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

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

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

PostTue Oct 24, 2017 1:10 pm

Finally got around to von Sternberg's UNDERWORLD (1927), and what a movie! Differing from later 'organised crime' movies, George Bancroft's 'Bull' Weed is more of a one-man crime wave, robbing banks and jewelry stores single-handed, though with pal 'Rolls-Royce' (Clive Brook) always in the background. When 'Bull' is arrested for the killing of a rival crook who tries it on with his girl (Evelyn Brent - 'Feathers') he starts worrying that the two are carrying-on while he's facing the drop.

Fast paced and exciting, UNDERWORLD is perhaps more stylised than realistic (in the 'spitoon' scene, one wonders why 'Rolls-Royce' is sweeping up in front of customers) and holds the attention superbly from start to the slam-bang finale. With such top people as Bert Glennon and Hans Drier behind the camera one is surprised that Paramount had so little faith in this. And it may take a few seconds before recognising Mr Brook as the unkempt alcoholic bum Bancroft rescues. And watch out for another scene stealing kitty...
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Red Bartlett

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

PostWed Oct 25, 2017 10:33 am

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Finally got around to von Sternberg's UNDERWORLD (1927), and what a movie! Differing from later 'organised crime' movies, George Bancroft's 'Bull' Weed is more of a one-man crime wave, robbing banks and jewelry stores single-handed, though with pal 'Rolls-Royce' (Clive Brook) always in the background. When 'Bull' is arrested for the killing of a rival crook who tries it on with his girl (Evelyn Brent - 'Feathers') he starts worrying that the two are carrying-on while he's facing the drop.

Fast paced and exciting, UNDERWORLD is perhaps more stylised than realistic (in the 'spitoon' scene, one wonders why 'Rolls-Royce' is sweeping up in front of customers) and holds the attention superbly from start to the slam-bang finale. With such top people as Bert Glennon and Hans Drier behind the camera one is surprised that Paramount had so little faith in this. And it may take a few seconds before recognising Mr Brook as the unkempt alcoholic bum Bancroft rescues. And watch out for another scene stealing kitty...

The Three Silent Classics by Sternberg is at the top of my Criterion blu-ray-upgrade wishlist. I missed the DVDs.

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earlytalkiebuffRob

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

PostWed Oct 25, 2017 2:11 pm

Re-watched John Ford's FOUR SONS (1928) as I had never seen it with the Movietone soundtrack. If you can take sentiment / sentimentality in films, I can recommend this very strongly as it had the old eyes very moist a number of times. There is a deal of kindly humour as well to lighten things a bit.

Set in a rather idealised German village, it tells of a widow (Margaret Mann) and her four sons and how the family is devastated by the Great War after her second son Joseph (James Hall) emigrates to America. One of many memorable Ford mothers (Henrietta Crossman, Alice Brady, Jane Darwell, Sara Allgood), this film preshadows the family breakups seen in THE GRAPES OF WRATH and HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY, and is packed with emotion. One also sees the contrast between decent-living Germans and the brutal military types introduced before the War, with the slaughter of a cat being particularly callous and contemptible.

Mann's oldest remaining sons Franz and Johann (SPOILER) are reported dead early on in the film, but the youngest, Andreas, is later called up to replace Joseph, who is seen as a traitor. Their mother is also seen as a traitor, despite having lost two sons already. Further tragedy strikes when Joseph (who has been called up with his pal the ice-man) hear a voice on the battlefield calling "Mutterchen" ('little mother') only to find out too late it is Andreas. The mood of the film lightens after Peace, when Mann receives a letter saying she is wanted in America, and so the journey continues...

I recall David Shipton (who could be a grump at times) being super-critical of the music used in this film, which admittedly is a bit of a stew of well-known pieces, as well as the usual 'theme song' ('Little Mother', sung over the visuals at the end). It is sentimental in the extreme, but this suits the film very well, which is a tear-jerker of the first water. The sound effects, too, are well used, and the calling of "Mutterchen" over the mist-strewn battlefields is very effective indeed.

And while I would agree that the artistry in the film is rather self-conscious, it does not work against the film, which is absorbing and moving throughout. Ford regular Jack Pennick, though billed last has a substantial role as the New York ice-man with a particularly healthy appetite.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Oct 28, 2017 8:53 am

The Parson's Widow, a Carl Dreyer from 1920 has been seen by me before but following discussions on "Michael," I decided to revisit what amounts to a religious/drama/comedy of the ministry with some truly supernatural implications. The question, is the widow a Witch or Heavenly spirit?, is never answered directly, but it's clear she has become the living spirit of the parsonage. There are a few spoilers in this review but there's much that's unsaid about what's seen in the film. Not an exciting story, but certainly one that deserves to be watched carefully.
It's a story about a village in need of a new preacher and how they must decide on one of three candidates for the position. If you've ever been involved in selecting a new minister for your church this part of the film would be familiar.
Sofren, the third candidate is the central character in the story, and while he had the proper training, he certainly has much to learn before becoming a parson. His fiancée, Mari is not revealed to the townsfolk during the selection process and when Sofren is selected, the Church elders reveal he must agree to marry the previous parson's widow if he wants to take the position of their new spiritual leader. Never revealing his relationship with Mari, Sofren agrees, seeing how the old woman surely won't be around much longer. At least he thinks this.
Dame Margarete, the parson's widow gets Sofren deliriously drunk and persuades him to ask her to marry him in front of witnesses. During the Church Wedding Ceremony, we see this will be the forth wedding band placed on Margarete's fingers.
Alone with Safren in the parsonage, she tells him in a series of titles, "My Lot is not an easy one. This is the fourth time I must be handed over like a piece of furniture to whomever claims me..." "But I am attached to this place, to every chair and candlestick..." "...and if you part with what has become so important to your life, your innermost heart gets torn open. And you die..." After a long gaze at Safren, Margarete asks, "You are not engaged to any young maiden, are you?"
Initially, Sofren says no, but eventually the truth is revealed after he persuaded the widow to allow Mari to live at the parsonage as a helper, first claiming she was his sister.
Sofren, realizes in spite of her age, his new bride may outlive him, so he and Mari devise tricks to play on her, hoping to scare her to death. Each time, Dame Margarete reminds Sofren it would be best for him to spend his time in prayer and preparing the weekly sermons instead of wasting his time trying to be rid of her. One of Safren's many tricks backfires, seriously injuring Mari. From then on, the widow spent her days nursing Mari back to health.
Over time, the three grew together as friends and we learn the young couple are in much the same boat as Margarete and her first husband were, for he too had to wait until the other widow died before they could be married.
Finally, Dame Margarete's days come to and end and we see her say goodbye to the parsonage and everything in it. They awake to discover she passed on in the night, leaving instructions including the placing of a horseshoe over the door to prevent her from haunting them.
Margarete funeral is attended by all with fond memories of the old woman. The parson Safren and Mari reflect on how much the old woman had taught them to be more responsible. As the image dissolves to black it first fades with a white cross superimposed over Safren and Mari together.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Oct 28, 2017 9:20 am

Underworld really is terrific. What kept distracting me though was the uncanny similarity between Fred Kohler's Buck Mulligan and Robert Shaw's Doyle Lonnegan from The Sting.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Oct 28, 2017 2:25 pm

The Silent House (1929) directed by Walter Forde is a stylish British silent about some stolen jewels, a spooky house full of secret passageways, and an ominous Chinese lord. Poor young George Winsford inherits his uncle's house but is unaware that the uncle had stolen some Chinese temple jewels, which are hidden in the house. Chang Fu (Gibb McLaughlin) has followed the uncle back to England and has set up a network of spies. He also has the daughter (Mabel Poulton) of the uncle's late partner under his hypnotic spell. Luckily, the uncle's loyal servant is also in the house. Poulton (below) was one of the biggest stars in England's late silent period. She plays T'Mala. Arthur Pusey plays young Winsford, and Gerald Rawlinson plays his pal Capt. Barty. Some great camera work and an exciting finale, which includes a shrinking room and a gaping pit full of .....

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

PostSat Oct 28, 2017 3:10 pm

I'm going to write more about the details of If My Country Should Call (1916) than I think appropriate, risking spoiling those details for anyone who hasn't seen it, so: a warning and an apology.

The first thing that should be noted about this movie is that only about half of it survives of its original five reels: most of reels two and thee, and the final half of the the fifth reel. There is extensive decomposition on those portions. Nonetheless, because of a significant early role by Lon Chaney (in a white wig), Chaney superfan Jon Mirsalis paid for the transfer and wrote and performed a new score for Lon Chaney: Before the Thousand Faces, a dvd available from Ben Model's Undercrank Productions.

Dorothy Phillips has her husband go off to Europe on business, where he finds himself joining a war; in the meantime, her son, who is engaged, wants to volunteer for the US Army because war with Mexico looks imminent. However, Lon Chaney has developed a "heart depressant" and Dorothy steals some and administers it to her son, so he is too sickly to join the army. Because of his illness, his fiancee breaks their engagement and marries another man. It all turns out to be a dream, and when she wakes, she realizes that a man has to do what a man has to do and a woman must go along with it.

It's still early days for feature production, and the two-and-a-half-reels of the movie that survives are more than adequate for the story. The synopsis offered indicates that the story is eked out with a prologue that stretches the story out for several decades, indicating that it was felt that a feature had to have a certain depth and breadth that this movie attempts to show rather clumsily. In addition, the "it was all a dream" ending and the moral of the story, which does not seem to follow from any of the action -- other than things turning out nightmarishly --looks like another attempt to pad a solid two-reeler into feature length.

Miss Phillips' performance is broad and melodramatic. The other actors are more restrained, which indicates that it is a vehicle for Miss Phillips. All in all, I was not impressed, although it's good to see this early work from a period when Hollywood was still getting on its feet as a factory town, when Universal, the production company for this flick, would become the largest producer of movies in the world for a time.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Fri Nov 17, 2017 1:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Oct 29, 2017 4:28 am

oldposterho wrote:Underworld really is terrific. What kept distracting me though was the uncanny similarity between Fred Kohler's Buck Mulligan and Robert Shaw's Doyle Lonnegan from The Sting.


And was it a deliberate 'in' joke to use a name from James Joyce's 'Ulysses'?
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Oct 29, 2017 4:36 am

Took a punt on the Spanish FRIVOLINAS [Cine-Teatro'](1926) as my Spanish consists of the odd word or two as well as the words which are very similar to those in English. A comedy centred around a respectable man with an eye (and wandering hands) for the ladies*, interspersed with a number of variety acts, some of which are rather well matched with the recordings chosen to accompany them. IOne of them, a clown-magician called 'Ramper' is also involved in the plot. The film reminded me of THE REVUE OF REVUES (1927) in places, and was certainly entertaining and amusing in parts, despite some rather long and (to me) incomprehensible titles. A 'national costume' number was similar to some I have seen in early musicals, although in some cases, the scenes were very brief - shorter than the titles. This could well be due to the fact that the film is a reconstruction, some of which is presumably missing. A curiosity, but a pleasing one.

*IMDb cleared up one point. He is a widower, and the woman I assumed was his young, but neglected wife, was in fact his daughter! The fellow who was chasing after her was the clown minus make-up...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Oct 29, 2017 4:52 am

drednm wrote:The Silent House (1929) directed by Walter Forde is a stylish British silent about some stolen jewels, a spooky house full of secret passageways, and an ominous Chinese lord. Poor young George Winsford inherits his uncle's house but is unaware that the uncle had stolen some Chinese temple jewels, which are hidden in the house. Chang Fu (Gibb McLaughlin) has followed the uncle back to England and has set up a network of spies. He also has the daughter (Mabel Poulton) of the uncle's late partner under his hypnotic spell. Luckily, the uncle's loyal servant is also in the house. Poulton (below) was one of the biggest stars in England's late silent period. She plays T'Mala. Arthur Pusey plays young Winsford, and Gerald Rawlinson plays his pal Capt. Barty. Some great camera work and an exciting finale, which includes a shrinking room and a gaping pit full of .....

Image


The delightful Miss Poulton was also on show in THE RETURN OF THE RAT (1929) which deserves another uploading...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon Oct 30, 2017 1:21 pm

THE COLLEGE HERO (1927), which appears to have a synchronised score, is a pleasant, though little, more hour's worth. Robert Agnew plays an awkward-looking fellow, who fresh to college, is picked on by local bighead Rex Lease and his odious chums, and making him fall foul of attractive fellow freshman Pauline Garon. Within minutes, Agnew has bested Lease in a scrap and beaten him to the affections of Miss Garon. The two become friends on the football pitch then rivals when Lease falls for Garon.

The film's main interest is as a programmer of its type, and an early film from Walter Lang. On hand too is Joan Standing (related to Sir Guy) as Garon's awkward roommate in a scene which creeps into cruelty, until, like Agnew, she becomes accepted as well. Ben Turpin is here as well as the College's oldest student, who has been working his way since 1874. Quite a slight piece, with the usual college ingredients as well as no indication as to what the students are supposed to be studying, but a harmless piece of fluff.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue Oct 31, 2017 1:49 pm

From Denmark, THE HILL PARK MYSTERY (1923) has a mystery of its own, as the title and character names suggest an English setting. However, the mention of Copenhagen would indicate that the character names are merely Anglicised.

That said, the film is a handsomely restored comedy-thriller with a dose of romance. Jimmy Brand, exhausted after solving a murder for his paper, is ordered to take a fortnight's leave. Just before setting off, he sees a young woman clouting a fellow, seemingly having killed him. The police are not in the least helpful, so, with his police inspector friend, he decides to follow the trail, finding that the lady he seeks is not only very charming, but the Home Secretary's daughter, Joan.

Naturally he has made a complete pig's-ear of things, but although we know he is barking up the wrong tree, we are not sure how, until all is revealed at the end. Smartly paced and amusingly played, with just the right sense of fun to it.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue Oct 31, 2017 7:15 pm

With power restored after a non-hurricane wiped out electrical service to more than 60% of Maine in just a few hours Sunday night, I watched A Mother's Atonement (1915) with Cleo Madison playing dual roles of mother and daughter in a story of class divisions. Lon Chaney and Wyndham Standing also appear. Some very nice shots, like Cleo rowing her boat into the sun-dappled waters. Nice score by Jon Mirsalis. Only beef is that the titles whizzed by a little fast.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostTue Oct 31, 2017 11:26 pm

Last night I caught The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse on TCM. The film still holds up very well, I think. Regardless of the obvious interest in Valentino, the whole package is a pretty good film.

Well cast, it features Alice Terry in her most expressive performance (I often find her mannered, transparent and dull). Beery in a nice hate the hun role. Nigel de Brulier as the "Christ figure" philosopher which shows up in many of June Mathis' scripts. Valentino, very early on in his career, shows he was a fine actor. He does not mug like he was asked to in later films like The Sheik and even Blood and Sand.

The film sweeps you along to the inevitable finish, with lots in between. Carl Davis score is wonderful, powerful in the right moments and tender in the romantic moments. Brownlow and Gill's reconstruction is fabulous. I do wish the film would get a bit of a more modern cleanup. It's looking a hair soft these days compared to more recent film restorations.

John Seitz as primary cameraman shows what a great talent he was. His inky blacks and shafts of light really add to the drama.

A terrific film and I was happy to revisit it.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostThu Nov 02, 2017 11:43 am

I was able to watch Das Eskimobaby (1918) starring Asta Nielsen in a comedic role that was, well let's just say not done anymore. She played an Eskimo woman brought back from Greenland by an explorer/scientist/anthropologist or something. Anyway, you can see where this is going with the "primitive" Nielsen hamming it up as the childlike Ivigtut and her companion Knut's family acting shocked whenever she does something. I try not to be too offended by 100 year old films but this one rubbed me the wrong way. I really hated the implication of Ivigtut acting so juvenile and being treated like a child by her husband. It was just uncomfortable viewing all around.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostThu Nov 02, 2017 3:06 pm

Vingarne (1916), which is to say Wings; directed by Mauritz Stiller; starring Egil Eide, Lars Hanson, Lili Beck, plus, fleetingly, Nils Asther. Poignant, interesting film, with a framing device which will leave many scratching their heads. Familiarity with classical mythology (Dædalus and Icarus; Zeus and Ganymede) will help inform the careful viewer’s reaction to this coyly nuanced film about the relationship between an established artist (painter/sculptor) and a handsome young artist just embarking on his career and adult life. The nature of the viewer’s receptivity to gay themes will direct the viewer’s understanding of this relationship. In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, how are we to gauge the feelings which Antonio and Bassanio share (or don’t share)? What precisely is going on in Death in Venice? The æsthete must set his or her own dial to calibrate these considerations, especially here as Stiller does everything he can to make the situation ambiguous: Dædalus and Icarus (hence the Wings) are father and son; the relationship between Zeus and Ganymede is an erotic one. For me to discuss this aspect further vis-à-vis my own read on it would constitute a spoiler, and so I draw the curtain. As always in Swedish film, the actors one and all thoroughly inhabit their roles. In these earlier Swedish films, the acting nevertheless tends to be more the modern naturalistic style than the mannered theatrical style one anticipates of the era; even so, this film is a bit more mannered in places, but for a reason: The bulk of the film, we are to understand, is a stage production—quite a conceit, in view of the outdoor scenes; but the occasional mannerism is, I believe, to remind us of this status. The framing device lacks this mannerismo. Ah, the framing device! In the current state of the film, the framing device is brought back to us, largely successfully, by stills and title cards. Intriguingly, the tone of the frame is light-hearted, comic, indeed self-deprecatory, in stark contrast to the seriousness and increasing melancholy of the main story. Clearly, Stiller wants to keep us off-balance about the film—which I find to be an aspect which enriches the whole; others will look blankly at each other and say, “What the heck was that?” Worthy, sometimes striking, work behind the camera from Julius Jaenzon. A very satisfying and memorable offering.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Nov 03, 2017 12:51 pm

rudyfan wrote:Last night I caught The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse on TCM. The film still holds up very well, I think. Regardless of the obvious interest in Valentino, the whole package is a pretty good film.


I only caught the end the other night. I burned a copy off TCM about 8 years ago, but it's one I'd like to see restored.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostFri Nov 03, 2017 4:02 pm

Having read a book on what a woman should know by the time she is forty-five, Constance Talmadge has become a love expert -- indeed, The Love Expert (1920) and is ejected from the girl's school she attends. When she refuses to be polite to her father's business partner and pastor because she does not feel the instant pangs of love, he cries that enough is enough, and sends her to stay with her aunt Marion Sitgreave in wintry Boston. She immediately feels those pangs for her aunt's fiance of six years, John Haliday, decides to cut auntie out on the grounds that they're not really in love; his excuse for a long engagement being two dependent sisters and elderly aunt, she totes them down to Palm Beach, where passion can flow among the youngsters and tropical disease slay the old.

This sort of self-assured flapper, snapping her fingers in the face of propriety and getting away with it was a favorite theme of 1920s comedy; certainly Marion Davies enjoyed appearing in this sort of vehicle whenever Hearst allowed her out of costume dramas. What makes this a particularly delightful example of the genre is not just Miss Talmadge's blithe playing of the self-assured young idiot, but the happy writing that surrounds her, thanks to John Emerson and Anita Loos, who provide not only a funny scenario, but some fine, witty titles that made me giggle, illustrating the heartless self-adoration that seems to be the province of the young -- until we take a look at the world and see it all around us.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Fri Nov 17, 2017 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Nov 04, 2017 5:39 pm

Mme. de Thèbes, alias Son of Fate (1915). Swedish film directed by Mauritz Stiller, with Karin Molander, Ragna Wettergreen, Nicolai Johanssen, and Albin Lavén, inter alia. Gypsies! A father's curse! Babies switched not quite at birth! Deathbed revelation! Rival families! Mystical prediction! Supernatural manifestation! Political intrigue! A mother's dilemma! This entertaining film is perhaps less sensationalistic than it might sound with all of these elements; and yet they're all there. Acted with conviction and skill by all concerned, well directed by Stiller and beautifully photographed by Julius Jaenzon, and brought back to us with the help of just a few stills to fill in lost bits, this film pays no dividends in human insights or philosophical depth, but rewards the viewer with an interesting tale and no longueurs.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSat Nov 04, 2017 10:21 pm

The Pagan (1929), with Ramon Novarro, Renée Adorée, Donald Crisp, and Dorothy Janis. I think I've reviewed this before, so I'll mostly spare you further blather. It seems to me that Ramon is at his Ramoniest in this pic, which as far as I am concerned is a great thing--charismatic, playful, willful. A beautiful, deeply-felt performance by Miss Adorée which I appreciate more with each viewing.
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"She confessed subsequently to Cottard that she found me remarkably enthusiastic; he replied that I was too emotional, that I needed sedatives, and that I ought to take up knitting." —Marcel Proust (Cities of the Plain).
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Nov 05, 2017 12:50 pm

SAND (1920) has William S Hart as a railroad worker sent to replace the official who is felt to be too old for the job. Arriving there he finds the old man's daughter (Mary Thurman) is his sweetheart from a while back. Mixed in with this plot is a series of mysterious robberies, and a store owner (G Raymond Nye) who has designs on the girl in addition to plenty of other dirty work. On top of that is Hart's mysterious past, which includes someone he is very fond of, much to the daughter's distress. Of course there is more to meet the eye in this aspect of the plot as Hart assumes Thurman is in love with the bounder. An entertaining yarn, with a little more humour than one expects from Hart, in which all the plot threads come together very neatly and happily. Directed by Lambert Hillyer, with camerawork from the great Joe August.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Nov 05, 2017 6:27 pm

In Solitaires (1913) Leo Delaney gets a letter from a friend asking him to buy an engagement ring for him. Deciding he needs a woman's touch, he recruits his neighbor, Norma Talmadge. When Florence Ashbrooke spots them in a jeweler's store poring over the diamonds, it becomes common gossip they are to be wed, much to Miss Talmadge's embarrassment.

This charming Vitagraph short, directed by Van Dyke Brooke, can be found at Eye Institute site on Youtube. It is not, alas, a very good copy. The print from which it was transferred has clearly suffered a lot of decomposition. However, the actors play their roles in a simple and naturalistic manner that will please an audience inclined to look at these movies.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Fri Dec 01, 2017 7:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Nov 05, 2017 10:56 pm

For anyone who is eligible to subscribe, I recommend Kanopy, which allows you to stream 10 movies per month via your library card number (New York Public Library is among those eligible). My only warning is to be sure not to click on a film unless you are ready to watch it right away, otherwise you can go down from your alloted 10 in a hurry!

That said, tonight I found, and watched again, Lubitsch's The Marriage Circle. I only had seen this wonderful film once before many years ago at MoMA in New York. It's the version put on DVD by David Shepard with the Mont Alto score and has a lovely sepia type tinting throughout. Interesting that I remembered having seen Florence Vidor and Adolphe Menjou as well in Are Parents People? for our last Watch That Movie Night though they are not a couple in this one. Marie Prevost is memorable and I would like to see more of her starring roles.

Is Lady Windemere's Fan on DVD or streaming anywhere? I saw it at MoMA also perhaps around the same time.
- Rosemary
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Mike Gebert

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

PostSun Nov 05, 2017 11:12 pm

Lady Windermere's Fan was in More Treasures From American Film Archives, not that that helps as the price for used copies is well into three figures now.
“Sentimentality is when it doesn't come off—when it does, you get a true expression of life's sorrows.” —Alain-Fournier
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostSun Nov 05, 2017 11:27 pm

Thanks Mike, I do remember how much I was impressed by that as well.
- Rosemary
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon Nov 06, 2017 2:25 pm

Thomas Graals bästa film (1917), which is to say Thomas Graal's Best Film. With Victor Sjöström, Karin Molander, Albin Lavén, etc., of note is that the roles of two photographers are played by Gustaf Boge and Henrik Jaenzon, both of them cinematographers themselves, Jaenzon (brother of another cinematographer Julius Jaenzon) at the camera on this very show. I can hardly say enough about how this film surprised, enchanted, and amused me, indeed exacting several laughs out loud in its course. Mr. Sjöström unexpectedly has a deft touch with acting comedy, playing a lazy screenwriter/actor here, while Miss Molander gives us a spirited and sweetly spoiled young aristocratic lass whom, if you don't fall in love with, you do not have a pulse. The structure of the film is effortlessly sophisticated, showing that truth is just as amusing as fiction, and perhaps a good substitute for it. I found the show to have quite a modern feel to it--a blithe and breezy rom com. The copy I viewed seemed to be from a British release--at least, it had seemingly contemporary titles in British-tinged English. A very fine, charming, and recommendable silent comedy which no cinephile should miss.
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"She confessed subsequently to Cottard that she found me remarkably enthusiastic; he replied that I was too emotional, that I needed sedatives, and that I ought to take up knitting." —Marcel Proust (Cities of the Plain).
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon Nov 06, 2017 2:50 pm

Unseen Cinema Part 1 This ran on TCM last night. There's always a reason why unseen cinema is unseen and sometimes it's because people don't get it and sometimes it's because there's nothing to get.

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

PostMon Nov 06, 2017 5:15 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:Lady Windermere's Fan was in More Treasures From American Film Archives, not that that helps as the price for used copies is well into three figures now.


Mont Alto will be premiering a new score for Lady Windermere's Fan at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival's Day of Silents on December 5 fifth this year. I certainly hope I can get another screening or two, here or there.

The film is really wonderful: there's not an wasted shot, and the actors are uniformly excellent (especially Irene Rich and Ronald Colman). Lubitsch will hold the camera on a face while it goes through an entire train of thought, so entire scenes are run with minimal titles, but you still know precisely what's going on.

Having seen Lubitsch's Berlin comedies since I first played for this film a decade ago, I'm noticing some of his burlesque bits showing up (toned down a bit) in this film. This is particularly evident in a large crowd of nearly identical well-dressed men who show up at the race track and at Lady Windermere's party, like a gratuitous chorus line from a musical.

Lubitsch also includes plenty of humor in how he frames a scene, masks a shot, or shoots one entire scene cutting out a man's face. These directorial flourishes are always done with the audience in on the joke, so it makes you feel cleverer just watching it.

I re-read the Wilde play while I was scoring the film, and verified that only two of the lines from the play are reproduced in the film's titles. Pretty much all of Wilde's witty epigrams were replaced by witty film-making. Highly recommended.
Rodney Sauer
The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
www.mont-alto.com
"Let the Music do the Talking!"
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon Nov 06, 2017 6:13 pm

Hämnaren (1915), which is to say The Avenger, directed by Mauritz Stiller, and with Vilhelm Hansson, Karin Molander, John Ekman, and Edith Erastoff. Interesting, fraught movie, dealing with societal difficulties between intolerant Christians and Jews. Deeply-felt, authentic performances by all concerned overcome a rather elaborate and creaky plot. I can't outdo the fine, lone, review at IMDB, by Greengagesummer, and so with pleasure send those wishing more details there http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0006386/reviews?ref_=tt_ov_rt.
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"She confessed subsequently to Cottard that she found me remarkably enthusiastic; he replied that I was too emotional, that I needed sedatives, and that I ought to take up knitting." —Marcel Proust (Cities of the Plain).
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2017]

PostMon Nov 06, 2017 6:35 pm

Balletprimadonnan (1916), which is to say The Ballet Prima Donna, alias Wolo czawienko, directed by Mauritz Stiller, and starring Lars Hanson, Dagmar Ebbesen, and Richard Lund. A talented peasant girl, and the talented peasant guy who loves her, both find success; but oh--wouldn't you just know it?--there is a romantic complication and skullduggery. The few fragments of the film we have left--the story filled in for us by stills--are of good length, and show sensitive and beautiful performances by Mr. Hanson, seeming particularly engaged and intense here, and Miss Ebbesen, with striking photography by Julius Jaenzon. Stiller's direction shows a great maturation from his efforts of the previous year. It will be a happy day when and if the missing portions of this film are found.
_____
"She confessed subsequently to Cottard that she found me remarkably enthusiastic; he replied that I was too emotional, that I needed sedatives, and that I ought to take up knitting." —Marcel Proust (Cities of the Plain).
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