What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

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? [2018]

PostSun May 20, 2018 1:55 pm

I presume ROMANCE OF THE UNDERWORLD was a better copy than the one I watched on YT in early 2016...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostSun May 20, 2018 2:23 pm

After a forty-year+ wait I finally watched BLUE JEANS (1917) last night, but wasn't as involved as I had hoped to be. This may have been more due to having a longish day than anything else, as there were obvious virtues to the film, despite being marred by a good deal of decomposition at the beginning which made this section occasionally confusing.

Viola Dana plays Junie, a waif who has left or been turfed out of the institution she has been living in since her mother died and is now homeless and starving. She tries to steal some food from Perry (Robert D Walker), who is travelling by penny-farthing to take over the family mill at a nearby small town.

The plotting here is rather involved in places, but concerns political corruption, Perry's very attractive but scheming 'wife' (who was already married when they 'wed'), who is out to cause trouble and the kindly couple who take Junie in and find that they are in fact her grandparents! The latter element is particularly complicated when it turns out that a rotten relative of Perry's was responsible for their daughter's downfall and death and that the pair (now married) may actually be brother and sister. Oddly enough, this early whiff of incest has echoes of another film, GODLESS MEN, which also has a good part for the splendid Russell Simpson.

In this film, Simpson's (sporting Lincolnesque whiskers) character turns almost unbelievably unforgiving when he realises what Junie has done, telling her to renounce Perry (who has changed his name) in addition to turfing her out without a cent. The rest of the film is suitably melodramatic, with the poor girl having a child (whom the parson refuses to baptise) and being evicted, as well as the foul politician (who lusts after the 'wife') deciding the best way of disposing of Perry is to stuff him in the sawmill, even though it is clear that the game is all up with him.

BLUE JEANS will certainly require re-seeing as it is often beautifully observed, with an excellent pictorial sense as well as a very good feel for place and period. And good to see the great Mr Simpson in another meaty role. I haven't verified yet whether he ever played Lincoln, and don't think he did (on film, anyway), but he definitely should have had a go at it...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostSun May 20, 2018 2:31 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:After a forty-year+ wait I finally watched BLUE JEANS (1917) last night, but wasn't as involved as I had hoped to be. This may have been more due to having a longish day than anything else, as there were obvious virtues to the film, despite being marred by a good deal of decomposition at the beginning which made this section occasionally confusing.

Viola Dana plays Junie, a waif who has left or been turfed out of the institution she has been living in since her mother died and is now homeless and starving. She tries to steal some food from Perry (Robert D Walker), who is travelling by penny-farthing to take over the family mill at a nearby small town.

The plotting here is rather involved in places, but concerns political corruption, Perry's very attractive but scheming 'wife' (who was already married when they 'wed'), who is out to cause trouble and the kindly couple who take Junie in and find that they are in fact her grandparents! The latter element is particularly complicated when it turns out that a rotten relative of Perry's was responsible for their daughter's downfall and death and that the pair (now married) may actually be brother and sister. Oddly enough, this early whiff of incest has echoes of another film, GODLESS MEN, which also has a good part for the splendid Russell Simpson.

In this film, Simpson's (sporting Lincolnesque whiskers) character turns almost unbelievably unforgiving when he realises what Junie has done, telling her to renounce Perry (who has changed his name) in addition to turfing her out without a cent. The rest of the film is suitably melodramatic, with the poor girl having a child (whom the parson refuses to baptise) and being evicted, as well as the foul politician (who lusts after the 'wife') deciding the best way of disposing of Perry is to stuff him in the sawmill, even though it is clear that the game is all up with him.

BLUE JEANS will certainly require re-seeing as it is often beautifully observed, with an excellent pictorial sense as well as a very good feel for place and period. And good to see the great Mr Simpson in another meaty role. I haven't verified yet whether he ever played Lincoln, and don't think he did (on film, anyway), but he definitely should have had a go at it...


Here’s one that needs seeing for the great meller bit as the great saw comes nearer and nearer. How was the print in that section?

Bob
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostMon May 21, 2018 5:42 am

It was over to the Museum of Modern Art for some silent Howard Hawks. Fazil is a movie that at a retrospective had Hawks banging at the projector room door shouting to turn off the film. When I saw it several years ago, I didn't think it was that bad, but it wasn't worth seeing again, so it made for a nice break.

Hawks' second film as director and his oldest survivor has gorgeous housewife Olive Borden married to gorgeous plumber George O'Brien. She wants lots of new clothes, the Fig Leaves of the title, and designer Georges Beranger offers to make her a model -- and hopes to make her, too.

It's a completely undistinguished journeyman comedy, eked out with a Flintstones-like prologue and epilogue, a fashion show (originally presented in two-strip Technicolor, although only black-and-white elements have survived) and Heinie Conklin as O'Brien's comic assistant who is not in the least funny. Phyllis Haver has some funny bits as a trouble-making neighbor, but despite the leads putting a lot of energy into their performance, the film is flat, predictable and rarely funny. Its only interest is that it is a Hawks film, which, unless you're a complete believer that everything an auteur does is brilliant and you'll figure out how after you've thought about it long enough, is no recommendation.

Paid to Love (1927) is another matter. J. Farrel MacDonald is negotiating to lend King Thomas Jefferson enough money to keep his money afloat, but feels that the Crown Prince, George O'Brien, should be married or engaged to make him and the dynasty more popular. The trouble is he isn't interested in anything without a carburetor. So the two old gentlemen head off to Paris to find a woman to jump-start his interest and come back with Virginia Valli, set her up with clothes and money and offer her a big bonus if she succeeds. However, the prince's cousin, William Powell -- the rotter! -- interferes with their plans...

It's the sort of story that I might have expected to have seen from Paramount in this period, and Hawks is working with much surer comic performers in uncredited support, like Hank Mann and Henry Armetta. He has established a nicely moving camera under William O'Connell and has some fine comic sequences -- Miss Valli is discovered in a bar in Montmartre where she pretends to kill her boyfriend with a knife to give the tourists a thrill. Even more, he establishes the characters' personalities in single shots and offers a series of "meet cutes". It's only a year since he had first taken up the megaphone, but Hawks is already an assured director of a superior genre movie. His next would be the first of the same story he would tell time and again over more than forty years, A Girl in Every Port.

Bob
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostMon May 21, 2018 2:09 pm

boblipton wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:After a forty-year+ wait I finally watched BLUE JEANS (1917) last night, but wasn't as involved as I had hoped to be. This may have been more due to having a longish day than anything else, as there were obvious virtues to the film, despite being marred by a good deal of decomposition at the beginning which made this section occasionally confusing.

Viola Dana plays Junie, a waif who has left or been turfed out of the institution she has been living in since her mother died and is now homeless and starving. She tries to steal some food from Perry (Robert D Walker), who is travelling by penny-farthing to take over the family mill at a nearby small town.

The plotting here is rather involved in places, but concerns political corruption, Perry's very attractive but scheming 'wife' (who was already married when they 'wed'), who is out to cause trouble and the kindly couple who take Junie in and find that they are in fact her grandparents! The latter element is particularly complicated when it turns out that a rotten relative of Perry's was responsible for their daughter's downfall and death and that the pair (now married) may actually be brother and sister. Oddly enough, this early whiff of incest has echoes of another film, GODLESS MEN, which also has a good part for the splendid Russell Simpson.

In this film, Simpson's (sporting Lincolnesque whiskers) character turns almost unbelievably unforgiving when he realises what Junie has done, telling her to renounce Perry (who has changed his name) in addition to turfing her out without a cent. The rest of the film is suitably melodramatic, with the poor girl having a child (whom the parson refuses to baptise) and being evicted, as well as the foul politician (who lusts after the 'wife') deciding the best way of disposing of Perry is to stuff him in the sawmill, even though it is clear that the game is all up with him.

BLUE JEANS will certainly require re-seeing as it is often beautifully observed, with an excellent pictorial sense as well as a very good feel for place and period. And good to see the great Mr Simpson in another meaty role. I haven't verified yet whether he ever played Lincoln, and don't think he did (on film, anyway), but he definitely should have had a go at it...


Here’s one that needs seeing for the great meller bit as the great saw comes nearer and nearer. How was the print in that section?

Bob


Perfectly fine, especially in comparison to the early sections...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostMon May 21, 2018 2:14 pm

boblipton wrote:It was over to the Museum of Modern Art for some silent Howard Hawks. Fazil is a movie that at a retrospective had Hawks banging at the projector room door shouting to turn off the film. When I saw it several years ago, I didn't think it was that bad, but it wasn't worth seeing again, so it made for a nice break.

Hawks' second film as director and his oldest survivor has gorgeous housewife Olive Borden married to gorgeous plumber George O'Brien. She wants lots of new clothes, the Fig Leaves of the title, and designer Georges Beranger offers to make her a model -- and hopes to make her, too.

It's a completely undistinguished journeyman comedy, eked out with a Flintstones-like prologue and epilogue, a fashion show (originally presented in two-strip Technicolor, although only black-and-white elements have survived) and Heinie Conklin as O'Brien's comic assistant who is not in the least funny. Phyllis Haver has some funny bits as a trouble-making neighbor, but despite the leads putting a lot of energy into their performance, the film is flat, predictable and rarely funny. Its only interest is that it is a Hawks film, which, unless you're a complete believer that everything an auteur does is brilliant and you'll figure out how after you've thought about it long enough, is no recommendation.

Paid to Love (1927) is another matter. J. Farrel MacDonald is negotiating to lend King Thomas Jefferson enough money to keep his money afloat, but feels that the Crown Prince, George O'Brien, should be married or engaged to make him and the dynasty more popular. The trouble is he isn't interested in anything without a carburetor. So the two old gentlemen head off to Paris to find a woman to jump-start his interest and come back with Virginia Valli, set her up with clothes and money and offer her a big bonus if she succeeds. However, the prince's cousin, William Powell -- the rotter! -- interferes with their plans...

It's the sort of story that I might have expected to have seen from Paramount in this period, and Hawks is working with much surer comic performers in uncredited support, like Hank Mann and Henry Armetta. He has established a nicely moving camera under William O'Connell and has some fine comic sequences -- Miss Valli is discovered in a bar in Montmartre where she pretends to kill her boyfriend with a knife to give the tourists a thrill. Even more, he establishes the characters' personalities in single shots and offers a series of "meet cutes". It's only a year since he had first taken up the megaphone, but Hawks is already an assured director of a superior genre movie. His next would be the first of the same story he would tell time and again over more than forty years, A Girl in Every Port.

Bob


I seem to recall reading of a similar projection-room scene when TRENT'S LAST CASE (1929) resurfaced, much to Hawks's embarrassment. And I, too fund FAZIL perfectly enjoyable, if a tad absurd. Will check the source, but a tiny fragment of the Technicolor fashion show from FIG LEAVES (which I've only watched on my laptop) turned up a little while back.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostMon May 21, 2018 2:48 pm

If one reads the plot of HEART'S HAVEN (1922) it may come over as utter piffle and not worthy of watching. Indeed the plot contains elements (spoilers ahead!) of the hoariest: family man married to a Crab-Apple Annie of a slattern is given an important post by a businessman who was once in love with his mother. The businessman's daughter is seriously injured by a fall on a stone, and any attempt at a cure could jeopardise her life. The butler is a hypochondriac with a face like a wet funeral. The dreadful wife sends the family pooch to the dog pound. The family man's son is a cripple who is cured by Grandmother's faith after she comes to live with them having been close to eviction and the poorhouse. The wife is having a fling with ex-flame Jean Hersholt... Not as complicated as it sounds!

Thus baldly stated, one might expect a farrago of silliness, with a couple of doses of Christian Science added for good measure. Having said that, the mixture is surprisingly very palatable, aside from a slow bit in the middle, and the cliches are helped very well by a sympathetic score. Claire McDowell plays the mother and Betty Brice the discontented wife, with a priceless performance from Frank Hayes (who sadly died the following year aged 52) as the gloomy butler*. One might quibble a bit (SPOILER) at the car crash which kills Brice and Hersholt, as one feels it would have been better punishment had they married and made each other miserable, but otherwise this is a nice find and most enjoyable.

*a pratfall down a flight of stairs recalls the wonderful one Jimmy Finlayson took in OUR WIFE (1932).
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostMon May 21, 2018 2:51 pm

I watched the relatively recent restoration (2013) of "The Half-Breed" (1916) with Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., Jewel Carmen, Alma Rubens, Sam De Grasse, Frank Brownlee, Tom Wilson, and George Beranger. Elmo Lincoln has a small part in the film as a doctor, and one of the spectators in the film as an extra is Wyatt Earp. This has just been released through Kino Lorber on Blu-Ray, and it is spectacular, to say the least. It is a compositely restored film from three different sources, and two of the sources are 35mm and one 16mm. In the past only 2 reels and fragments were available, but this restoration is 72 minutes, and the story seems quite complete with excellent continuity. Put together by Cinémathètique and San Francisco Silent Films, the Blu-Ray captures a wonderful element of the spectacular photography of Victor Fleming (!) and the scenery itself, of which much is gorgeous, but otherwise interestingly of its time - and that is supposed to be the 1870's, though frankly the street scenery reminded me of 1916 when the picture was made.

The story is one of social intolerance of the white culture opposed to the American Indian. In the case of Fairbanks, Sr., who plays Lo Dorman (Sleeping Water), he's a "half-breed", his father white, his mother Amerind. Evidently the mother was raped by the father. We find out who the father is, of course, who finds out he IS the father, though he's been disparaging Lo Dorman from being so close emotionally and physically to Jewel Carmen's character, Nellie. This is the main-line story, along with complications between Carmen and Fairbanks' two characters, but a secondary story emerges with Alma Rubens. These, plus tertiary tolerance/intolerance stories thrown in - not just for good measure, but to really make the story rich - and we have a serious film for 1916 that interestingly plays against D. W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation" the year before. I say this because Griffith oversaw the making of "The Half-Breed" and produced it. In "The Half-Breed" we see black people portrayed as equals in the gambling hall and tavern scenes, while the Indians are not. Interesting. We also have to realize that this is the same year that Griffith produced and directed the film "Intolerance".

"The Half-Breed" is also famous for the scene of Fairbanks just coming out of the water after bathing in basically the buff, only a small piece of cloth just barely covering his front. His buttocks are almost wholly exposed. It was considered very controversial in its day. It was put in at Fairbanks' request because his [then] wife Beth thought American Indians were not very clean!, and the fact that he was going to play one in a film was...

Alan Dwan directed the film, and does a fine job, although it must also be remembered that the story, though based on a Bret Harte story, was as much written by Anita Loos and Fairbanks, Sr., and was probably directed as much by Fairbanks, too.

Music composed, arranged, and played by Donald Sosin. Good score!
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostMon May 21, 2018 7:09 pm

EAST SIDE - WEST SIDE (SILENT FILM, 1923)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPUUVWLyM8U&t=607s

Enjoyed this very much. Eileen Percy was gorgeous and really held the character well of a noble young woman trying to do the best for everyone she could.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostMon May 21, 2018 8:23 pm

Finally got to see East Side, West Side (1927) starring George O'Brien and Virginia Valli i a story about New York City, directed by Allan Dwan. A lot of plot is packed into 90 minutes with O'Brien starting out as a barge boy who is taken in by a tailor (ha ha) and his family until he goes off to become a prize fighter. He becomes the protege of a wealthy builder and becomes an engineer working on the city's subway. He eventually becomes engaged to the builder's "ward," but there is a "Titantic" sort of disaster that changes everyone's course. Possibly too much plot and not enough character development, but the film is an eyeful and Dwan shows some stunning shots of 1927 New York, especially in the opening sequences. O'Brien is quite good as the protagonist as is Valli as the Jewish slum girl who becomes a speakeasy singer. Also good are June Collyer as the ward, J. Farrell MacDonald as the boxing manager, Holmes Herbert as the builder, Frank Allworth as Flash, Dore Davidson as the old tailor. Implausible to be sure but it's quite entertaining.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostTue May 22, 2018 6:33 am

drednm wrote:Finally got to see East Side, West Side (1927) starring George O'Brien and Virginia Valli i a story about New York City, directed by Allan Dwan. A lot of plot is packed into 90 minutes with O'Brien starting out as a barge boy who is taken in by a tailor (ha ha) and his family until he goes off to become a prize fighter. He becomes the protege of a wealthy builder and becomes an engineer working on the city's subway. He eventually becomes engaged to the builder's "ward," but there is a "Titantic" sort of disaster that changes everyone's course. Possibly too much plot and not enough character development, but the film is an eyeful and Dwan shows some stunning shots of 1927 New York, especially in the opening sequences. O'Brien is quite good as the protagonist as is Valli as the Jewish slum girl who becomes a speakeasy singer. Also good are June Collyer as the ward, J. Farrell MacDonald as the boxing manager, Holmes Herbert as the builder, Frank Allworth as Flash, Dore Davidson as the old tailor. Implausible to be sure but it's quite entertaining.


I caught this about five years ago at MOMA, at an Allan Dwan retrospective. I'd agree with your summary here - very nicely photographed, and man, Virginia Valli was quite a looker - and Dwan didn't miss any chances to highlight that.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostTue May 22, 2018 6:36 am

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:I presume ROMANCE OF THE UNDERWORLD was a better copy than the one I watched on YT in early 2016...


Tough for me to say, since I haven't seen the YT version! (Tried searching but couldn't find it.) I would say that the print shown at MOMA was far from perfect. The guy sitting next to me even remarked about that, questioning whether they had restored the print. (The program is called "Restorations & Rediscoveries" - maybe this is from the "rediscovery" side of the house...)

I still thought it looked pretty good.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostTue May 22, 2018 1:38 pm

Jess McGrath wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:I presume ROMANCE OF THE UNDERWORLD was a better copy than the one I watched on YT in early 2016...


Tough for me to say, since I haven't seen the YT version! (Tried searching but couldn't find it.) I would say that the print shown at MOMA was far from perfect. The guy sitting next to me even remarked about that, questioning whether they had restored the print. (The program is called "Restorations & Rediscoveries" - maybe this is from the "rediscovery" side of the house...)

I still thought it looked pretty good.


The copy I watched was rather blurred, but that may have been due to the upload or poor reception. Even with this defect and a lack of music, it held the attention well.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostTue May 22, 2018 5:43 pm

Lulù (1923) A monkey eats a supper and prepares for bed. A burglar climbs to his apartment and starts to eat his leftovers, but the monkey awakes and magically subdues him.

This is the last directorial credit of Segundo de Chomon (although he worked as a cinematographer on several movies later in the decade). A decade and a half earlier he had been Gaumont's director of choice for movies to take away Georges Melies' market, but with the collapse of that sort of film by 1912, he was left at loose ends and retreated to being more and more the cameraman he had begun as. This one is done in stop-motion and will remind the viewer of WIllis O'Brien's work for Edison in 1915, although the motion is jerkier and the actions are definitely in the Melies style of magic. The competition would put paid to de Chomon as he had to his a decade earlier. Soon O'Brien's work in The Lost World would set a new standard.

Bob
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostWed May 23, 2018 2:01 pm

LABYRINTH OF HORROR (1921) is a slightly potty title for this early Michael Curtiz film, made in Austria. Set in England, it tells of two factory owners planning a merger when the son of one of them returns home to marry the rather awkward daughter of the other. However the latter owner also has a poor relative living there who is being worked as a slavey* and given the impression that her miserable life is a form of charity. Needless to say, following an accident, love blossoms after the son comes to her rescue and the other girl is rejected.

From then on the plot gets thicker, with the girl getting the sack, finding work in the other factory, then getting the sack when she is accused of a theft committed by her scapegrace brother. His decision to come clean is thwarted by a spectacular train fire and crash, and before long one has a good deal of incident thrown at one, possibly too much for ninety minutes' worth, some of it being a little far fetched, to say the least...

Although there is little to indicate that this is a Curtiz movie (he was a young man, after all), this is nevertheless a decently watchable melodrama despite the rather excessive and highly outrageous ending.

* her reaction to the kittens (9m 08s) is good enough in my book!
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostWed May 23, 2018 7:32 pm

The Silent House (1929): Frank Perfit is writing instructions for his heir when the sound of flute playing disturbs him. An a rage he takes his gun and stalks outside.... and someone pushes part of the roof on his head. Soon, his heir, Arthur Pusey and his pal show up for the reading of his will, as does sinister Oriental Gibb McLaughlin, who enquires if a certain gem has been left him. Nope. There's no money, just the incomplete instructions. An oily man breaks in, finds a stack of bonds, and is assassinated by Perfit's giggling Oriental servant, Kiyoshi Takase. Meanwhile, McLaughlin is hypnotizing Mabel Poulton to go fetch... and the movie goes into a long flashback to explain what the dickens is going on.

It's Walter Forde's first directing job in which he doesn't star, and while it is still a silent, it has all the earmarks of the comedy-thrllers he would direct in the coming decade. It's certainly old-fashioned in its tropes, with sinister. Fu-Manchu-like Chinese, stolen gems, sliding doors and such, but the surprises keep coming and you can't tell who's on whose side until well past the hour mark. There are a couple of unanswered questions, like who Miss Poulton is, but the movie zooms along with a briskly moving camera for a decent late-silent melodrama derived from a stage show.

Bob
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostWed May 23, 2018 7:50 pm

boblipton wrote:The Silent House (1929): Frank Perfit is writing instructions for his heir when the sound of flute playing disturbs him. An a rage he takes his gun and stalks outside.... and someone pushes part of the roof on his head. Soon, his heir, Arthur Pusey and his pal show up for the reading of his will, as does sinister Oriental Gibb McLaughlin, who enquires if a certain gem has been left him. Nope. There's no money, just the incomplete instructions. An oily man breaks in, finds a stack of bonds, and is assassinated by Perfit's giggling Oriental servant, Kiyoshi Takase. Meanwhile, McLaughlin is hypnotizing Mabel Poulton to go fetch... and the movie goes into a long flashback to explain what the dickens is going on.

It's Walter Forde's first directing job in which he doesn't star, and while it is still a silent, it has all the earmarks of the comedy-thrllers he would direct in the coming decade. It's certainly old-fashioned in its tropes, with sinister. Fu-Manchu-like Chinese, stolen gems, sliding doors and such, but the surprises keep coming and you can't tell who's on whose side until well past the hour mark. There are a couple of unanswered questions, like who Miss Poulton is, but the movie zooms along with a briskly moving camera for a decent late-silent melodrama derived from a stage show.

Bob


My comments from a while back: 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? [2018]

PostThu May 24, 2018 4:03 am

drednm wrote:
boblipton wrote:The Silent House (1929): Frank Perfit is writing instructions for his heir when the sound of flute playing disturbs him. An a rage he takes his gun and stalks outside.... and someone pushes part of the roof on his head. Soon, his heir, Arthur Pusey and his pal show up for the reading of his will, as does sinister Oriental Gibb McLaughlin, who enquires if a certain gem has been left him. Nope. There's no money, just the incomplete instructions. An oily man breaks in, finds a stack of bonds, and is assassinated by Perfit's giggling Oriental servant, Kiyoshi Takase. Meanwhile, McLaughlin is hypnotizing Mabel Poulton to go fetch... and the movie goes into a long flashback to explain what the dickens is going on.

It's Walter Forde's first directing job in which he doesn't star, and while it is still a silent, it has all the earmarks of the comedy-thrllers he would direct in the coming decade. It's certainly old-fashioned in its tropes, with sinister. Fu-Manchu-like Chinese, stolen gems, sliding doors and such, but the surprises keep coming and you can't tell who's on whose side until well past the hour mark. There are a couple of unanswered questions, like who Miss Poulton is, but the movie zooms along with a briskly moving camera for a decent late-silent melodrama derived from a stage show.

Bob


My comments from a while back: 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 .....


It's like we saw the same movie!

Bob
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostThu May 24, 2018 12:05 pm

boblipton wrote:The Silent House (1929): Frank Perfit is writing instructions for his heir when the sound of flute playing disturbs him. An a rage he takes his gun and stalks outside.... and someone pushes part of the roof on his head. Soon, his heir, Arthur Pusey and his pal show up for the reading of his will, as does sinister Oriental Gibb McLaughlin, who enquires if a certain gem has been left him. Nope. There's no money, just the incomplete instructions. An oily man breaks in, finds a stack of bonds, and is assassinated by Perfit's giggling Oriental servant, Kiyoshi Takase. Meanwhile, McLaughlin is hypnotizing Mabel Poulton to go fetch... and the movie goes into a long flashback to explain what the dickens is going on.

It's Walter Forde's first directing job in which he doesn't star, and while it is still a silent, it has all the earmarks of the comedy-thrllers he would direct in the coming decade. It's certainly old-fashioned in its tropes, with sinister. Fu-Manchu-like Chinese, stolen gems, sliding doors and such, but the surprises keep coming and you can't tell who's on whose side until well past the hour mark. There are a couple of unanswered questions, like who Miss Poulton is, but the movie zooms along with a briskly moving camera for a decent late-silent melodrama derived from a stage show.

Bob


Will have to check if there is now an English translation, although I enjoyed it thoroughly despite my atrocious French.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostThu May 24, 2018 12:16 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
boblipton wrote:The Silent House (1929): Frank Perfit is writing instructions for his heir when the sound of flute playing disturbs him. An a rage he takes his gun and stalks outside.... and someone pushes part of the roof on his head. Soon, his heir, Arthur Pusey and his pal show up for the reading of his will, as does sinister Oriental Gibb McLaughlin, who enquires if a certain gem has been left him. Nope. There's no money, just the incomplete instructions. An oily man breaks in, finds a stack of bonds, and is assassinated by Perfit's giggling Oriental servant, Kiyoshi Takase. Meanwhile, McLaughlin is hypnotizing Mabel Poulton to go fetch... and the movie goes into a long flashback to explain what the dickens is going on.

It's Walter Forde's first directing job in which he doesn't star, and while it is still a silent, it has all the earmarks of the comedy-thrllers he would direct in the coming decade. It's certainly old-fashioned in its tropes, with sinister. Fu-Manchu-like Chinese, stolen gems, sliding doors and such, but the surprises keep coming and you can't tell who's on whose side until well past the hour mark. There are a couple of unanswered questions, like who Miss Poulton is, but the movie zooms along with a briskly moving camera for a decent late-silent melodrama derived from a stage show.

Bob


Will have to check if there is now an English translation, although I enjoyed it thoroughly despite my atrocious French.


There were Spanish subtitles...

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Thu May 24, 2018 12:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostThu May 24, 2018 12:26 pm

My copy has French titles with an English crawl.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostThu May 24, 2018 7:18 pm

The First Year (1926) Shy, hardworking Matt Moore is about to sell some land to the railroad and brings home railroad executive J. Farrell MacDonald and his ex-showgirl wife to dinner. Too bad he's quarreling with his wife, Katherine Perry, the food has gone bad, the girl hired to serve doesn't know how and her old boyfriend shows up.

When we think of Frank Borzage, we think of very romantic works. Like any A-list director of the classic era, he could turn his hand to any genre, and here, a year from Seventh Heaven, he directs a funny comedy-of-errors from a stage show by Frank Craven, thanks to a scenario written by Francis Marion.

Interestingly, the subject would be remade by Fox in the early 1930s, with Borzage's super-stars Janet Gaynor & Charles Farrell, but under the directionof William K. Howard.

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Last edited by boblipton on Fri May 25, 2018 12:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostFri May 25, 2018 6:46 am

The Wishing Ring. This film started out as a bit of a drag and then I thought it was going to go down a particular path but then surprised me by doing something different.

The camera work was quite good for an American film of the time and it's definitely in that transitional period around the time of Birth of a Nation where the rules seem to start getting established and the stage seems to be almost completely left behind.

Anyway, it was a decent little film. It's on the Fort Lee NJ DVD which I picked up used for a couple of dollars.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostFri May 25, 2018 6:59 am

boblipton wrote:The First Year (1926) Shy, hardworking Matt Moore is about to sell some land to the railroad and brings home railroad executive J. Farrell MacDonald and his ex-showgirl wife to dinner. Too bad he's quarreling with his wife, Katherine Perry, the food has gone bad, the girl hired to serve doesn't know how and her old boyfriend shows up.

When we think of Frank Borzage, we think of very romantic works. Like any A-list director of the classic era, he could turn his hand to any genre, and here, a year from Seventh Heaven, he directs a funny comedy-of-errors from a stage show by Frank Craven, thanks to a scenario written by Francis Marion.

Interestingly, the subject would be remade by Fox in the early 1930s, with Borzage's super-starstars, Janet Gaynor & Charles Farrell, but under the directionof William K. Howard.

Bob


I caught this screening too. A pleasant little light comedy, nothing special but still quite entertaining. The MOMA blurb describing the film talked about the dinner party as the highlight, and I must say, that certainly didn't disappoint.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostFri May 25, 2018 6:00 pm

In "Stage Struck" (1925) I found a very different "La Swanson" than that which had been etched in my mind. Here she plays sans elaborate costuming (except for some brief dream sequences) in a comedy role - and she is very good at it too I may add.

The film is wrapped around two Technicolor sequences - the first takes us in completely for we feel the picture may be heading in one direction but it goes completely in another.

Miss Swanson is playing opposite Lawrence Gray. Both work in a workmen's cafe. He flips pancakes and she waits on tables carrying impossibly laden trays. She is in love with him, but he is more keen on actresses rather then her and goes out of his way to court one who is in town on a showboat - Gertrude Astor.

The film is rather unglamouress and quite earthy, but it is all quite delightful and playfully directed by Alan Dwan interspersed with some nice and flowery intertitles. There is nothing in it which is superflous and the story is told clearly and with a great deal of charm.

Ford Sterling is cast as the owner of the showboat and his love interest is a bass drum. (I told you it was a comedy).

The accompaniment on the print I watched was ably carried out by a pianist.

A nice surprise with a very good print to boot.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostSat May 26, 2018 1:42 pm

THE WARRIOR STRAIN (1920) starts before the Great War in one of those English castles / stately homes which need a huge staff to cater for a family of two and their guests. Young Lord Billy is lonely, and dreams of days of yore when his ancestors beat back the beastly Vikings. His father, The Earl of Halsford (genially payed by the generously-hootered H Agar Lyons) invites a German diplomat back for a few days. Needless to say the horrid fellow is doing a spot of spying and is rumbled by Lord Billy. The lad then makes friends with a trio of young army cadets, and manages to persuade Dad to let him join them. Needless to say Billy and his chums come up to the mark when War breaks out and the Hun is recognised when he is part of an invasion group designed to weaken English defences.

A bit wobbly in plotting, as the cadets come across the spies doing their dirty work and don't bother to report their suspicio, but otherwise a moderately interesting piece of propaganda which one would have thought would have been better if made earlier.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostSun May 27, 2018 4:05 am

Despite a beautifully clear copy and some very striking images and set-pieces, Jean Eptein's SIX ET DEMI, ONZE (1927, and no, I don't understand the title*) was rather heavy going. The fault to a certain extent was mine, as the film had no English subtitles and the French titles, though infrequent, were a trifle dense.

Starting off with a visit to their parents' tomb, the film follows two brothers one serious, one cheerful. The younger one abandons his work to go off with an elegant, though not too cheerful lady, who in turn abandons the poor beggar for a dancer... The plot gets rather deeper and grimmer, amongst some very striking set designs, although some of these appear to use the same rooms with different decor and furniture.

A particularly handsome film (shot by Georges Perinal), but a little difficult to get involved with. No doubt English titles would help a fair bit. And yes, I should have worked harder at French when at school, but it was never one of my stronger subjects...

Followed this with LES BERCEAUX (1931), a series of nautical images with an emphasis on one sailor, set to a musical poem, untranslated here, so again hard to comment sensibly until I learn more about the lyrics.

*a review on IMDb clarifies this, the title referring to a film format, photography and negatives having a significant role in the film. Although the title has 'et' for 'and', the poster features a 'x' which makes much more sense...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostSun May 27, 2018 7:53 am

"Asphalt" (1929, Germany). Director: Joe May.

Starring: Gustav Frölich, Betty Amann and Hans Adalbert Schlettow . The latter played in Anthony Asquith's brilliant late silent "The Cottage on Dartmoor".

A few years ago I was searching for the roots of film noir on internet and found an interesting artcle about this film in "The Hollywood Revue".

It has been labeled as a "proto-noir", and it is - together with Fritz Lang's "M" - a link between the Weimar cinema and the American noirs.

"Asphalt" showcases the beauty of black and white cinematography. The film has many features usually associated with film noirs: Urban setting (In 1929 Berlin was a metropole in line with New York City, San Francisco and London). Most of the film takes place during the night. A femme fatale. An extensive use of "chiascuoro" lightning.

But: The first 70 minutes of the film is rather upbeat (which diverges it from the full-fledged noirs). Some scenes are rather funny, like when Else compares the photo of a young and handsome policeman (who fancies her) with a photo of her elder and less handsome criminal boyfriend.

The tale of a decent man who strays away from the path of virtue by female cunning is pure noir. Other notable members of the same "club" are Professor Unrath, Walter Neff and Dr. Richard Talbot.

STORY: A young policeman is about to apprehend a female jewel thief, but falls in love with her.

FULL FILM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pu4sZtecxI
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostSun May 27, 2018 9:11 am

Mbakkel2 wrote:"Asphalt" (1929, Germany). Director: Joe May.

"Asphalt" showcases the beauty of black and white cinematography. The film has many features usually associated with film noirs:
FULL FILM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pu4sZtecxI" target="_blank" target="_blank


I could never class this as 'Film Noir' since it's such a wonderful story from beginning to end.
In my opinion, most film noirs are dreadfully dark stories with mostly unlikeable characters.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostSun May 27, 2018 4:31 pm

Over to the Museum of Modern Art to see Sharp Shooters (1928): Three sailors are on the town, looking to pick up some local lovelies, but it's not Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin in New York, New York, but George O'Brien, Noah Young and Tom Dugan in a French port in North Africa, where they find belly dancer Lois Moran. She's a good girll, and after George rescues her from some grabby locals, she takes him him to meet grandpa. She thinks it's love and marriage, but before he can explain there's no "and" about it, the ship signals leave is cancelled and they're gone.

Lois follows to New York and gets a job at a dance hall run by William Demarest, who means to have his way with her, but before that happens, along come the sailors, two of whom decide they still owe Lafayette a little interest and beat O'Brien into unwilling matrimony. At that point....

Like many a comedy, it's at its best before the plot kicks in, with many a well-rendered sight gag under the supervision of director John G. Blystone. The best role is not among the leads, but Gwen Lee;s, who is true to the Navy when it comes to Georgie. Boris Karloff has a small role early on, and Randolph Scott an uncredited bit, but I didn't spot him. Although it quickly falls into typical patterns, at an hour's length this doesn't have time to bore.

Bob
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