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

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
  • Author
  • Message
Offline
User avatar

boblipton

  • Posts: 4823
  • Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:01 pm
  • Location: Clement Clarke Moore's Farm

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

PostWed Jul 26, 2017 6:58 pm

I just looked at The Devil's Assistant (1917), issued on dvd to accompany Whispering Shadows. To be exact, I looked at an abbreviated version of it, cut down from five reels to perhaps three. It retains the framework of the movie's plot, but primarily shows off the movie's special effects sequences.

Margarita Fischer marries Jack Mower. Her rejected suitor, Monroe Salisbury smiles devilishly and grows horn briefly, to show he is now evil. He grows a Mephistophelean beard and begins to drug his patients. Eventually, these include Miss Fischer, whom he eventually has within his power. When they run off together in a storm, he attempts to rape her.

It's pretty heady stuff for 1917, and in many ways the flip side of the sort of movie that Cecil B. DeMille was already beginning to specialize in, in which rich people have a great time sinning for the bulk of the movie, but repent in the last reel. It's hard to tell, in its current state, about the story and acting for most of the movie, because it's not present. It is clear that director Harry A. Pollard -- sometimes confused with the slapstick comedian Harry "Snub" Pollard -- did a fine job managing the fantastic horror sequences set in Hell, with their heavily tinted red, both to obscure the terrors of damnation, and the rape scene, with its flashes of lightning and strong side lighting lending an unearthly quality to the proceedings.

As mentioned earlier, the severe cutting makes it difficult to offer an appraisal of the overall quality of the film. On the other hand, the fantasy sequences show that a committed director could offer his audience some advanced visual story telling, even a century ago.

Bob
His plagiarism was limited only by his faulty technique.

-- Peter Schickele
Offline

earlytalkiebuffRob

  • Posts: 2553
  • Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:53 am

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

PostFri Jul 28, 2017 12:40 pm

Another rarity, WINE OF YOUTH (1924), was, like quite a few other King Vidor silents, taken from a stage play, 'Mary the Third', and indeed has a similar feel at times to THE PATSY (1928) and NOT SO DUMB (1930). A Jazz Age comedy, with a serious side to it, WINE OF YOUTH starts off with an extended double prologue showing how the heroine's (Eleanor Boardman) parents and grandparents got engaged.

Coming to the present, a wild(ish) party concludes with Boardman's friend 'Tish' suggesting a trial marriage, as she can't seem to decide between confident William Haines and the less assertive Ben Lyon, so all five (including Tish's boyfriend) set off to the woods for a chaste equivalent of 'On Approval'. There is also a contrast between the supposedly happy marriage of Boardman's parents (Eulalie Jensen as the mother, Mary I) as well as sharp tongued Grandma / Mary I, played by Gertrud Claire.

A consistently lively, amusing (one scene with a drunken partygoer's vest* unraveling is quite hilarious) and sometimes thoughtful film, with the moral at the end quite palatable.

*she has had to have a peculiar change of clothing after sobering up in the shower.
Offline

earlytalkiebuffRob

  • Posts: 2553
  • Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:53 am

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

PostSat Jul 29, 2017 2:49 pm

CHILDREN OF DIVORCE (1927), here seen in a beautifully clear print, is an interesting film, with many pleasures, but (in my mind) let down by a real downer of an ending. It follows three childhood pals, Kitty (Clara Bow), Jean (Esther Ralston) and Ted (Gary Cooper) whose parents have the common bond of divorce. Fifteen years or so later, they are grown up (after a fashion), but the ambitious Ted has become a wealthy fop and Jean is the 'richest girl in America'. Kitty is the one who is being groomed for a money-match, despite her loving a European nobleman who is also being pushed towards money. It did strike me that the 'poor' folk in this drama seemed pretty well off!

Ted then decides to work for a living, but is interrupted by a gaggle of buddies, and surprise, surprise finds himself the proud husband of Kitty, despite having been blotto the night before. Whether he was capable of anything that night is none too clear. Loving Jean, Ted is determined to divorce Kitty, but is persuaded to give the marriage a try...

CHILDREN OF DIVORCE has some nice touches, whether from director Frank Lloyd* of cameramen Norbert Brodine and Victor Milner it is not easy to tell, but suffers somewhat in the storytelling department, not to mention the horrible ending. A shame, because the film is consistently good to look at and well made as well as being presented in a superb copy.

*or even Josef von Sternberg...

Frank Capra's THE MATINEE IDOL (1928) was apparently long thought lost [although the copy here has a copyright renewal date of 1955] until a print was found in the Cinematheque Francaise. Running at just under the hour, it is a briskly paced romantic comedy with a serious side to it and is nicely scored by the indefatigable Robert Israel.

Johnnie Walker plays Don Wilson, a blackface artiste who needs a rest. When his car breaks down, his colleagues leave him to fix it while they go to a nearby show. Looking for the garage owner, Don finds himself selected by spunky owner's daughter Ginger (Bessie Love) to act in the thing. However his associates find the show (a Civil War drama in which anything which can go wrong, does) so funny that they want to book it for Broadway.

Of course Don falls for Ginger despite his aversion to women, but doesn't want her to realise that he is really the show's star. Further complications come when Ginger and her dad (Lionel Belmore) realise that they are being laughed at, and of course Don gets the cold shoulder for that, until...

The scenes with the show going pear-shaped were reminiscent of another silent, THE EXTRA GIRL or perhaps ELLA CINDERS, and are very well done, with a good balance of the absurdity of the show and the earnestness of the players. It also reminded me of a TV presentation of (or an extract) from a recent production, 'The Play That Goes Wrong', which [from what I could stomach of it] seemed terribly strained and unfunny. Capra's film works on several levels, and is presented here in a splendid, crisp copy, and is presumably (bar the title cards, which were, I take it, originally in French) complete.
Offline
User avatar

Donald Binks

  • Posts: 2595
  • Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:08 am
  • Location: Somewhere, over the rainbow

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

PostSun Jul 30, 2017 5:45 pm

"Borderline" (1930) is an English picture made in Switzerland. It is pretty woeful and the only distinguishing thing about it is that it has Mr. and Mrs. Paul Robeson appearing in it. Mr. Robeson being one the finest ever bass baritones is lost in it as the picture is silent.

This picture is very strange and somewhat amateurish. It is some attempt to make an avant-garde picture and it fails dismally. Whilst the dialogue inter-titles are sparse, the explanatory titles are lacking altogether, thus one sits there clueless as to what is actually going on. All I could work out was that there seemed to be a bit of a kerfuffle about a black man being in love with a white woman - or vice-versa.

To add to my pain, the picture was accompanied by jazz music - not the pleasing Paul Whiteman kind, but the kind that goes tweet, whistle, plunk and boom.

Definitely a picture that would improve after one has gone through about three bottles of a nice Cabernet Sauvignon.
Regards from
Donald Binks

"I was in love with a beautiful blonde one time. She led me to drink. It's the only thing I'm thankful to her for."
Offline

earlytalkiebuffRob

  • Posts: 2553
  • Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:53 am

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

PostMon Jul 31, 2017 1:00 pm

Donald Binks wrote:"Borderline" (1930) is an English picture made in Switzerland. It is pretty woeful and the only distinguishing thing about it is that it has Mr. and Mrs. Paul Robeson appearing in it. Mr. Robeson being one the finest ever bass baritones is lost in it as the picture is silent.

This picture is very strange and somewhat amateurish. It is some attempt to make an avant-garde picture and it fails dismally. Whilst the dialogue inter-titles are sparse, the explanatory titles are lacking altogether, thus one sits there clueless as to what is actually going on. All I could work out was that there seemed to be a bit of a kerfuffle about a black man being in love with a white woman - or vice-versa.

To add to my pain, the picture was accompanied by jazz music - not the pleasing Paul Whiteman kind, but the kind that goes tweet, whistle, plunk and boom.

Definitely a picture that would improve after one has gone through about three bottles of a nice Cabernet Sauvignon.


Definitely not an easy picture. I bought this a few years back and found it intriguing, but rather difficult to follow at times, although I did find the music suited the film pretty well. Not watched it since...
Offline

earlytalkiebuffRob

  • Posts: 2553
  • Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:53 am

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

PostMon Jul 31, 2017 1:17 pm

THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES (1928) was D W Griffith's penultimate silent, and is rather different from what we are used to. Phyllis Haver plays a blonde gold-digger who hears that a gentleman in the same hair salon / beauty parlour is rather skilled at making money, having recently scooped $250,000 on a deal. The gentleman in question is played by Jean Hersholt, a homely, middle-aged family man.

Once Haver gets her claws in, Hersholt is a changed man, neglecting his wife and children and making himself look foolish with the aid of a corset and reducing exercises. She is also aided by a smooth, slimy rat played by Don Alvarado, who wants her to land the poor sap with some iffy bonds. The you-know-what hits the fan when the rest of the family visit a new nightclub and daughter Sally O'Neill spots Pa and his bit of fluff. Despite the children's best efforts, Mother (Belle Bennett) sees the pair on the dance floor and is understandably not too pleased.

The picture then takes a more serious turn as we see how the so-called romance busts the family open, although an attempted suicide by Bennett is slightly unconvincing in the way that their roof garden seems rather too dangerous. The scene is very well staged, otherwise. The rest you should find out for yourself...

THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES may be minor Griffith, but it is no less entertaining for all that, being well mounted and nicely acted, particularly Haver, O'Neill and Hersholt. An odd mix of comedy and melodrama, it keeps one watching without any impatience. I've yet to find out if the film is a remake of Griffith's lost film of the same title from 1914.
Offline
User avatar

Christopher Jacobs

Moderator

  • Posts: 2271
  • Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2008 12:53 pm
  • Location: Grand Forks, North Dakota

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

PostMon Jul 31, 2017 10:18 pm

Made an hour-and-a-quarter drive down to Minnesota State University-Moorhead's final Summer Cinema silent movie screening of the season to see (and to introduce for the audience) Buster Keaton's THE BOAT, Harry Langdon's SHANGHAIED LOVERS, and the final Harold Lloyd-Bebe Daniels pairing CAPTAIN KIDD'S KIDS, all projected on a big screen with a live pipe organ accompaniment on a restored Wurlitzer Theatre Organ. The Keaton film was easily the best, one of his all-time classic shorts. The Langdon had its moments and was not a good copy by any means. The Lloyd is a fun if a bit disjointed and meandering film from the end of his early period, and it's always great to see Bebe Daniels. There was a nice and reasonably responsive turnout of close to 100 people.
Offline

Battra92

  • Posts: 310
  • Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:02 pm
  • Location: Capital Region of NY

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

PostTue Aug 01, 2017 1:05 pm

I started in on my Mad Davidson comedies set I got from Germany and so far it's quite good. You can tell the production quality of the films are good being Hal Roach. It's also always welcome to see a young Oliver Hardy as well.

So Needless to say I plan on finishing these soon.
Offline

sepiatone

  • Posts: 2310
  • Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 3:10 pm
  • Location: East Coast, USA

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

PostTue Aug 01, 2017 2:19 pm

disc 3 of the Edison:The Invention of the Movies
Offline
User avatar

boblipton

  • Posts: 4823
  • Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:01 pm
  • Location: Clement Clarke Moore's Farm

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

PostWed Aug 02, 2017 1:57 pm

I'm looking at the second set of Billy Dooley comedies from Grapevine -- issued this month. Currently, I'm halfway through and find them invariably competent but not outstanding.

They're accompanied by one of those annoying soundtracks in whichsome moron tells you what you're looking at. Anyone know anything about these?

Bob
His plagiarism was limited only by his faulty technique.

-- Peter Schickele
Offline
User avatar

Saint-Just

  • Posts: 93
  • Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2016 3:15 pm

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

PostThu Aug 03, 2017 3:39 pm

I've been going back through the third Treasures From the Archives set and was pleased to see Gertrude McCoy in a couple of Edison films; I had first noticed her in A Serenade By Proxy on the Kino Edison box set and her looks and natural, understated acting struck me instantly. Hopefully there's more of her films within the rest of the Treasures sets.

I also managed to sit through Griffith's Ramona, albeit with the sound muted and then at double speed. I found it to be dreadful in every respect - you don't have to see the name to know it's a Griffith film as every actor does the same histrionic arm movements and gesticulations. They say Griffith brought refinement to film acting but I find his actors to be exceptionally mannered and consciously acting - one thing about going through the Treasures sets is that you see other films from other studios of the same era and many have far superior acting to the Griffith films - maybe Griffith has some more imaginative framing and camera placement but it's wasted when the performances look like a caricature of the times. These are the sort of performances that Fractured Flickers loved to skewer, and I'd say justifiably so.
Offline

Battra92

  • Posts: 310
  • Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:02 pm
  • Location: Capital Region of NY

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

PostFri Aug 04, 2017 8:30 am

sepiatone wrote:disc 3 of the Edison:The Invention of the Movies


That's a fantastic set, isn't it! I just finished it recently. I especially loved the historians giving some context to what we're seeing.
Offline

tguinan

  • Posts: 50
  • Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:51 am

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

PostFri Aug 04, 2017 12:09 pm

boblipton wrote:I'm looking at the second set of Billy Dooley comedies from Grapevine -- issued this month. Currently, I'm halfway through and find them invariably competent but not outstanding.

They're accompanied by one of those annoying soundtracks in whichsome moron tells you what you're looking at. Anyone know anything about these?

Bob


About 1929/1930 just as sound was coming out several companies took old movies and reissued them with "sound". Melody Productions did it with 13 of Texas Guinan's films and their art work is extremely misleading. "See and Hear" Texas Guinan... same poster for all 13 films with the title of the film changed. You can see some of them on Ebay. In reality you never hear Texas Guinan, you hear 2 people (husband/wife) (father/son) (2 pals) saying totally inane things that may or may not have anything to do with what is on screen. I got transcripts from the NY State Censors with all the dialog and each one is dumb. It was done to capitalize on the new sound craze. Other companies did the same, I have East Lynne with Alan Hale with a similar soundtrack, and the Twin Dukes and a Duchess (now identified as Edison's A Deadly Hate (1915)) is the same.
Offline
User avatar

Donald Binks

  • Posts: 2595
  • Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:08 am
  • Location: Somewhere, over the rainbow

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

PostFri Aug 04, 2017 4:19 pm

Wednesday night was my local film appreciation group's film night, so we had a double feature. I started it off with Gary Cooper and Clara Bow in the recently restored "Children of Divorce" (1927) which received comments such as "Was Gary Cooper in silent pictures? He must have been awfully young?" and "Is that Clara Bow - I'd only seen her in a cloche hat." and "She scrubs up well, doesn't she!" Anyway, despite other minor distractions such as a couple of the audience who were more intent on watching what Bart, the wonder dog was doing - mostly scratching, we all were intrigued at the wonderful quality of the print.

The film naturally portrayed divorce as a no-no and quite rightly pointed out that the issue of a marriage are the ones who suffer. Of course back in the 1920's, divorces were not as easy to obtain as they are these days and people who did manage to obtain them were looked on as wicked people.

The first scenes of the picture establish three children growing up in a convent school. All three bond together. They are the children of divorce. Two make a pledge that when they are grown up they will marry.

We then skip a few years and the children have indeed grown up, but they seem to all have married the wrong people and wish to themselves have divorces. The three children originally seen have morphed into Clara Bow, Esther Ralston and Gary Cooper.

Clara Bow is at her vivacious and tom-boyish best. Esther Ralston is trying to play it straight and just manages to succeed whilst Gary Cooper is still in the throes of learning the business. It's all directed by Frank Lloyd although Josef von Sternberg got an uncredited look-in as a helper.

This is a very sentimental film with an over-ripe ending, some scenes contain very nice furniture.

After interval, we played "Les Vacances de M. Hulot" (1953). M. Hulot is a most welcome guest in my house such are Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy. I think I watch "Vacances" about once a year and I never grow tired of it. I can still manage to laugh at most of the gags no matter how many times I see them. A few in the small audience were seeing the film for the first time and were quite unsure of what it was all about. I just told them to let it float over them - that Jacques Tati was just a marvelous observer of everyday life who was able to make it all seem terribly amusing. He succeeds beyond measure in this classic.
Regards from
Donald Binks

"I was in love with a beautiful blonde one time. She led me to drink. It's the only thing I'm thankful to her for."
Offline
User avatar

Donald Binks

  • Posts: 2595
  • Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:08 am
  • Location: Somewhere, over the rainbow

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

PostFri Aug 04, 2017 4:39 pm

A chance to see Charles ("Chic") Sale without his very thick make-up disguising him unrecognisably as an old man in most of his screen repertoire comes along in 1924's "The New School Teacher". This film was an obscure release away from the mainstream put out by C.C. Burr Productions but nevertheless it equals the big studio productions as regards mirth-filled films. Obviously it was helped along by having Gregory La Cava directing it and above all, whoever wrote the absolutely hilarious titles which punctuate the film through-out.

Mr. Sale is assisted in his endeavours by Doris Kenyon who plays a bit of fluff he is nervously interested in, Robert Bentley plays her cad of a fiance, whilst Mickey Bennett and Mickey Bennett are her parents. I should add that there are a number of children in this picture, most of whom you would dearly love to kick in the backside.

The picture plays quite well, although it is not a masterpiece by any means. It is a pleasant enough little divertisment which has a heroic ending to it for good measure.

Whoever put the accompaniment together I suspect did so from a series of gramophone records of the 1920's. Some clicked and others such as "Indian Love Call" from "Rose Marie" were ill chosen and came over rather abrasively.
Regards from
Donald Binks

"I was in love with a beautiful blonde one time. She led me to drink. It's the only thing I'm thankful to her for."
Offline
User avatar

Donald Binks

  • Posts: 2595
  • Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:08 am
  • Location: Somewhere, over the rainbow

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

PostFri Aug 04, 2017 7:00 pm

"We had faces then!" says Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in "Sunset Boulevard" as she stands up into the light of the projector beaming one of her silent pictures on to the screen.

She was right! For it is Gloria Swanson's great ability to act with the face and eyes alone in "Zaza" (1923) which make it such a compelling and rewarding film to watch.

Based on an 1899 play, it was even by 1923, a bit ancient, however La Swanson manages to get everything she possibly can out of the character - playing "Zaza" the captivating songstress of the Parisian stage who is having men fall head over heels in love with her and who finally takes on a married man as a lover - with a vivaciousness and unabating energy.

One would tend to think that playing a cabaret singer in a silent film something of an impossibility but such was the cunning cleverness of the period that such obstacles are easily overcome and we don't notice any such shortcomings.

H.B. Warner who was 48 in 1923 is cast as Gloria's lover. This was before he reached sainthood as Jesus in "King of Kings" and was still able to play leading male parts before he branched into character roles. Although perhaps a little old, he nevertheless gives dignity to the role and carries it off with great presence.

Mary Thurman plays Zaza's friend "Florianne", well, deep down they are friends but they are show business rivals apt to break into a cat fight at a moment's notice. She is very effective.

Also in the cast are Ferdinand Gottschalk as an amourous Duke; (It is amazing to think that he was born in the 1850's!) Lucille La Verne as a woman who likes an occasional glass of wine or preferably, the entire bottle; Yvonne Hughes in a small but noticeable role as Zaza's maid and Helen Mack as H.B. Warner's daughter in some touching scenes towards the end of the picture.

This is a story of tragic love, basic morality and the sacrifices we must make in life. In amongst all the gaiety there is a message that we must pay for our actions and that duty must always come first. These messages must appear to some in our current times as rather old fashioned but in 1923 they still held true.

"Zaza" is a lavish production with brilliant performances in a print near to pristine with a score based on the 1923 cue sheets very nicely performed on the DVD by Jeff Rapsis on piano.
Regards from
Donald Binks

"I was in love with a beautiful blonde one time. She led me to drink. It's the only thing I'm thankful to her for."
Offline
User avatar

boblipton

  • Posts: 4823
  • Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:01 pm
  • Location: Clement Clarke Moore's Farm

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

PostSat Aug 05, 2017 7:17 am

One of Grapevine' Videos' releases this month is Billy Dooley Comedies vol. 2, Dooley was a stage dancer who was recruited by the Christie Brothers for a series of silent shorts shorts they produced for Paramount in 1928. The series lasted until 1929. Dooley was almost invariably in a sailor suit with a dumb expression on his face that occasionally escalated into a googie. The series was competent in the Christie style: a situation, many pratfalls, Christies' usual collection of pratfalling types and Vera Steadman.

The Christies rank fourth on my preference of independent comedy short producers of the era, behind Hal Roach, Jack White and Mack Sennett. Until Dooley, they never seemed to have a lead comic with a personality. Instead, they had a repertory company of comic types who shuffled the lead among themselves, depending on the story. All of them were highly competent, but I prefer more interesting personality or a well-organized story to keep up my interest.

Nonetheless, in a "white face clown" sort of way, the Christies turned out a good product. The eight short subject here fall into that category, even if all but a couple are marred by the sort of annoying voice-over that explains in bad puns what is going on. I don't know precisely when these were added, but they, and the flat-footed music and sound effects don't help.

My net impression: if you're looking for great silent comedy, you can avoid this: it's all been done elsewhere and more interestingly. If, however, you wish to invesitgate this important strand of silent comedy, this is a worthwhile set.

Bob
His plagiarism was limited only by his faulty technique.

-- Peter Schickele
Offline

earlytalkiebuffRob

  • Posts: 2553
  • Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:53 am

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

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 3:44 am

Despite the lack of music on the upload, I had earmarked Allan Dwan's ZAZA (1923) before Donald gave us his views on it. I can add little else, agreeing that H B Warner is a slightly unusual romantic lead, although in real life there are FAR more folk who get married or become romantically entangled despite having the looks of a small bag of potatoes. An effective, touching film, with Swanson very vivacious and a good feel for the music-hall and place-in-the country-settings. And regarding Lucille la Verne (only fifty at the time), I think a case of wine would probably be more appropriate. A very handsome copy, also.

The Eastman House restoration of LONESOME (1928) shows how much a superb copy of a film makes the difference, as the first time I saw the film, it was an indifferent copy to say the least, and lacking the soundtrack and colour, in addition to missing the beginning of the movie entirely as well as ( think) some other shots.

Folk on this site will no doubt know the plot of LONESOME, which is simple in the extreme. Two unhappy singletons (Barbara Kent - Mary - a pretty and likable switchboard operator, Glenn Tryon - Jim - a factory worker) meet during a day's outing to Coney Island, fall in love then lose one another - will they find each other? In a little under seventy minutes, one is totally captivated by a film in which so much happens to and by the characters. From the early scenes getting up, going to work (one chap on the subway seems to be eating something which looks like a bloater regardless of other passengers) and the regular work grind is very well captured as are the fairground and beach sequences. The plot may sound banal, but it stands well with films such as SUNRISE (1927), THE CROWD (1928) and the British UNDERGROUND (1928) to which it could perhaps be compared.

This copy also has the colour tinting and three talking sequences, the latter of which have been criticised (Andrew Sarris, for a start) on account of banality. This does seem a trifle unfair when one considers what a good deal of talk is like, and one is likely to produce reams of drivel when with a pretty and charming girl. The voices do sound rather disembodied, but one has to remember it was early days, and clarity was probably the priority. A police station scene near the end is done with humour, though, and it is certainly preferable to the mute copy I watched where all one had was images of Mary and Jim mouthing silent nothings.

The music and effects are a little variable, but, as with the colour, they enhance the film in my view. I suppose one could rework it to have a purely orchestral score, preserving the print quality of this restoration, and using a title or two where one has the talking scenes, but it would be impossible to be exact about Fejos's intentions were, as if any there was a silent version prepared for non-talking cinemas, it would not seem to have survived. The titles here are retranslated from the French ones as the material came from the Cinematheque. A remarkable, magical film, both delightful and distressing as well as showing how much of a travesty some of the other copies were.
Offline
User avatar

boblipton

  • Posts: 4823
  • Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:01 pm
  • Location: Clement Clarke Moore's Farm

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

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 2:34 pm

Texas Guinan has a hankering for Francis Ford, but it's just him and his little daughter, Jeanne Carpenter. He's set to ride his big horse in the land rush that's about to happen, but there are dirty doings afoot in The Stampede (1921).

Miss Guinan looks good no matter she is dressed in, and she certainly knows how to ride; she mounts her horses as well as any many, a basic requirement for a western star of the era. It may surprise people who know her only from her career as a speakeasy owner in the 1920s, but she had spent four years in the movies, starting out at Triangle. This short feature, newly re-issued on Blu-Ray and dvd by Grapevine, has a nice drop-needle score compiled by Jack Hardy.

Bob
His plagiarism was limited only by his faulty technique.

-- Peter Schickele
Offline
User avatar

oldposterho

  • Posts: 420
  • Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:05 am

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

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 8:42 pm

I thought 1923's The Merry-Go-Round was a complete misfire. Without von Stroheim at the helm or in the lead it just goes nowhere. There were places where I really wondered how much better it would have been with his megalomaniacal touch, but with hack Rupert Julian at the helm and human mannequin Norman Kerry in the lead it was doomed to be DOA. Honestly, Norman Kerry's stardom is a complete mystery to me, I suspect he was a creation of his era. I did get a new found appreciation of Mary Philbin though, she was absolutely terrific.
Offline
User avatar

FrankFay

  • Posts: 3136
  • Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 11:48 am
  • Location: Albany NY

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

PostMon Aug 07, 2017 2:45 am

oldposterho wrote:I thought 1923's The Merry-Go-Round was a complete misfire. Without von Stroheim at the helm or in the lead it just goes nowhere. There were places where I really wondered how much better it would have been with his megalomaniacal touch, but with hack Rupert Julian at the helm and human mannequin Norman Kerry in the lead it was doomed to be DOA. Honestly, Norman Kerry's stardom is a complete mystery to me, I suspect he was a creation of his era. I did get a new found appreciation of Mary Philbin though, she was absolutely terrific.


Kerry is slightly more interesting than usual in LORRAINE OF THE LIONS, playing a wandering psychic.
Eric Stott
Online
User avatar

greta de groat

  • Posts: 1968
  • Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2008 1:06 am
  • Location: California

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

PostMon Aug 07, 2017 9:28 am

Kerry turns up in a lot of biographies and autobiographies and seems to have been a genuinely nice and helpful person. That could explain why he got more roles than one would think based on his talent level (that and he's tall and well built and fills out his clothes nicely. The revolting mustache is a definite minus, though). Even the nasty Miriam Cooper who trashes everyone in Hollywood including Kerry can't help but mention that he was friendly even if she didn't appreciate it. In her book she gripes about when she left Hollywood for good, imagine--nobody came to see her off at the train station except that drunk Kerry!

And Lorraine of the Lions is a hoot!

greta
Greta de Groat
Unsung Divas of the Silent Screen
http://www.stanford.edu/~gdegroat
Offline

earlytalkiebuffRob

  • Posts: 2553
  • Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:53 am

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

PostTue Aug 08, 2017 12:32 pm

greta de groat wrote:Kerry turns up in a lot of biographies and autobiographies and seems to have been a genuinely nice and helpful person. That could explain why he got more roles than one would think based on his talent level (that and he's tall and well built and fills out his clothes nicely. The revolting mustache is a definite minus, though). Even the nasty Miriam Cooper who trashes everyone in Hollywood including Kerry can't help but mention that he was friendly even if she didn't appreciate it. In her book she gripes about when she left Hollywood for good, imagine--nobody came to see her off at the train station except that drunk Kerry!

And Lorraine of the Lions is a hoot!

greta


Thanks for the recommendation. I was put off LORRAINE OF THE LIONS by an illogical impulse as that was the name of a vile so-called relative of my late partner Deirdre, who, with her ghastly family, pulled a filthy trick on her estate after she died last year. It was not so much the dirt played on me [bad enough], but that done to my partner's trust and memory.
Offline

earlytalkiebuffRob

  • Posts: 2553
  • Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:53 am

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

PostTue Aug 08, 2017 12:54 pm

Watching THE GOLDEN CHANCE (1915), I had a feeling of deja-vu, and found out that one of the plot threads was re-used by Cecil B De Mille a few years later in FORBIDDEN FRUIT.

THE GOLDEN CHANCE has wealthy socialites Ernest Joy and Edythe Chapman using a girl as bait to get millionaire Wallace Reid to invest with them. Meanwhile, Mary Denby (Cleo Ridgely), the blue-blooded wife of a ne'er-do-well drunkard and and crook finds a job in order to meet the rent, and is then offered the chance to take the bait-girl's place at dinner when the real girl falls sick [one notes that the hosts seem little concerned about her health]. Needless to say love blossoms and complications arise! Perhaps I wasn't in the right mood, or maybe it was too short a time since watching FORBIDDEN FRUIT, but despite a superb copy and decent scoring, I was not as involved as I would like to have been. The two ladies are both very effective here, though...

The Charles Ray film THE COWARD (1915) is again an excellent copy. Ray plays the scion of a Confederate family who, like Henry Fleming, is afraid he will be a coward when the testing-time comes. His father, (Frank Keenan), is a staunch supporter of the Cause, even trying to enlist at the beginning and is ashamed of his son's feelings and fears. Although Ray does show nerves at the beginning, it won't spoil things to say he redeems himself in a plot line which would serve for THE GENERAL twelve years later. Rather different to what I expected, but a well-mounted (Triangle-Ince-Barker) movie, superbly presented and with a careful suitable arrangement of music.
Offline

earlytalkiebuffRob

  • Posts: 2553
  • Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:53 am

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

PostWed Aug 09, 2017 2:01 am

For a long time, TWO ARABIAN KNIGHTS (1927) was either believed lost, or perhaps (like the Milestone - Hughes THE RACKET [1928]) simply unavailable. These rediscoveries (and perhaps THE GARDEN OF EDEN, which I have yet to see) show that Lewis Milestone had more good movies to his credit than one might be led to believe.

A Quirt-Flagg style yarn, TWO ARABIAN KNIGHTS starts with con merchant Sergeant Louis Wolheim and blueblood William Boyd slugging it out in a shell-hole while battle rages around them. Incarceration in a freezing prison camp doesn't faze them (as they are now firm pals - perhaps), and they pinch a couple of Arab outfits when their owners have to visit the latrines (an interesting touch, this, acknowledging that people need to 'take a leak' from time to time). Their escape plan is hampered when they run into a bunch more Arabs being transported to Turkey...

On their travels they rescue (and fight for) from drowning an Arab princess played by the lovely Mary Astor, who is unfortunately betrothed to another... A briskly paced, rather salty (to employ an over-used word) adventure, with Wolheim giving us more of the humorous side we saw three years later in ALL QUIET, and Boyd as a likable, cheerful comrade-in-arms.

Some parts of the film show considerable decay, and I don't know yet if any is actually missing, but the greater part of the film is in very good shape indeed. A good many laughs to be had, although some of it may seem a bit non-PC nowadays. Once again Robert Israel provides the music and one does wonder if he ever finds time to eat and sleep, let alone do anything else. A very welcome rediscovery.
Offline

Battra92

  • Posts: 310
  • Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:02 pm
  • Location: Capital Region of NY

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

PostWed Aug 09, 2017 8:20 am

Donald Binks wrote:whilst Gary Cooper is still in the throes of learning the business.


That's the most polite way of putting it I've ever heard. He's really green (in fact his distressed acting looks like constipation to me)

For me, I've been watching Screening the Poor and it's a really enjoyable set. I find the whole social movement of the late 1800s and early 1900s to be really fascinating.

What's really cool is that it includes some magic lantern slide shows to compliment the show. Sadly finding films of those is really rare. I saw a show about these on television when I was a kid along with a demonstration and it was really fun.
Offline
User avatar

boblipton

  • Posts: 4823
  • Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:01 pm
  • Location: Clement Clarke Moore's Farm

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

PostThu Aug 10, 2017 5:27 pm

A previously missing Thanhouser short, An Elevator Romance (1911) has turned up on the Eye Institute's YouTube site. When wealthy western William Garwood is visiting an office for business, he is smitten with the pretty office girl. She is all business, however, so he switches jackets with the elevator operator and gets her alone, shuts down the elevator and shares his lunch with her. Later, when a fire breaks out in the office, she stays at the switchboard to summon the police, and is trapped by the flames and smoke. Guess who rescues her

The copy is very watchable, albeit there is considerable chipping in the images. Like many a Thanhouser Production, it has good sets and good acting; the company's connections to the New York theatrical industry gave them a leg up in those departments.

At the moment, the only known credit is for Mr. Garwood. With a copy to view, we can hope that more players (and perhaps behind-the-camera talent) can be added to its credits.

Bob
His plagiarism was limited only by his faulty technique.

-- Peter Schickele
Offline
User avatar

odinthor

  • Posts: 546
  • Joined: Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:16 pm
  • Location: Southern California

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

PostThu Aug 10, 2017 5:45 pm

Brudeferden i Hardanger, which is to say The Bridal Party in Hardanger, 1926. Directed by Rasmus Breistein. This visually beautiful film, beautifully restored by the Norwegian Film Institute, could be called epic in its leap of decades; and yet it always feels very intimate and personal. We focus on a beautiful, strong-willed, Norwegian lass who abruptly decides not to accompany her parental family to America, mainly because of her love for a Norwegian lad Anders. The story is very slight--as Samuel Johnson said of the novel Clarissa, anyone who availed himself of it for the story would hang himself on finishing it--but, as with Clarissa, we are not so much interested in the story as we are in plumbing the feelings of the characters and the effect of the physical environment; and in this we see a forerunner of the films of Ingmar Bergman. Sensitively acted by Aase Bye and Gunhild Schytte-Jacobsen as the main character Marit (respectively when young and when old), with Henry Gleditsch and Oscar Larsen as her beloved young/old Anders and Vilhelm Lund as the true-hearted Tore (whom we only see in his young incarnation). While the film gives us dramatic situations, viewers should not expect vivid or exciting action. In compensation, we have loving, lingering shots of the scenery, to good effect; and, at times, the film seems like a wonderful travelogue introducing us to the beauties of Norway; on the camera was Gunnar Nilsen-Vig. A brooding, worthy film for fanciers of the brooding Scandinavian ethos.
_____
"She confessed subsequently to Cottard that she found me remarkably enthusiastic; he replied that I was too emotional, that I needed sedatives, and that I ought to take up knitting." —Marcel Proust (Cities of the Plain).
Offline

earlytalkiebuffRob

  • Posts: 2553
  • Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:53 am

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

PostFri Aug 11, 2017 2:11 pm

A real oddity from the Eastman House, and partially based on a real disaster, THE WRATH OF THE GODS (1914) is a Japan-set drama about a family supposedly cursed by Buddha for a killing committed in a temple, a curse which has been going on an awfully long time, When the last female in the line is being wooed by a young fellow, he is immediately deterred when an ancient prophet tells of the curse. Soon after, a ship is wrecked nearby, and the sole survivor falls in love...

The religious side of THE WRATH OF THE GODS is hard to swallow, as no sooner does the daughter (who has renounced Buddha) speak of the Curse, than the young sailor (Frank Borzage) tells her that it is all nonsense, but his god is the one to go to. This after his shipmates have all presumably perished, and one later sees the father (SPOILER) convert, only to be slaughtered by a mob of crazed Japanese. A slightly muddled, rather illogical tale, partially salvaged by a lively finale. Sessue Hayakawa plays the father, in this, his debut, and later married the lady who played his daughter - shades of Old Mother Riley!
Offline
User avatar

boblipton

  • Posts: 4823
  • Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:01 pm
  • Location: Clement Clarke Moore's Farm

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

PostFri Aug 11, 2017 2:15 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:A real oddity from the Eastman House, and partially based on a real disaster, THE WRATH OF THE GODS (1914) is a Japan-set drama about a family supposedly cursed by Buddha for a killing committed in a temple, a curse which has been going on an awfully long time, When the last female in the line is being wooed by a young fellow, he is immediately deterred when an ancient prophet tells of the curse. Soon after, a ship is wrecked nearby, and the sole survivor falls in love...

The religious side of THE WRATH OF THE GODS is hard to swallow, as no sooner does the daughter (who has renounced Buddha) speak of the Curse, than the young sailor (Frank Borzage) tells her that it is all nonsense, but his god is the one to go to. This after his shipmates have all presumably perished, and one later sees the father (SPOILER) convert, only to be slaughtered by a mob of crazed Japanese. A slightly muddled, rather illogical tale, partially salvaged by a lively finale. Sessue Hayakawa plays the father, in this, his debut, and later married the lady who played his daughter - shades of Old Mother Riley!



I don't know in what order they were released elsewhere, but there were four of films with Hayakawa issued before this one, in the US, at any rate.

Bob
His plagiarism was limited only by his faulty technique.

-- Peter Schickele
PreviousNext

Return to Talking About Silents

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests