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

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

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

PostMon Jan 22, 2018 12:02 pm

[quote="Battra92"]
Ozu's silents are really good. I have an affinity for those late Japanese silents for many historical and artistic reasons. I know it's almost cliche to say this but Ozu really was amazing and I'm sad it took me until my late 20s to discover him.

Gee, it took me until my 40's to see my first Ozu. I love his films. Today I just realized how much canon Sergei Eisenstein I've missed. Like October, for instance. Must remedy.
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earlytalkiebuffRob

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

PostMon Jan 22, 2018 1:02 pm

Another one with Hal Roach's Rascals, CRAZY HOUSE (1928) has Jean Darling as the Poor Little Rich Girl (with a great line in dropping bricks when her Mother's friends are about) wishing for company and getting it in the shape of Wheezer, Mary Ann and the rest. Interspersed with this is a series of practical jokes and a neighbour's son dressed as Little Lord Fauntleroy or some such horror. Not all the gags woek, but enough of them do to make an amusing and fast-paced entry in the series.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostTue Jan 23, 2018 1:07 pm

rudyfan wrote:Gee, it took me until my 40's to see my first Ozu. I love his films. Today I just realized how much canon Sergei Eisenstein I've missed. Like October, for instance. Must remedy.


Heh, well it's funny how access to a lot of these old films has increased in my lifetime. I mean I started out watching Keaton and Chaplin on AMC and then saw The Big Parade when I was in middle school but it wasn't until DVD that I really was able to get access to a wide variety of films from all over thanks to region free DVD players.

Now i can go on YouTube or other sites and watch hours and hours of films. There's so many that I don't even know where to start.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostTue Jan 23, 2018 1:37 pm

Battra92 wrote:
rudyfan wrote:Gee, it took me until my 40's to see my first Ozu. I love his films. Today I just realized how much canon Sergei Eisenstein I've missed. Like October, for instance. Must remedy.


Heh, well it's funny how access to a lot of these old films has increased in my lifetime. I mean I started out watching Keaton and Chaplin on AMC and then saw The Big Parade when I was in middle school but it wasn't until DVD that I really was able to get access to a wide variety of films from all over thanks to region free DVD players.

Now i can go on YouTube or other sites and watch hours and hours of films. There's so many that I don't even know where to start.


I know how you feel!
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earlytalkiebuffRob

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

PostTue Jan 23, 2018 1:42 pm

A non-commercial film about giving out-of-the-way communities a good medical service, THE FORGOTTEN FRONTIER (1931), though valuable, is rather plodding and boring for much of its running time, using an excess of titles, which add very little to ones understanding, or simply giving information about those whose donations helped build the various medical centres. The last third comes over somewhat better, detailing as it does the rescue of a man shot in a quarrel miles from any help. The film was mute, so a suitable accompaniment would certainly have helped.
Last edited by earlytalkiebuffRob on Wed Jan 24, 2018 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostTue Jan 23, 2018 4:44 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:A non-commercial film about giving out-of-the-way communities a good medical service, THE FORGOTTEN FRONTIER (1930), though valuable, is rather plodding and boring for much of its running time, using an excess of titles, which add very little to ones understanding, or simply giving information about those whose donations helped build the various medical centres. The last third comes over somewhat better, detailing as it does the rescue of a man shot in a quarrel miles from any help. The film was mute, so a suitable accompaniment would certainly have helped.


ymmv, I thought this was a lovely piece by a talented filmmaker.

[Mary] Marvin Breckinridge traveled 600 miles on horseback with a hand-cranked 35mm camera, did all of her own lighting and compositions, directed a non-professional cast, and shaped a semi-documentary storyline about a beautiful but perilously poor part of the country. With its stunning landscapes, carefully edited sequences, and engaging directorial style, this stands up to any nonfiction film of its period.

Of course, it is a fund-raising film. So, yes, you name your donors when showing them what they paid for. Breckinridge provided a running commentary during screenings, which may have made the film seem less "plodding and boring" to its viewers. But for many of that time and today, providing free or low-cost health care to communities without any previous medical services, inoculating students against infectious diseases, locating clinics where people needed them and lowering maternal mortality are all things to celebrate, not dismiss.

Breckinridge also made films in South America and Africa before becoming a noted photojournalist in the run-up to WWII, covering Nazi rallies for Life, Look, National Geographic, the Washington Post, and other publications. She also worked with Edward R. Murrow on the CBS Radio Network, but was forced to leave journalism by the State Department when she married diplomat Jefferson Patterson in 1940. She devoted herself to her husband's career, and later to philanthropy.

As far as I have been able to find out, she lived an exemplary life. And in The Forgotten Frontier she made an important contribution to both personal essays and the documentary genre as a whole. Taken on its own terms, it's a very worthwhile movie, but again ymmv.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostWed Jan 24, 2018 9:13 am

Finally got my greedy mitts on the Kino Beggars of Life. While there's really nothing more to add that hasn't already been said (it's terrific!) it did prompt me to have a look at my old copy. What a difference, sharp and crisp versus absolute mush. How did I watch that...thing?
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostWed Jan 24, 2018 1:17 pm

THE SAGA OF GOSTA BERLING in the very fine Kino DVD. I'd seen it years ago at Film Forum, and had been very impressed with it, and was glad to see that it still works. Great eventful story, defrocked priests and independent women and fires and pursuits across frozen lakes -- what's not to enjoy? And good old Lars Hanson. And Garbo in her debut, stiffly amateurish until one amazing moment where she just suddenly comes to full life while toying with her wedding ring and considering her options. I like the score by Matti Bye a great deal.

It seems that the Swedish Film folks have done a new photochemical restoration of the three hour film, which will be shown in San Francisco in early June, and I'm very eager to check it out.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostWed Jan 24, 2018 1:59 pm

Daniel Eagan wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:A non-commercial film about giving out-of-the-way communities a good medical service, THE FORGOTTEN FRONTIER (1931), though valuable, is rather plodding and boring for much of its running time, using an excess of titles, which add very little to ones understanding, or simply giving information about those whose donations helped build the various medical centres. The last third comes over somewhat better, detailing as it does the rescue of a man shot in a quarrel miles from any help. The film was mute, so a suitable accompaniment would certainly have helped.


ymmv, I thought this was a lovely piece by a talented filmmaker.

[Mary] Marvin Breckinridge traveled 600 miles on horseback with a hand-cranked 35mm camera, did all of her own lighting and compositions, directed a non-professional cast, and shaped a semi-documentary storyline about a beautiful but perilously poor part of the country. With its stunning landscapes, carefully edited sequences, and engaging directorial style, this stands up to any nonfiction film of its period.

Of course, it is a fund-raising film. So, yes, you name your donors when showing them what they paid for. Breckinridge provided a running commentary during screenings, which may have made the film seem less "plodding and boring" to its viewers. But for many of that time and today, providing free or low-cost health care to communities without any previous medical services, inoculating students against infectious diseases, locating clinics where people needed them and lowering maternal mortality are all things to celebrate, not dismiss.

Breckinridge also made films in South America and Africa before becoming a noted photojournalist in the run-up to WWII, covering Nazi rallies for Life, Look, National Geographic, the Washington Post, and other publications. She also worked with Edward R. Murrow on the CBS Radio Network, but was forced to leave journalism by the State Department when she married diplomat Jefferson Patterson in 1940. She devoted herself to her husband's career, and later to philanthropy.

As far as I have been able to find out, she lived an exemplary life. And in The Forgotten Frontier she made an important contribution to both personal essays and the documentary genre as a whole. Taken on its own terms, it's a very worthwhile movie, but again ymmv.


Just had to look up 'ymmv' as had no idea what that meant! My comments were in no way a denigration of the work done by these dedicated and pioneering medics. I guess I didn't think of it as a fun-raising film, more a demonstration of the good works done, but of course any public showings would be bound to encourage and attract donations. It was simply my reflection, based on the 'dry' copy which was shown via the Library of Congress. I notice that the other copy on YT is much longer, but does not seem to contain any extra footage.
Last edited by earlytalkiebuffRob on Wed Jan 24, 2018 2:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostWed Jan 24, 2018 2:01 pm

oldposterho wrote:Finally got my greedy mitts on the Kino Beggars of Life. While there's really nothing more to add that hasn't already been said (it's terrific!) it did prompt me to have a look at my old copy. What a difference, sharp and crisp versus absolute mush. How did I watch that...thing?


Of course until recently it was that or nothing. I recall a friendly neighbour giving me a videocassette of BEGGARS back in the 1990s, which was of the usual washed-out quality...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostWed Jan 24, 2018 4:34 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Of course until recently it was that or nothing. I recall a friendly neighbour giving me a videocassette of BEGGARS back in the 1990s, which was of the usual washed-out quality...


You obviously missed Jack Hardy's final effort to make the unrestored film watchable. A much cleaner print, all the titles were readable and his newly composed score certainly supported this last Grapevine DVD issue. Add to that, Jack replaced older copies customers had bought with this new version...and he did it for free!

I'm sure the KINO copy is nice, but I'm well satisfied with the last Grapevine effort.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostWed Jan 24, 2018 8:17 pm

I have both the Kino version and the last Grapevine version. I am usually not crazy about the Grapevine scores, but I must say that the score put on the Grapevine disk for Beggars is really wonderful.

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

PostFri Jan 26, 2018 7:54 am

THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED -- Lotte Reiniger's 1926 animated feature might flirt with political incorrectness (why does the evil wizard have to be African?) but overall it's a work of such total rare beauty that I feel rather churlish in bringing it up at all. Reiniger gets more expression out of her cutouts than you might think possible, little gestures go a long way. And those additional flourishes from Walter Ruttman and others ensure that it's not entirely two-dimensional -- there are lovely swirling clouds and a genii and some tasty abstract light effects. I got this in the lovely BFI Blu-Ray which includes the original symphonic score. Lovely all round.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostFri Jan 26, 2018 12:06 pm

Thanks again to YouTube's suggestions, I watched C. B. DeMille's Forbidden Fruit (1921), a modern day twist to the Cinderella Story. It's a serious look at the social ills of society with in-your-face intertitles. Two examples:
"There is no Law of God or Man, which forces a wife to stand by a Husband who offers her only degradation---and deny the man who offers her Honor and---Love"

The Law provides healing for the big "wounds" of Matrimony---but none for it's scratches. Yet a Human Being can die of a Pin-Prick!

The film runs a proper 90 minutes and the careful tinting (sometimes in gold) made the characters in this sepia-like print almost look lifelike. It would be another year before Technicolor released it's first full length color film, The Toll of the Sea." This certainly was a great effort as well.

As if that were already more than enough, the fairytale scenes have that over the top DeMille extravagances with costumes and beautiful sets were the floor shined like a mirror.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostFri Jan 26, 2018 12:13 pm

I placed my first order for some Grapevine Video releases figuring that it'd be the only way I could get some movies. I decided to watch Shore Leave (1925), which I had seen on Amazon Prime streaming a while back and ... it was the exact same print and score! I enjoyed it on Amazon so I'm not upset to have a physical copy of it (I can't stream it on Amazon anymore.)
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostWed Jan 31, 2018 1:29 pm

A British outing from 1916, based on a ballad, ON THE BANKS OF ALLAN WATER is a rather theatrical affair with a young soldier on leave falling for a Scots lassie when his uncle has other plans for him being horrified at the idea of the fellow marrying 'beneath him'. There is also a sneaky secretary / jealous relative who is out to stir up trouble as well as a regular gathering of coincidences and misunderstandings. Attractively shot, although marred at times by decomposition, this film is more of a curio than anything else and an example of yesterday's tastes, or at any rate presumed tastes... Will have to see what Miss Low thought of this one...
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostFri Feb 02, 2018 8:13 am

Chickens in Turkey (1919): When a yacht owned and crewed only by women sails up to the shores of Turkey, the only man in sight is Marcel Perez. When he comes aboard, the young lovelies dress him in woman's clothing so the man-hungry owner won't grab him. Soon, however, pirates seize everyone and sell the women to a Turkish Pasha, who is particularly taken with the lovely Marcel. Only Dorothy Earle had escaped the pirates' notice, so she dresses in men's clothing to rescue everyone.

The copy of this gender-bending comedy that appears on the MARCEL PEREZ vol. 2 dvd does not survive in topnotch shape -- there's some decomposition, and censors had gotten their hands on the copy, removing things that would offended Pennsylvanians a century ago, but the essentially dizziness has not only survived, its moment has come! Good comedy is what makes people laugh; great comedy turns your world upside down and suddenly, things make more sense that way. This year, we seem to be living inside Perez' comedy. We'll see what happens next year.

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

PostSat Feb 03, 2018 9:20 am

Out west, some bad guys have Dorothy Earle tied to a tree while they duel with their 20-shooters to see who gets her. The sight of the helpless Dorothy drives Marcel Perez Wild (1921); he rescues her. Her father tells them they can keep each other, just empty one of the gold mines up in them thar hills. However the bad guys incite the local Indians to attack Our heroes in this good comedy.

It's not the best of the comedies on THE MARCEL PEREZ COLLECTION vol. 2, despite the usual assortment of imaginative and well-executed gags. There were a lot of western comedies to choose from in the era and the heavy-handed puns that Perez' producers, the Shillers, favored for their titles, tend to make me scowl rather than laugh. Still, it does have the distinction of being in the best shape of any of Perez' American performances I have seen, thanks to its being one of two films released to the 16mm. aftermarket; one copy of this survived in a private collection and wound up at the Library of Congress. The other film is still missing and, like more than 70 per cent of silent films, may never be heard from again.

So by all means, take a look at this one, and, if you can, ignore the titles. You'll see Perez doing a fine comedy, integrating the European and American branches of slapstick.

Bob
“Oh, yeah, I’ve been there. Pretty cool place. The people who live there? They love it. They’re nuts.”

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

PostSat Feb 03, 2018 3:50 pm

I stumbled onto Bucking Broadway (1917), a Harry Carey Western directed by John Ford. The image was tinted to make everything look brilliant on the screen. Sadly, the story wasn't very good and when there was action on the screen, it was far too much confusion without any way to understanding what's happening. I watched it to the bitter end.

Offsetting that, I watched Wagon Tracks (1919), a William S. Hart feature with nice organ score. What a difference. Hart films never disappoint, and the story was both very involved and clearly shown on the screen. The print available to see on YouTube is superior to my older DVD copy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjpcjBKuOpY" target="_blank" target="_blank
If you have never seen this part Murder Mystery, part Wagon Train story, you should enjoy this.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostTue Feb 06, 2018 4:57 pm

I did what I generally don't like doing - and that is, watching a silent picture cold, but there was "The Road to Yesterday" (1925) lying around in that state, so I put it on and persevered, imagining myself conducting the orchestra and choosing the selections they were playing.

The film is what I suppose one would term a typical Cecil B. deMille picture. It has a modern day story interwoven with a flashback to another time, all laced with a heavy dosage of religious morality.

Two couples are picked out for us to voyeur upon. Josef Schildkraut has a bung arm and is married to Jetta Goudal, who is one step removed from being in a lunatic asylum. She is scared of her husband's shadow and as such can't go near him. Conjugal rights are being denied. Hoppalong Cassidy (who is a Minister in this) meanwhile has fallen for a flapperette in the form of Vera Reynolds. She is a dizzy dill, who can't make up her mind to marry him or another suitor - Casson Ferguson. Just as we are trying to work out what the main protagonists are trying to work out, the train on which they are all travelling, crashes and we are transported back to Elizabethan England. It's all quite normal.

It seems that all concerned are the result of reincarnation for they all take the parts they played 300 years previously. It's all rather silly and a bit over the top, but I suppose it does go some way of explaining why things are where they are now.

de Mille lays it all on a bit thick, but I daresay audiences back in 1925 were quite used to all of this allegorical stuff and the preaching that goes with it. I therefore found the film more a relic of its times rather than a story with which I found much enjoyment.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostTue Feb 06, 2018 6:30 pm

Mästerman (a.k.a. A Lover in Pawn), 1920. Directed by Victor Sjöström, and starring same, with Greta Almroth and Harald Schwenzen. Sjöström gives a beautifully nuanced and touching performance as an embittered older pawnbroker whose life is changed by a vivacious young lady (Almroth) who is affianced to a reckless but charismatic sailor (Schwenzen). Perhaps a little slow at the beginning, it gains emotional power as the story unfolds. Though I’m quite good at figuring out how a story will end, up until the final minutes I had no idea what the denouement would finally turn out to be in this one. Beautiful camera work by Julius Jaenzon (responsible for the likes of The Phantom Carriage, Sir Arne’s Treasure, The Outlaw and his Wife, Gösta Berling’s Saga, etc. etc. etc.), the director and cinematographer together responsible for some visually striking and unique sequences. The English subtitles in the release I have are by someone—a Swede, judging by the thought-patterns displayed in the phraseology—whose command of English is a bit shaky; but the translation is less an annoyance than it is an occasional curiosity. A very worthy, impactful, film.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostTue Feb 06, 2018 7:22 pm

The Call of the Wild (1908), despite the IMDb credit, has nothing to do with Jack London's novel. It's a D.W. Griffith movie about how Amerindian Charles Inslee has just graduated from college with honors, and a football hero to boot. When he pays court to Florence Lawrence, however, she rejects him and leaves. He tears off his civilized clothes, dons his Comanche get-up, gets drunk with his fellow braves and kidnaps Miss Lawrence.

The copy I looked at on Youtube was on old paper print copy and was, as you might expect, not very easy to watch. It's only in the past twenty years that very watchable prints have been struck. However, even though the acting in this one is still of the waving-the-hands-about variety, it's well shot for the era, in about a dozen scenes, most of them outdoor. Although Griffith had not abandoned the proscenium arch entirely for his movies, given a story that called for a subject that could be set outside, he and his cameraman (here Arthur Marvin) felt no need for it.

Bob
“Oh, yeah, I’ve been there. Pretty cool place. The people who live there? They love it. They’re nuts.”

That we do. And that we are.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostTue Feb 06, 2018 8:06 pm

"The General" (Cohen Media Collection/Eureka BR box set):

Stunning 4K-mastered edition of this classic, the wonderful visual quality just reinforces the precision and elegance of Keaton's work, both in front of and behind the camera. You smile in admiration as often as you laugh at this one.

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

PostWed Feb 07, 2018 8:34 am

Most animation fans know of Emile Cohl as a pioneering French animator of early works like Fantasmagorie, from 1908. He continued to produce animation through the beginning of the 1920s, and L'Avenir Devoile Par Les Ligne Du Pied (The Future Revealed By the Lines of the Foot (1914) is a mixed live-action animated short that was released by Eclair.

A palmist has a client come in. After taking a print of his palm and finding it uninteresting, she has his take off his shoe and sock, and takes a print of his foot. Both of the prints are animated in the typical Cohl style, which is to say, a series of fantastical transformations, and although by this point, he was beginning to compete with the motion-based animation that the fledgling American animation studios were offering -- Bray, Raoul Barre -- Cohl offers a goodly bit of humor with his stout, hesitant actors, and the idea that the animation reveals their thoughts.

Bob
“Oh, yeah, I’ve been there. Pretty cool place. The people who live there? They love it. They’re nuts.”

That we do. And that we are.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostWed Feb 07, 2018 9:26 am

George McManus may be best remembered for creating the strip Bringing Up Father, with its portraits of nouveau riche Maggie and Jiggs, but he had already had a big hit with The Newlyweds, which had appeared in six cartoons animated by Emile Cohl. The only known survivor is He Poses for His Portrait (1913).

So how did Cohl, with his phantasmagorical transformations, handle the too-doting parents and their attempts to have a sensitive artist paint a portrait of Baby Snooks? As a dream-like, almost nightmarish series of transformations and abrupt transitions that kept me laughing throughout. Cohl gives the entire effort an even more nightmarish state by avoiding the black line on a white background. Instead, he reverses the effect.

It's surprising to see Cohl's usual collection of abstract and geometric designs harnessed to McManus' sense of humor and string sense of line drawing. Maybe that's why it's such a strong piece. Maybe it's Cohl's own nightmare. I'm sure that no one expected the result they got, and probably considered it a failure at the time. Looking at the survivor, I like it a lot and wish more were around to be seen.

Bob
“Oh, yeah, I’ve been there. Pretty cool place. The people who live there? They love it. They’re nuts.”

That we do. And that we are.
-- James Lilek
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostWed Feb 07, 2018 3:28 pm

I'm just working my way into Flicker Alley's Mack Sennett Collection Vol. 1 and fascinated by the first few Biographs. "The Manicure Lady" far more subtle than I might be led to expect, and of course Mabel Normand's freshness in "A Dash Through the Clouds." The Keystones proper next, but I'm delighted with the set so far.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostWed Feb 07, 2018 6:43 pm

No sooner do I proclaim that He Poses for His Portrait is the only known survivor of six "The Newlyweds" cartoons that Emile Cohl directed, based on George McManus' strip, then up pops He Ruins His Family's Reputation (1913)! In this one, the local clergyman comes to visit the family. Then try to hide the poker chips, but baby Snooks spends the cartoon taking them from their hiding spot and putting them in the parson's hat.

It's less obviously tied to the McManus strip, although Snooks is clearly Snooks, and there is definitely an air of a progression of panels in this one, rather than scenes. It's also a one-joke cartoon, and I was left waiting for the inevitable payoff, and so found it far less splendid. Still, Cohl's animation is a thing unto itself and enjoyable on its own terms.

Bob
“Oh, yeah, I’ve been there. Pretty cool place. The people who live there? They love it. They’re nuts.”

That we do. And that we are.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostWed Feb 07, 2018 7:04 pm

I found Emile Cohl's Les Metamorphoses Comiques (1912) an odd mixture of proscenium-arch reality and doodling. We see individuals or items on a stage, which are transformed into drawings. They undergo a series of transformations in the manner of Cohl's better known works, and eventually the drawings were transformed back into real objects, which in their turn were turned into drawings.....

And so forth. I was puzzled. Was I looking at artistic doodling here? Freudian psychoanalysis? A precursor to surrealism or Dadaism or even the sort of scriptwriting that Quentin Tarrantino does, in which he lifts striking images from old movies and writes a script that connects those images? Or was it simply a matter of Cohl having moved to Eclipse as a distributor and them demanding something to put in their latest catalogue? Well, it's too late now to ask any of the people involved.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostWed Feb 07, 2018 8:55 pm

Cohl can be brilliant, but sitting through the disc of his works in the Gaumont set is an easy way to fall asleep- not that any of the shorts are bad, but his transformational white-on-black style can go from dreamlike to sleep inducing. Best in small doses.
Eric Stott
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

PostWed Feb 07, 2018 9:10 pm

Helen of the Four Gates (1920) is one of the rarely seen features produced and directed by Hepworth in the 1920s. It puts to the lie the claim that his later work, like the short subjects he produced during the War years, was primitive. It's a rural melodrama about how James Carew is rejected by the woman he loves. When she dies with her infant daughter in her arms, he agrees to adopt her, but decides on revenge. When the child grows up to be Alma Taylor, he drives away George Dewhurst, whom she loves, and tricks her into marrying cruel John MacAndrews, all to punish a dead woman.

Now, normally, at this point in the story, I would raise my eyebrows and wander off. I can see holding a grudge for a few decades, but I can't see many people devoting their lives to it. However, given the level of acting, the details of the storytelling, and the overall excellence of the camerawork -- a lot of the movie is shot outdoors in beautifully verdant, mountainous country -- the fate of the unhappy Miss Taylor held my attention for the full movie.

Given this level of movie-making, what happened to Hepworth? I suspect the 1920s. In the Post-War era, the capital to modernize and keep up with the American film makers wasn't available; and the taste for this sort of bucolic story lost the public attention. People didn't want to see rustic maids, they wanted to see flappers, and Hepworth, like D.W. Griffith in America, lost his way.

If, however, you have a taste for this sort of story, or you wish to see if all the "experts" who claim that the British couldn't make good films in the silent era were right -- they weren't -- this is one for you.

Bob
“Oh, yeah, I’ve been there. Pretty cool place. The people who live there? They love it. They’re nuts.”

That we do. And that we are.
-- James Lilek
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