON, SERGEANT! (1928), a tribute to the ordinary soldiers and NCOs during the Great War.

Hugh Buckler and Jimmie Savo plays workmates who join up when war is declared, even though Buckler has just married. There are a few subplots, including a shifty-looking fellow visiting the works (and taking photos of some very carelessly unguarded 'secret' plans), as well as the owner's son who joins up, too. Despite one or two rather cramped / economical-looking sets, this Canadian silent held my attention throughout, despite the lack of any music, and the mixture of drama, adventure, comedy and sentiment works pretty well overall.

Of course there are a few loose girls around, including one (Louise Cardi) who has the hots for Buckler, and despite the patriotic tone of the film, there is plenty of grimness, too. It appears that this was Bairnsfather's only director's outing, and one might suspect he had some assistance as it is generally a very polished piece of work. The only odd note was that some of the fashions seemed more 1928 than 1914-18, particularly the cloche hats. However that is a minor quibble which did not affect my enjoyment of this picture.

And probably a little unfair to comment on MAYTIME (1923), from an incomplete print (which is more than was available a few years back), and presented mute. I had assumed that this film came before Romberg's operetta, but this was not the case, Romberg's work being presented in 1917. A story of two lovers separated by class (Harrison Ford is the gardener and Ethel Shannon the daughter of a wealthy man who has promised her to a smooth ratbag of a fellow) and an arranged marriage. However, Ford ends up with Clara Bow, which is surely no chap's idea of second prize. The story then jumps forward a couple of times, characters getting decrepit, and new generations being introduced until the present day...

As it stands, I found MAYTIME rather dull stuff, if handsomely presented and in a good print - or at least the part which is extant. The last scene was in Technicolor, which would likely have helped, as would a decent music score, Romberg* or no Romberg.

*'Will You Remember (Sweetheart)?' is featured in the film, though.
Last edited by earlytalkiebuffRob on Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Sep 08, 2017 5:23 pm

I saw that at Cinesation and it's quite a good film. I wonder why Buckler didn't become more of a prominent supporting player in the sound era, as he came from the stage; he turns up in a few roles in the 30s (I just saw him in Lost Horizon, as the guy at the end who handles a bunch of exposition about Colman heading to Shangri-La) but he must have gone back to the stage when sound came in. By the time of Lost Horizon, he was dead, killed in a car crash with his son John (who's in David Copperfield).
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