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

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
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Saint-Just

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

PostFri Apr 28, 2017 1:37 pm

Great print of A Pair of Tights on this collection: https://www.edition-filmmuseum.com/prod ... Teams.html
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Apr 29, 2017 9:34 am

I saw Behind the Door at Cinesation in 1998, which was long enough ago that I hardly remembered anything about it except the fate of Jane Novak. So it was a pleasure to watch the DVD last night.

As everybody on this board knows, it stars Hobart Bosworth, one of the forgotten-today-but-dominant-in-his-own-era performers of the silent era. Like many another great actor (Olivier, for one), he was an awe-inspiring talent whose dramatic power could overwhelm you with emotion and empathy, and three seconds later you're laughing your head off at the sheer hamminess he could fall into.

We get ham-and-cheese Hobie a bit too much in the opening scenes, but once he physically takes on his entire town in a bloody brawl, Bad Hobie gives way to Good Hobie, and he posts a powerhouse of a performance the rest of the way through this fast-moving and engrossing film. He's the whole film, and knows it.

Poor Jane isn't given anything to do. She is really quite a bland presence, but that may be why it is credible that a 52-year-old bachelor like Hobie's character could finally fall in love with her. You couldn't him make a believable couple with, say, Louise Brooks or Clara Bow.

I love Wallace Beery in anything. Few actors so relished playing atrocious villains without redemptive exaggeration: his bad guys are pure rotters through and through, and they make no apologies about it. I particularly enjoyed Beery's first shot, in which he's shown peering through a periscope, and then he looks the camera straight in the face with a squinty-eyed glare, as if daring the quaking cameraman to keep filming him in all his planned viciousness.

The nitrate decomp is pretty intrusive whenever it pops up, because it runs right down the broad middle of the screen where action is focussed. Other than that, the print is very well restored and looks great... although I did laugh out loud when Hobie lights a tiny candle and the whole screen suddenly explodes with bright yellow light.

This film is a real winner. Would a newbie like it if s/he had never seen a silent drama before? Well, you'd probably have to coach him/her to sit through the prologue, where Bad Hobie gets the better of Good Hobie; but once that town-fight breaks out, you'll have her/him hooked on watching it through to the end.

Jim
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earlytalkiebuffRob

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

PostSat Apr 29, 2017 1:11 pm

Saint-Just wrote:Great print of A Pair of Tights on this collection: https://www.edition-filmmuseum.com/prod ... Teams.html" target="_blank


Thanks for the link. Will give a breathing space before watching...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Apr 29, 2017 11:43 pm

"Geheimnisse einer Seele" (Secrets of a soul) by Pabst. Neatly done, but overall disappointing, like "Pandoras Box", which I have seen last week. To stay in the topic of human mind, next (but with sound) will be Hochbaum's "Eternal Mask"
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Apr 30, 2017 6:46 am

Edward Sloman seems to be a hard director to pin down due to the non-availability of some of his films, but SURRENDER (1927) is a very good taste of what we might have in store. Set in a mainly Jewish village in Austria, where the Rabbi is looked to for advice more than the elders, we are introduced to his prospective son-in-law, a bit of a watery fellow whose interest in daughter Mary Philbin, is half-hearted, to say the least. We are then introduced to Philbin, as well as a visiting Cossack Prince (Ivan Mousjoukine), an arrogant person, but with rather more charisma. Friction results when the Rabbi appears, furious at the man's behaviour...

Time passes, and the same Cossack is in charge of an invading army entering the village. The Rabbi recognises him, but lies to protect his daughter, but when she is discovered, Mousjoukine suggests a compromise to save the pathetic fiance from a firing squad. After more conflict, Philbin has a worse dilemma - spend the night with the man or the village and the peoiple go up in flames.

At this point we are shown the hypocrisy of some of the attitudes. The villagers are eager for Philbin to be defiled for their sake, and her father sees her possible sacrifice as a mortal sin, even though it is to be done to save the village... To say more would spoil the plot...

SURRENDER (the title clearly has two meanings) is both a powerful melodrama and a love story, with Mousjoukine being neither 100% hero or villain. It also seems to show the uselessness of faith (or at least, Jewish faith) in that no help comes from that quarter, nor has it ever seemed to come. Martyrdom seems more important than being saved from catastrophe. Both the villagers and the Rabbi are seen as hypocritical in their attitude towards Philbin, especially when they find out that she (SPOILER) is still pure, and then when they see the ring she has been given.

Having only seen THE LOST ZEPPELIN, I look forward to more of Sloman's work, particularly if it is as effective as this one.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Apr 30, 2017 8:17 am

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Edward Sloman seems to be a hard director to pin down due to the non-availability of some of his films, but SURRENDER (1927) is a very good taste of what we might have in store. Set in a mainly Jewish village in Austria, where the Rabbi is looked to for advice more than the elders, we are introduced to his prospective son-in-law, a bit of a watery fellow whose interest in daughter Mary Philbin, is half-hearted, to say the least. We are then introduced to Philbin, as well as a visiting Cossack Prince (Ivan Mousjoukine), an arrogant person, but with rather more charisma. Friction results when the Rabbi appears, furious at the man's behaviour...


The first time I read that paragraph, I misread the last sentence as, "Fiction results..."

Make of that what you will!

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

PostWed May 03, 2017 1:21 pm

Probably the main point of interest nowadays for DAUGHTER OF THE NIGHT (1920, edited from DER FLUCH DER MENSCHHEIT) is an early appearance by Bela Lugosi. The copy I watched had no credits, but I thought it was he, and this was confirmed by IMDb..

DAUGHTER OF THE NIGHT is set just after the Russian Revolution and tells of a young woman's escape from the country, entwined with a sub-plot of spies, revolutionaries, agitators and royalists. The woman (Lee Parry) becomes a celebrated singer in addition to winning the hearts of nearly everyone in sight. Unfortunately, it is almost ruined by an excess of titles, some of which are long-winded, others superfluous, which is a pity, as the film has some life to it, even though in this truncated form it is a bit confusing in spots. The ending, too, is rather unsatisfactory and hasty, but the haste may be due to the re-editing in this curate's egg of a movie.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostWed May 03, 2017 6:13 pm

Last night I revisited Douglas Fairbanks’ The Nut (1921) for the first time in a long while. I always appreciate Doug, but have to confess I found this feature less enjoyable than I’d remembered. This was the last comedy vehicle for the star before he turned exclusively to swashbucklers, and it may be that by this point – after the great success of his Zorro, and in the midst of preparing to play D’Artagnan — his heart wasn’t entirely in it.

Doug plays a wealthy young man in love with a wealthy young lady (Marguerite De La Motte) who has ambitious ideas about enriching the lives of slum children. He devotes his energies to helping her, but turns out to be ineffectual at gaining the patronage of wealthy backers. Eventually, he proves himself by rescuing his girl from a sleazy crook and simultaneously finding a sponsor for her plans.

That’s it for the plot, and it’s a good enough premise for comedy. But for me, the problem was that Doug’s character is just too dim-witted and too inept for too much of the running time. Again and again, he comes up with a really dumb plan, then fumbles the execution of it. One gets exasperated with him (or I did, anyway) by the midway point. There are a few good gags, and it gets better towards the end, but over all I found The Nut a decidedly lesser Fairbanks flick. The star certainly seemed ready for a change.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri May 05, 2017 6:57 am

I've been watching Kino's Edison: The Invention of the Movies set. It's funny how when average people think of silent movies (if they ever do think of them) they either think of Keystone comedies or this.

I thought it was interesting how they mentioned that a lot of the very early films were more or less interchangable and since they had to replace worn out negatives with new copies it's difficult to tell which film is which. Everyone seemed to film the "serpentine dance" and it was apparently a very popular performance art of the time. Looks like there are even people still doing it today.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri May 05, 2017 1:37 pm

HYPOCRITES (1915), directed by Lois Weber, is an interesting, allegorical movie which will definitely require a second viewing as it is more than a little peculiar - and not just for its unusual glimpses of female nudity. The film starts with a church sermon, showing much of the 'respectable' audience's indifference to the parson's preachings. After the service, he comes across an abandoned newspaper, and a story in it causes his reverie, where he is now clad in the robes of a monk, trying to encourage the congregation to follow the path of Truth. Some struggle nobly and fail, others ignore it, others still deter their companions from the Right Way...

To tell more would be to spoil the film, for it seems to change tone at times, with some scenes set in medieval times, as well as modern tableaux showing the failings of some. The film is consistently interesting, despite the odd scene which seems obscure or rambling, but I have not yet found out how complete the film is. Most definitely a one-of-a-kind.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun May 07, 2017 1:47 pm

Despite the absence of any squirrels (unless in the form of clothing), THE CAPTAINS DAUGHTER (1928) is a handsome, beautifully presented copy of this adaptation of a Pushkin story of the 1770s, complete with a very good score.

My enjoyment of it was rather hampered by an abundance of titles, which led to a degree of confusion at times. Russian audiences would doubtless have less of a problem following what was going on, but I must confess it was a trifle hard to follow in places. Nice though, to see a Russian silent from other than the usual crowd...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun May 07, 2017 3:30 pm

Connoisseur wrote:"Geheimnisse einer Seele" (Secrets of a soul) by Pabst. Neatly done, but overall disappointing, like "Pandoras Box", which I have seen last week. To stay in the topic of human mind, next (but with sound) will be Hochbaum's "Eternal Mask"
.


The fantasy sequences were funny - probably more so than the director intended
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun May 07, 2017 3:38 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Having only seen THE LOST ZEPPELIN, I look forward to more of Sloman's work, particularly if it is as effective as this one.


MURDER BY THE CLOCK is out there, and rather a mixed bag. The story and script are good, the visuals are superb, the cast is mostly adept (the comic relief excepted) but everything suffers from the glacial pace of the direction. His 1935 A DOG OF FLANDERS has the same issues- it looks beautiful but seems to take forever- and the script gives the story a happy ending.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon May 08, 2017 6:08 am

FrankFay wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Having only seen THE LOST ZEPPELIN, I look forward to more of Sloman's work, particularly if it is as effective as this one.


MURDER BY THE CLOCK is out there, and rather a mixed bag. The story and script are good, the visuals are superb, the cast is mostly adept (the comic relief excepted) but everything suffers from the glacial pace of the direction. His 1935 A DOG OF FLANDERS has the same issues- it looks beautiful but seems to take forever- and the script gives the story a happy ending.

"The Ghost of Rosy Taylor" (1919) is available, but these days you'll have to look for bootlegs. That goes for "His Woman" (1931) and "Too Late for Love"/aka "There's Always Tomorrow" (1934), too. Do go looking for "Gun Smoke" (1931) and "The Conquering Horde" (1931), too - they're really exceptional Westerns with Richard Arlen. I admit that I bought them on the bootleg market and have watched them both a number of times - and I'm never disappointed with the quality. Exceptionally put together films! "Too Late for Love" was truly an eye-opener for the kind of acting Frank Morgan was capable of, although the year before he had done "When Ladies Meet" (1933 - not directed by Sloman) and equally surprised me.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon May 08, 2017 7:17 pm

R Michael Pyle wrote:
FrankFay wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Having only seen THE LOST ZEPPELIN, I look forward to more of Sloman's work, particularly if it is as effective as this one.


MURDER BY THE CLOCK is out there, and rather a mixed bag. The story and script are good, the visuals are superb, the cast is mostly adept (the comic relief excepted) but everything suffers from the glacial pace of the direction. His 1935 A DOG OF FLANDERS has the same issues- it looks beautiful but seems to take forever- and the script gives the story a happy ending.

"The Ghost of Rosy Taylor" (1919) is available, but these days you'll have to look for bootlegs. That goes for "His Woman" (1931) and "Too Late for Love"/aka "There's Always Tomorrow" (1934), too. Do go looking for "Gun Smoke" (1931) and "The Conquering Horde" (1931), too - they're really exceptional Westerns with Richard Arlen. I admit that I bought them on the bootleg market and have watched them both a number of times - and I'm never disappointed with the quality. Exceptionally put together films! "Too Late for Love" was truly an eye-opener for the kind of acting Frank Morgan was capable of, although the year before he had done "When Ladies Meet" (1933 - not directed by Sloman) and equally surprised me.


Of course there is also PUTTIN' ON THE RITZ which is not very good, but that is not entirely Sloman's fault.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat May 13, 2017 7:35 pm

Re-watched Little Old New York (1923) and marveled at Marion Davies. Better than I remembered. The film runs over 100 minutes (Grapevine version) and she plays Pat the boy for probably 90 of those minutes and she just explodes off the screen in a great performance. The film placed in the top 10 at the box office, second year in a row with a top box office hit.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon May 15, 2017 5:08 pm

"The Mysterious Island" (1929) is a talking silent or if you prefer a talkie with silent periods. Looking at it today one finds it rather quaint and naive but it has its moments - adventure and associated excitement.

It starts off with the orchestra accompanying a bit of hurried crowd movements introducing the story, then we abruptly come upon Lionel Barrymore giving a speech to Montague Love. For the benefit of theatres not wired for sound, Barrymore messes up his hair a lot and also grabs his face with his hand periodically.

We are on an island off the coast of Hetvia - which looks for all the world to be Russian. Barrymore is in charge of this island and is also a scientist who has made a deep sea submarine. Montague Love is supposed to be a friend but he could be a tyrant? He seems to have political overtones. Meanwhile Lloyd Hughes, Barrymore's assistant, is in love with Sonia, Barrymore's daughter (Jacqueline Gadsdon).

The story progresses reasonably enough from the beginning and then gets sillier as it goes along - with submarines stuck on the sea floor, little "undersea men", giant octopi and other strange critters. I suppose that in 1929 all of this would have been appropriate for the times, but looking back now on the special effects, they appear woeful and amateurish.

Apparently a lot of the film was photographed in two-colour Technicolor which may have sustained more of an interest from this rather jaded viewer.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon May 15, 2017 6:50 pm

Donald Binks wrote: we abruptly come upon Lionel Barrymore giving a speech to Montague Love. For the benefit of theatres not wired for sound, Barrymore messes up his hair a lot and also grabs his face with his hand periodically.


...as he quite obviously reads his dialogue from blackboards!

The film had a troubled production history, and is frankly a mess.

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

PostMon May 15, 2017 8:09 pm

wich2 wrote:
Donald Binks wrote: we abruptly come upon Lionel Barrymore giving a speech to Montague Love. For the benefit of theatres not wired for sound, Barrymore messes up his hair a lot and also grabs his face with his hand periodically.


...as he quite obviously reads his dialogue from blackboards!

The film had a troubled production history, and is frankly a mess.

-Craig


I'm still hoping the semi-recently rediscovered Technicolor print is restored soon and made available on Blu-ray or even DVD.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue May 16, 2017 9:31 am

The Drake Case (1929) was issued as a talkie and as a silent, but only the silent version survives. Too bad it's a mess. It's impossible to tell what's missing from the 54 minutes that Grapevine put out. Film stars Gladys Brockwell (final film) as the menacing Lulu Marks who seems to ave a strange hold on the Drake family. Indeed, the mother and step-daughter are trying to sneak away to Europe to escape Lulu, but she catches them in the act. Much dialog between Lulu and Mrs. Drake (Doris Lloyd) Georgia (Barbara Leonard) implies blackmail and poisoning. After Lloyd gets shot and Lulu is hauled away, we get an extended courtroom sequence with surprise witnesses and strange revelations. Forrest Stanley plays the district attorney. Others in the cast are Robert Frazer, James Crane, Vera Lewis, Tom Dugan, and Francis Ford. You can make out the story but there seem to be gaps in the story, references in intertitles that make no sense, etc. Universal film was, apparently, a hit but it's hard to tell why.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue May 16, 2017 3:28 pm

Tösen från Stormyrtorpet, which is to say The Girl from Stormy Croft (1917). Directed by Victor Sjöström; starring Greta Almroth (whom I’ve mentioned before as in 1915’s Havsgamar), Lars Hanson (The Wind, Flesh and the Devil, etc.), and Karin Molander (Erotikon). Straightforward tale, from Selma Lagerlöf’s novel, pitting an unwed mother against Swedish small town/rural mores. While characters taken from Lagerlöf’s novels are often in situations which would cry out “melodrama” in other hands, and so one might expect them to be simplistic and un-nuanced, these characters are usually more complex than are the stories; and so it is here: Our meek unwed mother is not a stereotypical “bad girl”; our high society gal surprises us first one way and then another with her ethics; and the young man in question is perhaps not so heroic as we would have him. Crisply directed with a good eye and a sure hand by Sjöström, with Henrik Jaenzon (Ingeborg Holm, Erotikon, Havsgamar, etc.) giving us some beautiful camera work (I especially liked the oncoming country folk arriving by boat). Almroth’s acting is deeply felt, though with a bit of the histrionic staginess of the era, especially at the beginning; Hanson, Molander, and indeed everyone else all have a very modern-seeming naturalistic approach. As might be expected, the Swedish sets and locations have a perfect visual authenticity (I state this confidently as a heritage-loving half-Swede). Will you be deeply moved? No, frankly—not much, I think. Will it give you pause, and yield you some insightful reflections? Yes, most certainly. A worthy, entertaining film.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostThu May 18, 2017 11:27 am

drednm wrote:The Drake Case (1929) was issued as a talkie and as a silent, but only the silent version survives. Too bad it's a mess. It's impossible to tell what's missing from the 54 minutes that Grapevine put out. Film stars Gladys Brockwell (final film) as the menacing Lulu Marks who seems to ave a strange hold on the Drake family. Indeed, the mother and step-daughter are trying to sneak away to Europe to escape Lulu, but she catches them in the act. Much dialog between Lulu and Mrs. Drake (Doris Lloyd) Georgia (Barbara Leonard) implies blackmail and poisoning. After Lloyd gets shot and Lulu is hauled away, we get an extended courtroom sequence with surprise witnesses and strange revelations. Forrest Stanley plays the district attorney. Others in the cast are Robert Frazer, James Crane, Vera Lewis, Tom Dugan, and Francis Ford. You can make out the story but there seem to be gaps in the story, references in intertitles that make no sense, etc. Universal film was, apparently, a hit but it's hard to tell why.


I read that after Brockwell's death (an auto accident) her mother watched the film on numerous occasions, but this would have been the talkie.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostThu May 18, 2017 11:42 am

BRUDEFERDEN I HARDANGER / THE BRIDAL PROCESSION IN HARDINGER (1926) is an astonishing film in many ways. The story is of Marit, a Norwegian girl who stays behind when her parents emigrate to America, as she is in love with a local fellow. The man leaves, saying he will return in two years, but never writes, and the next she knows he is marrying another for money. In her distress she accidentally spills gravy / sauce on one her employer's guests and is sacked by the unsympathetic wife. She leaves the same evening.

With several gaps in the narrative, it follows the girl's marriage to another, as well as the bitterness which carries some fifty years, infecting her son and the romance between her daughter and her old love's son. A powerful drama, beautifully shot and telling how hatred turns in on the hater. Aase Bye plays Marit as a young woman, and Gunhilde Schytte-Jacobson plays her as an old woman whose heart has turned to stone. The daughter is played by Annik Saxegaard, her only film.

Not only is this an absorbing and atmospheric film, although the passing of time seems to show no changes in the people's dress or modes of transport. The film has the appearance of being superbly preserved, when it was taken from a badly damaged and shrunken print, and painstakingly brought back to life, tinted, and with a very good accompaniment. A model of restoration and presentation.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat May 20, 2017 1:01 pm

Was astonished to find a Raymond Griffith movie, PATHS TO PARADISE (1925) online. Difficult to describe the first sequence as there would be too many spoilers. Won't do any harm to say that Betty Compson plays one of a gang on con-merchants at 'The Bucket O'Blood', a dive in San Francisco.

What I will say is that this first sequence is by far the funniest in the film, as to me it gets rather bogged down after a while in the business of detective guarding a valuable piece of jewelry from being pinched. In fact I found the film dragged somewhat until the final, and unlikely chase sequence.

However, a few qualifiers are necessary. The copy I watched was not too clever, and the music was variable, to say the least. In addition, a film of this kind needs an audience, so perhaps watching under these circumstances does not do the movie justice.

A totally unrelated factor was that my cat Patchy decided to catch a mouse during the last couple of reels, so the film underwent several pauses before I was able to scoop the wee beastie (the mouse, that is) up and deposit him / her in a neighbouring garden. Obviously this broke up any concentration for a while, though I was glad to catch the creature. Anyone would think I don't feed my Puss...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon May 22, 2017 12:08 pm

The main interest in THE COAST PATROL (1925) is a young Fay Wray as a lighthouse-keeper's tomboy daughter in a small fishing village. Though a scamp, she is well-liked by all the locals even when she deflates their (very) tall tales. Nearby is a hotel peopled by the idle rich, in addition to an oily fellow (Gino Corrado) who runs a smuggling ring in tandem with girlfriend Clare de Lorez and turns out to be a rat and a coward as well. Within a few minutes, de Lorez is in trouble, to be rescued by Wray and Kenneth MacDonald of the Coast Patrol, who is on the track of the crooks.

Suspecting MacDonald, the two villains decide to seduce both him and Wray, which leads to their downfall. A mildly diverting film, better in the first half, and marred by a not-too-good print and unsuitable music, not to mention a rather jumbled last few minutes. Both Wray and de Lorez give good accounts of themselves and are more interesting than the chaps. Oh, and Wray's ancient-looking father is played by Spottiswoode Aitken, in a role where he seems due to drop dead at several intervals in the proceedings.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostWed May 24, 2017 1:53 am

One of Paramount's Zane Grey silents, WILD HORSE MESA (1925), is, despite a rather washed-out copy [a shame, with Bert Glennon on camera], a rousing yarn, well acted and paced, and with plenty of sub-plots, so too much of a description would give spoilers.

The basic plot is of a storekeeper whose business is slowly going down the pan, partly due to his soft heart, much to the distress of daughter Billie Dove, and her (hopeful) beau, played by Douglas Fairbanks Jr. A friend of the family has a suggestion to make their fortunes, involving corralling wild horses and barbed wire (of which the old man has plenty), which he is assured won't harm the horses.

The plot thickens, with Fairbanks's brother on the scene, played by Jack Holt. He is on good terms with the local Indians, working in tandem with them, and at the same time being blissfully unaware that the daughter (Margaret Morris) of one of them loves him. Holt also has an unearned reputation of sleeping with the local squaws. Add three bad men, led by Noah Beery, and you have a well-upholstered tale, of Good vs Evil, with justifiable revenge thrown in for good measure. One should also add Edith Yorke as Dove's formidable Grandma, a dab hand with the broom, and whose white pussy-cat goes everywhere with her.

Modern audiences may jib at Indians played by white folk, although Bernard Siegel looks more convincing than Margaret Morris, but this in no way detracts from the elements (the villains' disregard for the horses' welfare, the romantic subplots) which combine to make this a thoroughly enjoyable Western.
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drednm

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

PostWed May 24, 2017 11:36 am

Zander the Great (1925) exists in a lousy Videobrary print but is also housed at a few archives. This Marion Davies film was based on a Broadway play starring Alice Brady and concerns an orphan (Davies) raised by a Mrs. Caldwell (Hedda Hopper) who seems to pine away, waiting for her husband who ran off to Mexico. On her deathbed, she makes Davies swear she'll take the baby Zander to find his father. Off she goes with the kid. When she arrives in Arizona, she falls among thieves, a gang led by Harrison Ford, who claims to be the kid's father. After several comic scenes, she discovers they are smugglers and runs away, but she is apprehended by Black Bart. A giant sand storm comes up and leads to a chase and a shootout. Cute film. Well done. Davies is especially good as the orphan.

Two anecdotal stories are connected to this film. One seems to stem from the Guiles bio in which he goes on about a circus scene in which Davies ends up in a cage with a lion. He goes on to relate the story, which seems to come from Davies' memoir, in which Charlie Chaplin came in an did the stunt in Davies' outfit (it was shot from behind). Davies had a stunt double who always claimed to have done the lion shot. There's no such scene in the Videobrary copy. Did it ever exist?

The other, more likely anecdote, has Hearst coming in and watching the dailies. He fires director Clarence Badger and burns the footage and starts all over again with George Hill (husband to Frances Marion) and brings Joseph Urban in from New York to design the "rancho" where the gang hides out. He also demands that the sand storm be as big as the storm Griffith had shot in Way Down East. In the Videobrary copy, the scenes in the finale seem very short and possibly speeded up.
Ed Lorusso
Writer/Historian
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earlytalkiebuffRob

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

PostFri May 26, 2017 1:54 pm

LOVE NEVER DIES (1921) is an early film from King Vidor where a marriage goes off the rocks due to a misunderstanding. Lloyd Hughes falls for and marries Madge Bellamy, but keeps quiet about his mother, who isn't all a mother should be. When Father finds out, he threatens to shoot the poor fellow, so Bellamy agrees to go back home. When Hughes comes back, an old retainer jumbles up the message, leading him to pack up his bags and head for The City, accompanied by his cheeky, freckled sister. After doing well, materially at least, he returns home, to find he has a son, and Bellamy has married his rival in love...

The first half of LOVE NEVER DIES is taken up with so much plot that some of the remainder (Hughes's 'making good') is dashed off rather too quickly, as are the closing sequences. Although it's possible there may be missing footage, it's almost as if Vidor and co. realised they were running out of film / time and had to cram the rest of the plot in in double-quick time.

Having said that, the film is never less than interesting, even if some of the details seem hasty. A fondness for a simple, rustic life comes through most effectively, in comparison with Hughes's 'successful', but arid life in the City. A nice chance to see Vidor's concerns in embryo, although the main character gives up too quickly.

note: I wasn't sure who played the sister Dora, as a little girl, as I presume the older Dora was played by another.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat May 27, 2017 1:35 pm

LINES OF WHITE ON A SULLEN SEA (1911) has a poetic and evocative title, and is set in one of those nineteenth-century fishing villages so beloved of Griffith. In this one a girl agrees to marry a young fisherman, only to be forgotten as soon as he finds another. This would benefit from music and a better print, but is still worth seeing despite its similarity to other Biographs.

THE LIGHT THAT CAME (1909) has three sisters, one of whom is seen to be plain [hard to tell here] and is in the shadow of the others. Not explained here, but mentioned on IMDb is that the sister has been scarred. At a party, she is still lonely and miserable, until she meets a blind violinist. They fall in love, but she is afraid she will lose him when he has the chance of an operation. Although one may jib at the idea that only a blind man will fall in love with the girl [and at the ideas of 'homeliness' and 'beauty'], a graceful, touching drama.

THE SALVATION ARMY LASS (1909) is the first version of 'Salvation Nell' and tells of a girl who loses her lodgings and job when her boyfriend is accused of murder. After almost falling into the clutches of a gang of shoplifters, she joins the Salvation Army. When her fellow is released and is about to take the Wrong Path, she acts... Vivid and watchable, this is flawed to a degree by the new titles, which are nothing like the usual simple Biograph ones, and seem designed to emphasise the virtues of religion and the organisation.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat May 27, 2017 1:51 pm

Thanks for the head up on The Salvation Army Lass. I'm always anxious to add another title to my list of viewed Griffiths.

The copy on Youtube is offered with a disconcerting running speed. Also it looks like it has been "restored" by people with no idea of what the movie would have looked like in 1909. The titles are much too long and break the fourth wall by addressing Florence Lawrence's character directly.

Bob
To remain ignorant of what occurred before before you were born is to remain forever a child.
-- Marcus Tullius Cicero
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