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

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Sep 12, 2018 5:01 am

I've been looking at Dawson City: Frozen Time and Fragments, recorded off TCM, over the last couple of evenings. Looking at the reel from Flaming Youth, I was struck by how much Milton Sills looked like Gary Cooper would in Love in the Afternoon.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:32 pm

Among the riches that tguinan has for the open-handed are:

The Will-Be Weds (1913): Joseph Allen Sr. objects to daughter Beverly Bayne marrying John Stepping, so it's the old elopement plot for them, with papa in swift pursuit -- all within the speed limit, of course. When the minister is out, they persuade the butler to pretend to be the minister at the end of the ceremony, so Allen shrugs his shoulders and concedes he's gained a son. He orders the couple home so they can spend their honeymoon in the freshly turned guest room.

Whoops! There's no getting rid of the old man for a visit to some one who can actually marry the two of them in this mild but amusing Essanay comedy.

Beverly Bayne was a popular star of the silent era. After she left Essanay for Metro, along with husband Francis X. Bushman, she remained popular on-screen until the couple divorced in 1924. She worked largely on stage thereafter, although she had a small role in 1948's The Naked City, and a few tv appearances.

Before she became Pauline, Pearl White faced the peril of Her Dressmaker's Bills (1912). At any rate, that's how her husband, Chester Barnett feels about it when they keep coming into his office and presenting them to him. Although the copy I saw timed out at eight minutes, this Phillips Smalley comedy was originally released as a split-reel.

Miss White mugs outrageously in this one, but Mr. Barnett's performance is not of the less-is-more variety. It's one of those simple practical-joke movies, but there's some motivation and a nice capper joke. At this length, you can derive some pleasure from seeing Miss White deal with the small crises before she learned to leap from aeroplanes with aplomb.

It's the set-up for one of those marital tropes that has been done to death: the wife who keeps saying she has Nothing to Wear (1917). However, when the couple is Mr. & Mrs. Sidney Drew, you know you're in for some sharply observed, humorous commentary on the middle class and Mr. Drew's wonderful stage business. As I remark in every review I do of their efforts, Mr. Drew was the uncle of the now far more famous John, Lionel and Ethel Barrymore, and so great-great of Drew Barrymore -- notice her given name?

The copy I saw was in remarkably good condition. Alas, few of their two-reelers survive in great shape, but the damage on this one is limited to the opening title and some minor chipping just before the 11-minute mark. Many of the titles have been restored, revealing some wonderfully witty and suggestive writing; Mr. Drew's open-handedness with a check is referred to as Aladdin's lamp, which Mrs. Drew rubs several times in the film's course.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Sep 12, 2018 6:17 pm

More dvds from tguinan:

Dirty Work in a Laundry aka A Desperate Scoundrel: I've been trying to look at this for years, but every other copy has been too beat up. Finally, a copy in decent shape! It's Ford Sterling in Dutch gear, snarling to beat the band. He won't steal candy from a baby, because the baby hasn't got any, but he will steal milk from its bottle. He escapes to a laundry where he flirts with Minta Durfee, but when the cash receipts fly into his hat, he leaves, only to return for a melodrama ending and the Keystone Kops against their erstwhile Chief.

By the summer of 1915, this type of comedy was a bit old-fashioned at Keystone, but Chaplin had left and Arbuckle was about to flee to faraway New Jersey where he could make interesting comedies without Sennett bothering him. Sterling was always a popular actor at Keystone -- indeed, he was a fine actor in general, as his career would later demonstrate. Why not take the tried-and-true tropes, the flirting in the park, the burlesque-Griffith chase, the Kops, and give them a try at 20 minutes .... long for Keystone, despite the previous year's Tillie's Punctured Romance? The result is a good short, carried on the charms -- hardly the right word -- of its star/director

Sergeant Hofmeyer (1914): The IMDB tag says “A police officer attempts to steal a go-cart from a child" and I can't much improve on that. When the officer is Ford Sterling, you can be sure he's not going to be terribly successful in getting the wagon for his own son, and when Billy Jacobs shows up, you know the four-year-old is going to steal the movie; he's the one with the closing star close-up.

This was the third movie Sterling appeared in for Universal under the Sterling Comedies contract, complete with Henry "Pathe" Lehrman directing. Sterling (the man) isn't as objectionable as Billy Ritchie, that most Lehrman-like of screen comedian would be; he does love his son enough to steal for him and, armed with a stick and a badge of authority, he can overwhelm small children after a long struggle. Its a very funny comedy. The trouble is that it is squarely in the Keystone mode. That's hardly surprising. Sterling and Lehrman had just come from Keystone, where Lehrman claimed to be the brains behind the operation and Sterling was their biggest star, and that's what Universal -- and everyone else at that moment -- wanted. Unfortunately, while Lehrman might have had the vision, it would turn out to be Sennett who had the eye for talent -- and the reputation to get it for the next ten years.

Should Husbands Dance? (1920): The post-War years spent a lot of film asking if men in general or husbands in particular should do something or other. The conclusion almost invariably turned out to be they shouldn't.

In this one, there's a big dance coming up, and Dorothy Dane is excited.... except that husband Neal Burns can't dance for beans. However, family friend Dorothy Devore offers to teach him in secret as a surprise for his wife at home, while he sends over to her mother's. However, Miss Devore has a jealous boyfriend...

Well, you can see how this will all play out. This being a Christie comedy before 1924, there's not a pratfall in sight. It's all very situation-comedy fodder, with things moving along at as fast a clip as they can manage.... except that the audience is way ahead of them. What husbands should do, it turns out, is not try to surprise wives.

The Christies were among the first producers to settle in Hollywood, and they were still producing, albeit for others, as the 1940s rolled around. They were slow to move into slapstick in any form and for almost a decade after Sennett started Keystone, they sneered at it, hewing to traditional stories and classic comic forms, none of this newfangled commedia dell'arte stuff. I think they're dull in general, and this one in particular. It's a pity, because they have a couple of capable performers here in Miss Devore and Mr. Burns.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Thu Sep 13, 2018 5:35 pm

tguinan has, as you might expect, some westerns.

The Two Doyles (1919): Franklyn Farnum is coming out west with his wife and child to get a new start. Little does he know that his twin brother, also played by Farnum, has been larruping around the county, holding up a stage coach to steal a kiss from Louella Maxam (which pleases her) and throwing Indians off cliffs. The latter has the Injuns in hot pursuit, when he runs into his brother and family. During the fight, the wife is killed and the married one injured. Thinking he's a dead man, he tells his brother to save his brother. When he recovers, he is mistakenly arrested for his brother's crime (kissing Miss Maxam). Since he thinks he has no reason to live, he surrenders peacefully.

There seem to be a lot of Farnums in this movie, which wraps things up rather abruptly (thanks to some decent split-screen work), but this one was no relation to Dustin and William. He was a successful cowboy star during the silent era, but he took a couple of years off when talkies came in and and a result, his roles declined. From 1935 through his death in 1961, he appeared in hundreds of movies (including eight Best Picture winners) and dozens of tv episodes, but always as an uncredited extra.

The Struggle (1913): While father and son are out prospecting, a mysterious stranger comes calling at the shack. After the daughter of the house feeds him, he assaults her. The men return iin time, but the father is killed. Some time later the son, played by Bob Morrow, is an army scout. He spots the stranger during a bar fight and the stranger is killed. Bob is blamed and in the West you can't kill a White man in a bar fight. He escapes, runs into Indians -- them you can kill -- returns to the army, is taken by the sheriff.... more Indians.

The print I saw was dupy and worn and the titles just about illegible, but this half-hour short is a typically fine Ince production for 1913, with fine costumes, sets, camerawork and acting. There are also a couple of major battle pieces, but it is the acting that really stands out, particularly by E.H. Allen as the pleasantly dour sheriff. He didn't act in many movies, but he has a place in cinema history for producing the Educational Pictures shorts in the mid-1930s that started Buster Keaton on his long road back.

His Wife's Secret (1915): Marguerite Clayton is knitting baby booties, which is the only way to tell a husband who won't come to the phone they will be visited by a little stranger. In another room of the apartment, Brocho Billy Anderson, taking a rest from the lone prairie, is trying to break into the safe. When husband Lee Willard comes home stinking drunk and in the mood for love, will Billy play the gentleman?

We sometimes forget, because he was the biggest cowboy superstar around (although William S. Hart would soon surpass him) and co-owner of Essanay Films, that G.M. Anderson (born Max Aronson) was an actor, capable of playing many parts in his time, and enjoyed the occasional modern-dress role. This is a very pleasant little comedy.

Harold Lloyd is not playing Hide and Seek (1913) in this movie, despite the rumors. Neither did Arthur Hailey write the play this was based on; that was Time Lock, produced about forty-five years later, nine times longer, and not a a quarter as funny.

Everyone is anxious to get out of the bank that day, so when Billy Jacobs goes into the vault, Mabel Normand says good. When the clerk locks the vault -- after Billy has gone out to play on the street -- everyone panics in best Keystone style, calling in the Kops and the equally incompetent Fire Department.

It's a perfectly acceptable and amusing one-reeler from Sennett's studio, even if the fine cast -- including Mabel, Ford Sterling, Dot Farley, but not, I repeat, not Harold Lloyd mugs nicely for the camera.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:16 am

More tguinan westerns!

Courage of Sorts (1913): Edward Coxen wants to marry Lilian Christy. Her father, Chester Withey, who's always boasting about his own bravery, says he will consent if Coxen spends the night in the haunted cabin in this telegraphed western comedy.

It's not just the simple and obvious construction of the comedy and its execution that fails to excite me in this one-reeler. The compositions are mediocre and the use of day-for-night photography, with the actors' shadows on the ground is something that could have been fixed by better camera set-ups. Oh well. At least Miss Christy is a pretty ingenue towards the end of her three-year movie career.

Two Guns of the Tumbleed (1927): I looked at a Pathegram one-reel cutdown of a six-reel Leo Maloney western and that was a mistake. There's a gang, there's a ranch, there's riding around, there's grabbing the womenfolk and riding around with them. This goes on for five minutes until we are informed that Maloney has been captured by the bad guys and if Peggy Montgomery ever wants to see him again, a check will be fine.

Maloney, in the few movies I've seen him in, strikes me as the sort of B Western star who could ride well and outact a tree. He obviously was no dope, capable of getting Ford Beebe to write his scripts, casting well from Gower Gulch and directing them himself, but his cluttered compositions are distracting and whatever charm his movies may have had at greater lengths winds up looking like 5-year-olds playing Cowboys & Indian at this length. He died in 1929 at age 41, so we'll never find out if he could speak in the movies. Or sing.

The Locket, or When She Was Twenty (1913): "Wasn't I pretty when I was twenty?" says Leah Baird, showing the picture in her locket to her friend on the crowded trolley car; she was a hideously aged 30 when she made this movie. Then she slips it into a pocket and dreams of her youth. Unfortunately, she slips it by accident into the pocket of John Bunny, who goes home, changes out of his street clothes and sits in his easy chair to sleep with a newspaper over his face. Meanwhile, his wife, Flora Finch, is cleaning out the pockets and discovers the picture.

It's off to her parents, while Miss Baird discovers the locket missing and blames that horrible thief in this mild yet charming Bunnyfinch. Fat John Bunny was America's first comedy superstar. He was a capable, Pickwickian-looking actor, and at the dawn of the star era, was the unlikely beneficiary. Often paired with skinny Flora Finch, he appeared in hundreds of shorts for Vitagraph. He died in 1915, so he never suffered the aftermath of having once been a star. Miss Finch lived until 1940 and worked until her death, in increasingly minor roles.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
Life's too short to sit on our rears watching other people's work.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by sherry » Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:06 am

Because a 30-year old woman is so old :?

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

Unread post by boblipton » Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:30 pm

Pédalard boit l'obstacle aka Biker Does the Impossible (1907): It's the chase comedy in this Pathe short, but it's a good one this time. A young man gets on a bicycle for the first time and while his instructor is giving directions to someone else, the bicyclist is off, running into every obstacle imaginable and attracting the usual crowd of frantic chasers.

What makes this one better than usual is that the bicyclist is quite clearly a trick cyclist, so when he runs into an obstacle, he deal with it in a surprisingly graceful way; and as for the pursuers, at least one of their number is clearly a trained tumbler, so the usual frantic and clumsy falls are taken with surprising grace. Surprise: that's one of the essential ingredients of good comedy, and it's present here. It's too bad that except for the production company and the year, nothing else is known about this one.

and now it's back to stuff from tguinan's dvds. And yes, Sherry, that's clearly the message here. Or maybe she was fishing for a compliment. Some people have been known to do that.

Lulu's Doctor (1912): Dr. Maurice Costello has just been offered a partnership in a New York office. He proposes marriage to Clara Kimball Young. However, when she has to delay the wedding because her sister has died and she needs to go to California long enough to settle the estate and take custody of her niece, Dolores Costello. Unable to wait a month, apparently, Costello breaks the engagement. When Clara returns to New York, she leaves her niece home one day and the leg of the child's doll breaks. Fortunately, since all of New York consists of one block, guess which doctor she brings it to?

I'm not fond of this movie because of the silliness and sentimentality of the plot. More, while Maurice Costello was a fine leading actor for Vitagraph and for many a year to come, his character as a human being left much to be desired. In 1939, he sued daughters Dolores and Helene for support.... despite having had their support in movies like this.

In the Line of Duty (1915): Marion Warner is the society reporter on her paper. She has just gotten engaged to William Stowell, but something odd is going on. Jewelry keeps disappearing from these parties and she suspects who the thief is.

This Selig Polyscope drama is of the he's-going-to-prison-so-she's-the-one-we-feel-sorry-for variety, and I get it. Unfortunately, the emotional impact is muted by some very fancy camera tricks, as walls and barriers vanish, so we the audience can see what's really going on. This intended part of the grammar of film never caught on -- or if it did, died out so long ago that I can't recall seeing its like without traveling shots being incoroporated. As a result, it's just a confusing distraction. Too bad. Nice try and A for Effort.

Some Baby (1922): Snub and Marie have just gotten married, and guests are pressing gifts on them; everyone knows wedding gifts should be sent to the bride's home before the wedding. One of the boxes contains a baby and the usual note about taking care of Egbert; babies should arrive nine months after the wedding. These people know nothing. Marie, however, looks pleased; at least her child won't grow up to look like Snub.

Snub and Marie honeymoon in the traditional fashion, by smashing dishes to amuse the baby and Snub playing poker with a troupe of acrobats. While these hoary rituals are observed, all the furniture and the baby disappear, and the donating mother wants her baby back, so it's off on the chase in this very funny short.

Snub Pollard's shorts for Roach tended to be more of the white-face-clown variety than the studio's more believable characters, but the star and staff knew how to build gags and enough plot to get from one to the next;Marie Mosquini made a fine foil for him, since the young lady never seemed to notice that anything odd was happening. Eventually she retired from the screen to marry Lee DeForest and I'm sure that was odd enough for anyone.

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

Unread post by greta de groat » Fri Sep 14, 2018 11:27 pm

boblipton wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:30 pm
Lulu's Doctor (1912): Dr. Maurice Costello has just been offered a partnership in a New York office. He proposes marriage to Clara Kimball Young. However, when she has to delay the wedding because her sister has died and she needs to go to California long enough to settle the estate and take custody of her niece, Dolores Costello. Unable to wait a month, apparently, Costello breaks the engagement. When Clara returns to New York, she leaves her niece home one day and the leg of the child's doll breaks. Fortunately, since all of New York consists of one block, guess which doctor she brings it to?

I'm not fond of this movie because of the silliness and sentimentality of the plot. More, while Maurice Costello was a fine leading actor for Vitagraph and for many a year to come, his character as a human being left much to be desired. In 1939, he sued daughters Dolores and Helene for support.... despite having had their support in movies like this.


Did you see the copy on the Eye youTube channel or the one that Grapevine used to have, from a dupy 16mm print with the end cut off? The former is a much better experience, though it has dutch intertitles and lacks music.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Sat Sep 15, 2018 4:20 am

greta de groat wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 11:27 pm
boblipton wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:30 pm
Lulu's Doctor (1912): Dr. Maurice Costello has just been offered a partnership in a New York office. He proposes marriage to Clara Kimball Young. However, when she has to delay the wedding because her sister has died and she needs to go to California long enough to settle the estate and take custody of her niece, Dolores Costello. Unable to wait a month, apparently, Costello breaks the engagement. When Clara returns to New York, she leaves her niece home one day and the leg of the child's doll breaks. Fortunately, since all of New York consists of one block, guess which doctor she brings it to?

I'm not fond of this movie because of the silliness and sentimentality of the plot. More, while Maurice Costello was a fine leading actor for Vitagraph and for many a year to come, his character as a human being left much to be desired. In 1939, he sued daughters Dolores and Helene for support.... despite having had their support in movies like this.


Did you see the copy on the Eye youTube channel or the one that Grapevine used to have, from a dupy 16mm print with the end cut off? The former is a much better experience, though it has dutch intertitles and lacks music.

greta
This, like almost all the silents I've looked at over the last few days, are from tguinan's dvs.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Sat Sep 15, 2018 5:41 am

Back to the reviews of silent shorts from tguinan dvds. Which can be yours for money from his Ebay site (unpaid advertisement).

Over the Hill to the Poorhouse (1908): In the half-reel version that survives, we wind up with the mother, abandoned by her hard-hearted family, washing clothes at the poorhouse in this melodrama version of King Lear.

In researching this movie, I did my usual Google search and checked the IMDb listing -- after all, I would be posting this review there. Imagine when I found a January 8 release date, Stanner Taylor directing (three years before his next directorial credit) and such stalwarts of D.W. Griffith's company as Edward Dillon, Mack Sennett and Anthony O'Sullivan credited with major roles, six months before Mr. Griffith assumed control!

Dillon I might accept; he seems to have been with Biograph since 1905. The rest, in their first screen roles, I am calling nonsense on. This is one of those cases when someone just stuck in names and, if challenged, will likely respond with the idiocy that there's no proof they're not there.

I've looked at the short. It's not them. Aux armes, ye lovers of truth!

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

Unread post by boblipton » Sat Sep 15, 2018 8:52 am

More titles from tguinan:

East Lynne (1915): D.W. Giffith's last picture for Biograph, Brute Force was released in April of 1914. Sixteen months later they released this half-hour version of the melodramatic potboiler, and goodness, how the mighty have fallen! The camerawork is still good, but the cinematic technique is back in the bad old "Illustrated Text" days, which was the first thing that Griffith had gotten rid of. Because the story is a fallen souflee of people doing stupid and bad things and suffering, it soon grew wearisome to me.

Illustrated Text could work back then, but it required the audience to already know the story in its entirety. Otherwise it substituted the very uncinematic telling of a story for showing it.... and if you are content to be told a story, why are you looking at the movie instead of reading the Cliff Notes?

As it exists, this version shows a few competent actors -- Alan Hale, Madge Kirby, Kate Bruce -- strolling and holding unrecorded conversations with each other, while old men die with the unpaid mortgage in their hand, women abandon their husbands for no clear reason, only to return years later, fully disguised by wearing dark glasses, and similar miserable events. I suppose the geniuses at Biograph who thought they could let Griffith get away, thought this story was familiar enough that they didn't have to worry. They closed down production the following year. As for me, I have no further interest in this piece of trash.

The Desert Rat (1919): Franklyn Farnum staggers into town and collapses. Saloonkeeper Vester Pegg wants the gold, but can't get past Farnum's faithful Indian companion, Buck Jones. He has Louella Maxam nurse Farnum back to health and marry him, but he still won't say where the gold is. Into town comes Mary Bruce. She and Farnum were in love, but her daddy said no. Now he's dead.... and Farnum, despite his urges, is married.

There's a lot that's very silly about this Western short, and like his other Canyon Picture short (which, like this one, is supposedly the first one he did for them according to the IMDb), the good stuff on the screen, like some fine riding by Jones, forces the plot points into the titles near the end. Still, it's an engaging piece and doesn't flag for its length.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Sun Sep 16, 2018 6:53 am

More movies from tguinan's dvds....

When the Tables Turned (1911): When her soon-to-visit niece writes her that Texas cowboys are no longer wild and woolly, Eleanor Blanchard sends her hands to kidnap her as a joke. By mistake, they abduct vacationing Broadway actress Edith Storey...who soon realizes what's going on.

The first few minutes of this Gaston-Melies-produced short are missing, but a few titles at the beginning deal with the issues of the set-up, and it's an amusing, if simple story. Francis Ford played one of the cowboys. For those of us who are used to thinking of him John Ford's brother, playing bit parts like the ancient who rises from his deathbed to witness the big fight at the end of The Quiet Man, it's quite a turn to realize he was a major star in the 1910s, appeared in almost 300 shorts, more than 200 features, directed more than a hundred movies and got his kid brother a job on the Universal lot. It's quite a thought, that John Ford, John Wayne and dozens of other better remembered stars might never have had careers if Georges Melies had not sent his brother to Texas to shoot westerns.

The Preacher and the Gossips (1912): Handsome Arthur Johnson is the new minister at a rural congregation. When the old maids of the congregation realize that he is sweet on pretty Lottie Briscoe, they invent evidence of bad behavior.

This short subject is hampered somewhat by Lubin's now old-fashioned use of "chapter-heading" movie-making -- the natural evolution of the Illustrated Text method, but otherwise this is a fine short; Johnson has quite obviously brought the restrained pantomime technique of Biograph to his new employer. Likewise, a few scenes are shot both naturally and amusingly. I was particularly taken with the sewing circle at which the ladies get together to plot mischief.

Johnson, the son of a minister, had been one of the first actors Griffith hired when he took over at Biograph in 1908. He left a few years later, and wound up at Lubin, where his matinee-idol looks sustained the company until his early death at age 40 in 1916.

and one from the Internet:


Poursuite de cambrioleurs sur les toits
(1898?):My source, derived from a poor videotape (possibly the Huntley Archives) claims this was directed by Gaston Bretteau in 1898, like the similar Burglar on the Roof from Edison. I have no particular opinion; Hatot was still doing tableau vivante movies, but since this isn't what anyone today would call a chase, I don't find any position compelling.

The reason I don't think of it as a chase movie is that it's shot in a single, minute-long, take of a mansard roof. Burglars clamber about it, then are surrounded by climbing policemen. It's not so much a chase as a capture, but the film makers thought this a better title. I agree.

It was hard, if not impossible, to shoot anything like a chase in 1898, with its fixed camera and focal length, and single shot. The earliest movie that seems like a chase to my modern eye is James WIlliamson's Stop, Thief! from 1901. However, I am keeping my eye and mind open to earlier examples.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Sun Sep 16, 2018 3:39 pm

Circus Days (1920): The circus is coming to town! Matty Roubert want to go, but father is ill and his mother says they have to save their pennies. So Matty puts on his own circus as Our Gang or Mickey Maguire later would. The mean old farmer whose barn they have borrowed, who drinks from a jub labeled "Hard Cider" objects and scare all the kids.

This is the earliest version of the-gang-putting-on-a-circus plot I have seen, so I have to give it snaps for that. It would not surprise me if Roach saw this and said "I can do better". Star Matty Roubert, born in 1907 had started out as a screen actor with the 1910 version of Uncle Tom's Cabin. He continued onscreen, in supporting roles and stunt work until 1955, the year he got married. He died in 1973.

Ben Turpin is The Musical Marvel (1917), the piano player -- actually a one-man band in a saloon. In comes Edward Laurie, twenty-guns a-blazing, to tell him of how he loved his wife and she left him to go on stage with a tempter. When her company stops at the saloon and Ben falls in love at first sight, both men leave in pursuit of Gypsy Abbot.

Sources claim this is the best comedy that Turpin did for Vogue Comedies, where he spent some time between leaving Essanay and Mack Sennett getting through the Vogue switchboard to speak to him. Turpin's handling of the one-man band at the beginning is indeed quite funny, but the film is never shot to emphasize his goofy looks and crossed eyes. Instead, every shot is in medium or long distance, except for one medium close-up of Miss Abbot. That may be good for the flow of the story, but who on earth watches a comedy for the story?

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

Unread post by boblipton » Mon Sep 17, 2018 6:44 am

Still going through a bunch of tguinan's dvds....

Do many people still read William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair (1911)? The year I write this, ITV has produced a three-part mini-series (the BBC seems far more interested in frequent remakes of Jane Austen's novels for purposes of using Georgian clothes and stately homes for historical opii of feminism), but the novel, which was once considered important enough that the first three-strip Technicolor feature, Becky Sharp, was based on it, seems to have fallen largely out of public consciousness.

This was not the situation in 1911 when Vitagraph released a three-reel version of the story -- a massive undertaking when almost all movies ran from half a reel to two in length. I was only able to look at the final reel, and that in a poor copy. Assuming the earlier parts of the movie were produced in the same manner, it turns out to be beautifully costumed, with the company putting its best foot forward in terms of cast and direction. The story is told by the "chapter heading" method of film; the audience is told what they are about to see, then shown. This indicates that Vitagraph thought its audience would be familiar enough with the story that they could infer the details of the story from the action.

I could not. I've not read the novel. Neither did I have the earlier two reels, which might have illuminated the sense of the scenes.

Near to Earth (1913): Lionel Barrymore and brother Bobby Harron farm the seaside cliffs. Barrymore loves Gertrude Bambrick. However, once they are married, he seems more interested in business and wearing his hat inside the house. Gertrude feels neglected and dallies with hired man Walter Miller.

It's not one of D.W. Griffith's better Biograph shorts, where he tries to be a bit silly. Mae Marsh and other Biograph company actresses, watching Barrymore's hesitant courtship, bounce up and down like giggling schoolgirls.... but that's how Griffith seemed to view unmarried girls. Over all, Griffith seems to have used this simple tale of foolish peasant love and jealousy as an excuse for filming some scenery on one of his company's annual treks to California. It's beautiful scenery. Plus, given Griffith's practiced command of cinema and his cast and crew's ability, it's worth watching for its casual attitude.

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

Unread post by Jim Roots » Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:55 pm

Bob, you would love the novel.

Jim

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

Unread post by Dean Thompson » Mon Sep 17, 2018 2:50 pm

boblipton wrote:
Mon Sep 17, 2018 6:44 am


Do many people still read William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair (1911)?

Some English majors and graduate students are reading it yet, Bob: Vanity Fair remains a staple in the Survey of British Novel course at the college where I teach, as it does in a number of liberal arts colleges, at least in the Southeast. Thackeray is still an occasional subject of doctoral dissertations, and a new screen adaptation of Vanity Fair seems to come out every few years, though I can't abide the 2004 version with Reese Witherspoon, which attempts to rewrite Becky Sharp as a sympathetic character. I'd like to see the ITV mini-series.

As Jim has posited, the novel is wonderful.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Mon Sep 17, 2018 5:32 pm

Dean, Jim, right now I am reading Sir Walter Scott (about to start Rob Roy), but I'll certainly keep your recommendations in mind when I've made my way through. In the meantime, some more shorts thanks to tguinan.

When a Man Loves (1911): Wealthy Dell Henderson is visiting George Nichols, and is smitten with his old friend's daughter, Mary Pickford. Nichols is delighted, but Mary loves Charles West. On Henderson's next visit, he claims his car is broken, and is given Mary's bedroom.... on the night when she is to elope with West.

Mack Sennett would have his own unit at Biograph directing comedies, but his first release would not be for a couple of months. In the meantime, Griffith directed this comedy with his top troupe, and it is a funny and charming affair. Notice Mary's business with West while Nichols is lecturing her, or Henderson's slightly pompous but kind performance.

Sennett would produce variations on Father-wants-daughter-to-marry-one-man-but-she-loves-another many times, well into the sound era. In his versions, however, there would always be something obnoxious about father's choice. Griffith demonstrates that you don't have to make a villain of anyone for a sympathetic couple, or for some pleasant laughs.

A Virginia Feud (1913): The feud between their families has been going on for a long time, but James Vincent and Alice Hollister want to get married. The older folk reluctantly agree. However, Vincent's younger brother hates the idea. On the way to the wedding, he accidentally shoots his younger sister. Vincent tells him to head to the wedding site and explain he's delayed tending to the girl. His brother decides this is the way to break the marriage and start the shooting again.

Director Kenean Buel directs the first half of this Kalem two-reeler for comedy about hillbilly feuds; Henry Hallam and James B. Ross, as the fathers, go through the procedure with a funereal air that is quite funny. The movie shifts gears, quickly and expertly as the situation falls apart. Although I am not fond of much of Kalem's movies, this one works very nicely.

Polishing Up (1914): Flora Finch tells husband John Bunny that he is looking shabby. She is going away for a few weeks and realizes she is a back number herself. While she is gone, Bunny spiffs up his wardrobe and meets pretty young Phyllis Grey and Emily Hayes. They are going to a seaside resort. Why doesn't he go to. When he gets there, he is given a room next to Flora, who has sprained her ankle; she is being attended to by Doctor William Humphrey, who thinks her a rich widow. The young women -- one can hardly call them ladies -- make friends with Flora and dish the dirt to the nice old people.

It's a very nice Bunnyfinch, one of the almost hundred times that Vitagraph paired them together, and it's easy to see why they were popular -- even though by report they didn't get along. They play their roles to the hilt. Both of them play very flatterable people, with a good sense of humor and a love of gossip that makes this one, although the coincidental nature of the set-up, very amusing.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:11 am

More from tguinan dvds:

A Bedroom Scandal (1921) is among the first block of shorts that Monty Banks starred in for Warner Brothers. It had wrapped production the previous summer, but there had been no distribution until Warners released it themselves. Monty Banks plays the new husband of Bee Jamieson... with a roving eye. He works as the designer and sempster at a department store, which gives him plenty of opportunity to deal attentively with pretty women. The usual assortment of comic mishaps occur.

Although in broad outline, this is an unremarkable comedy, Banks and director Herman Raynmaker ornament the comic sequences nicely. In the chase, not only does Banks run in a funny manner, he falls down occasionally, and there is a nice variation on the sort of multi-door chase that Friz Freleng would use frequently in his cartoons. Banks career would continue to rise steadily, although by the end of the decade he would largely retreat behind the camera, where his comedy training would make him a popular director in England.

Sea Sirens (1919): Bobby Vernon is an artist. He's painting cheesecake pictures down by the shore, when Patricia Palmer shows up. They quickly fall in love -- this is a one-reeler, after all -- but her father hates artists. He unbends sufficiently to agree to let the couple marry if Bobby paints a picture good enough for him to buy.... which he has no intention of doing, of course.

This Christie comedy is, typically for Christies of this period, a rather mild affair, but it's eked out nicely with a bevy of beauties who frolic unconvincing in one-piece bathing suits and some decent acting. Al Christie was still holding out against pure slapstick; as a result, his productions were continuing to lose ground against Sennett-style and he would lose distribution for a while. Within a couple of years he would give up the fight, retreat to the business office and leave the writing and direction to others.

Nonetheless, this is a very pleasant little comedy, carried on the acting and charms of the heads. And all those girls in bathing suits, of course.

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Tue Sep 18, 2018 3:15 pm

boblipton wrote:
Mon Sep 17, 2018 6:44 am
Still going through a bunch of tguinan's dvds....

Do many people still read William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair (1911)? The year I write this, ITV has produced a three-part mini-series (the BBC seems far more interested in frequent remakes of Jane Austen's novels for purposes of using Georgian clothes and stately homes for historical opii of feminism), but the novel, which was once considered important enough that the first three-strip Technicolor feature, Becky Sharp, was based on it, seems to have fallen largely out of public consciousness.

This was not the situation in 1911 when Vitagraph released a three-reel version of the story -- a massive undertaking when almost all movies ran from half a reel to two in length. I was only able to look at the final reel, and that in a poor copy. Assuming the earlier parts of the movie were produced in the same manner, it turns out to be beautifully costumed, with the company putting its best foot forward in terms of cast and direction. The story is told by the "chapter heading" method of film; the audience is told what they are about to see, then shown. This indicates that Vitagraph thought its audience would be familiar enough with the story that they could infer the details of the story from the action.

I could not. I've not read the novel. Neither did I have the earlier two reels, which might have illuminated the sense of the scenes.

Near to Earth (1913): Lionel Barrymore and brother Bobby Harron farm the seaside cliffs. Barrymore loves Gertrude Bambrick. However, once they are married, he seems more interested in business and wearing his hat inside the house. Gertrude feels neglected and dallies with hired man Walter Miller.

It's not one of D.W. Griffith's better Biograph shorts, where he tries to be a bit silly. Mae Marsh and other Biograph company actresses, watching Barrymore's hesitant courtship, bounce up and down like giggling schoolgirls.... but that's how Griffith seemed to view unmarried girls. Over all, Griffith seems to have used this simple tale of foolish peasant love and jealousy as an excuse for filming some scenery on one of his company's annual treks to California. It's beautiful scenery. Plus, given Griffith's practiced command of cinema and his cast and crew's ability, it's worth watching for its casual attitude.

Bob
Having sold second-hand books for over thirty-one years, I can safely say that Thackeray is seldom read aside from cheap paperbacks or leatherbound volumes. I could probably sell the dreariest book in the world if it was full calf! Some years ago I bought a run of nicely bound volumes c1900 of which I still have four or five. Admittedly I was asked for 'Vanity Fair' a few weeks ago, but only because of the TV adaption. The fellow had no interest in any of the others.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:17 am

More silents from tguinan dvds....

Weak Knees (1925): Virginia Vance's father wants her to marry a count who has a couple of sidekicks to help him rob his hosts. Miss Vance, however, is engaged to Cliff Bowes. When she introduces him to father, he dislikes him because Cliff has blown up his car. Quite by accident, of course.

It's a one-reel Cameo release from Educational and it runs through the comedy bits far too hastily and in far too generic a fashion, including people wandering around draped in bedsheets, without any reason or urge to remove them. The joke titles also seem forced and not too funny. This is one of those comedy shorts whose virtue lies in it being short... but its hackneyed gags and random set-ups means it isn't quite short enough.

Meet the Missus (1924): Glen Tryon and Blanche Mehaffey are a young and bickering couple. When he gets a raise from his boss, Glen invites the man for dinner and everyone pulls together: Glen, Blanche, the snapping dog and the cook who drinks half the gin and replaces it with kerosene in this amusing comedy from Hal Roach.

With Harold Lloyd going independent, Roach was trying to find a replacement: a young, normal-looking man who gets into comic scrapes. He hired Tryon for the task, but after a couple of years Tryon proved to be a capable player who didn't set the world on fire. You couldn't tell it from this comedy, which takes all the gags for the situation and puts them together in a rising arc of insanity. Glen's career would not suffer. He would move on to Universal, where he appeared in some fine shorts and features. After 1932, he moved mostly behind the camera and did ok for himself.

The Shrinking Rawhide: (1912) Senorita Betty Harte turns down Alcalde Hobart Bosworth's marriage proposal because she loves caballero Herbert Rawlinson. Bosworth hires an Indian to kill his rival in this mediocre short film.

Bosworth came to the movies because his tuberculosis meant he had to be outside in warm climates, and the industry in California was just the place for him. He ran his own productions, releasing first through Selig and later through Paramount, until he joined the company. His star slid gradually as he aged, to major supporting actor, but at his death in 1943, he was still in demand for "elder statesman" roles, having racked up almost 300 roles, split between shorts and feature -- not to mention almost 60 directing credits.

This, alas, is not one of his more distinguished efforts, with a script that depends on coincidence, intuition and people more interested in playing dress-up and posing than in acting -- I blame director Frank Montgomery.

Bosworth didn't hold any ill-will for Rawlinson's leding role here; it was basically Bosowrth's repertory company, and he cast the roles as correctly as he could. That's why when he made his version of Jack London's The Sea Wolf a year later, he gave Rawlinson the role of protagonist Humphrey van Weydon -- but played Wolf Larsen himself.

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

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:21 am

Van Weydon is the protagonist? Somebody tell Michael Curtiz.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Harlett O'Dowd » Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:50 am

Doing some more DVR cleaning and finally got to see THE WINNING OF BARBARA WORTH.

Another TCM silent warhorse (along with MERRY WIDOW and LOVE) to get a live organ score.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I really like these live scores and if anyone from TCM is lurking, please consider doing more. I would imagine it would an extremely efficient and cost-effective way to score films not yet ready-for airing.

The film itself was fine, but not one I need to revisit. Coleman, Banky and (especially) Cooper were impossibly young and pretty. The sandstorm at the beginning was impressive, the flood at the end, OK.

And we get a swastika, ironically as the design on a throw pillow in the sofa on which the heavy, E J Ratcliffe, is placed following his unlikely rescue from the floodwaters.

One more note on Ratcliffe - did I notice him fall from his wagon TWICE during the climatic stampede/flood sequence?

Interesting to have three big flood films in 1926 - Fox's JOHNSTOWN FLOOD and MGM's TORRENT (both released Feb 1926) and this Goldwyn effort, released later in the year. Makes me wonder if Goldwyn was trying to cash in on a trend (the building-a-community sequences are also reminiscent of Ford's THE IRON HORSE.)

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

Unread post by Jim Roots » Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:54 am

boblipton wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:17 am
Meet the Missus (1924): Glen Tryon and Blanche Mehaffey are a young and bickering couple. When he gets a raise from his boss, Glen invites the man for dinner and everyone pulls together: Glen, Blanche, the snapping dog and the cook who drinks half the gin and replaces it with kerosene in this amusing comedy from Hal Roach.

With Harold Lloyd going independent, Roach was trying to find a replacement: a young, normal-looking man who gets into comic scrapes. He hired Tryon for the task, but after a couple of years Tryon proved to be a capable player who didn't set the world on fire. You couldn't tell it from this comedy, which takes all the gags for the situation and puts them together in a rising arc of insanity. Glen's career would not suffer. He would move on to Universal, where he appeared in some fine shorts and features. After 1932, he moved mostly behind the camera and did ok for himself.
He fathered Tom Tryon, who had a major book hit in the '70s with his novel The Other, which also became a movie hit.

Jim

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

Unread post by Roscoe » Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:26 am

Nope -- Thomas Tryon was not related to Glenn Tryon, per wikipedia at least.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Jim Roots » Wed Sep 19, 2018 12:03 pm

Roscoe wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:26 am
Nope -- Thomas Tryon was not related to Glenn Tryon, per wikipedia at least.
Who're you gonna believe, me or Wiki?

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

Unread post by Rick Lanham » Wed Sep 19, 2018 12:19 pm

Jim Roots wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 12:03 pm

Who're you gonna believe, me or Wiki?

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

Unread post by boblipton » Thu Sep 20, 2018 4:54 am

Some of the Texas Guinan movies that tguinan is giving away on another thread are:

A Moonshine Feud (1920): This two-reeler from 1920 has Texas Guinan and her brothers living in a shack. When handsome Pat Hartigan comes moseying around, they tie him backwards on his horse and send him on his way; they're not moonshiners themselves, but they'll have no truck with revenuers. However, when they realize he's helpless if he encounters the gun-toting bunch, they spring into action in this watchable but choppily-paced short subject.

Before she became famous for running her own speakeasy in New York, Miss Guinan, a daughter of Waco, Texas spent time on the vaudeville stage and from 1917 through 1921 starred in about forty westerns features and short subjects as a girl of action. Eventually she decided that it was easier to make money by greeting illegal drinkers with the cry "Hello, suckers! Leave your money on the bar."

The Gun Woman (1918): Texas Guinan is the Tigress, owner of "resort" in a struggling mining town. Men kill themselves because she won't marry them. Off the stage come two men: Ed Brady, a proper Boston who is penniless. Him she offers a grubstake. He falls in love with her. The other is Francis McDonald. Him she falls in love with.

He tells her that he has a business in mind, and once it's a success, there's a little cottage waiting for her. She lets him set up a rigged gambling wheel. When he has enough money, off he goes, saying he'll send for her. Meanwhile, there's a strike nearby and everyone pulls up stakes and heads off, except for Guinan and Brady. That's where McDonald has set up his own "resort" with nary a thought for her.

It's a very good story and it's directed by Frank Borzage (although that did not mean what it would come to mean over the next fifteen year). It remains good throughout. Yet watching it, I could see that Texas Guinan was not a good enough actress.

It was through no fault of hers. She had come to Triangle from the vaudeville circuit (even earlier she had been a Sunday school teacher and Lowell Thomas had been her pupil), and shows herself capable for light acting. She's got an easy, happy smile and a casual go-to-Hell stance that she must have used a lot running a speakeasy in the 1920s and telling the Feds off. Yet here she is, appearing ina Borzage movie, and it's Borzage's meat: ordinary love that runs so deep that it becomes something else, something mystical, something overwhelming. Miss Guinan is never overwhelmed.She's a good businesswoman who can face up to reality. She's glad to do a favor, and kind, but she never loses self-possession. The closest she comes to it is moving very slowly, which looks weird.

So she made a few more features, and short subjects, for increasingly minor companies. Eventually she left for greener fields, to speakeasies, where her easy, I'm-in-charge and Hello-Suckers was just what the customers were looking for. And Borzage went back to work, sometimes making one for the studio, one for himself, waiting for the actress who could play that role. It took ten years.

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

Unread post by Harlowgold » Thu Sep 20, 2018 2:48 pm

Three by Chaplin, a bunch of "firsts" -
Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914) Chaplin's first film as the Little Tramp and six minutes of nothing IMO, this might have been funny a hundred years ago but it's pretty blah, one gag (Chaplin getting in the way of a photographer at the races over and over) repeated for six minutes.
A Dog's Life (1918) Chaplin's first film for First National, the tramp rescues a stray dog (the sensational "Scraps") in a dog fight and finds a new companion. I enjoyed this one although I was a little concerned how un-lifelike Scraps seemed in the segment in which Charlie uses him for a pillow, having read the horror story of the cat in the production of Monsieur Verdoux. On closer inspection, Scraps does twitch his closed eyes a bit in this segment so he was still among the living, albeit possibly given the Judy Garland treatment to perform.
A Woman of Paris (1923) Chaplin's first drama and first film as a director in which he does not appear outside of a cameo as an extra. This one has Edna Purviance as the little tramp, although not of the same ilk. I found this a rather provocative film given Purviance's character seems initially set up to be a poor little thing mistreated by her controlling step-father only to show that she is indeed a impulsive little floozy who has managed to fool a young artist who loves her. Purviance is excellent in a rare female lead in the silent era for an unsympathetic character; hardly a surprise this was not a box-office success. How Chaplin thought such a part would lead her to stardom in that era is beyond me. Adolphe Menjou is always hailed as the best thing in the movie as the rich Frenchman who takes her on as a mistress but I think both Edna and Carl Miller (as the young artist who's heart she is reckless with) top him. Charles Farrell reportedly has a bit as one of the restaurant patrons, can anybody spot him? Is that really Bess Flowers as the partygoer who is "unwrapped" before the leering guests (she always comes across very conservative in her interviews!!) And who is the bit character actress who plays the old rich dame with a gigolo at the restaurant? And how amusing that Edna's most devious and plotting pal among the golddiggers is named Paulette!! A quite remarkable film IMO despite an ending that rivals Mark of the Vampire as the most absurd of all time (is it true the European release had a more provocative - and credible - ending? If so, does it exist anywhere such as a dvd extra?)

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

Unread post by boblipton » Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:14 pm

More Texas Guinan from tguinan dvds. Who'da thunk it?

The Spirit of Cabin Mine (1918): The first half of this is missing, but the titles explain the story so far. An Indian invades a cabin at a gold man, kills the wife and takes the baby to raise as his own daughter. He tells everyone the mine is haunted so they won't discover his perfidy. The daughter grows up to be Texas Guinan. Two White men are after her, the other villain in the piece; he wants the gold and persuades the Indian to kill the miner, who has been sitting there for a couple of decades, building up his pile. The younger one is in love with Texas and offers to marry her, but she turns him down because "My blood is red and your blood is white."

That clangorous line is typical for the movie. The acting and situations are off a piece and although Miss Guinan turns out to be the action heroine at the end, her acting is .... well, not of the best. Eventually she would give up the movies and become famous for her speakeasy in Manhattan, achieving a fame so great that in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Whoopi Goldberg's bartending character was called Guinan.

South of Santa Fe (1919): Jack Richardson has been neglecting his duties as ranch foreman to go into town to gamble -- and worse, to lose. His wife, Anna Purdon, who owns the ranch, fires him and hires a series of foremen to manage the wild hands. All get driven off until Texas Guinan shows up and shows them that a calico dress can be tougher than chaps. Richardson, however, wants money for gambling, so he has his girlfriend get a tattoo like Texas'. They rob the ranch's safe and pin the job on Our Heroine.

This is a lively short subject, and here's the evidence that Texas Guinan was a woman who could ride a horse and be a good performer in a lively comedy. It's merely good, instead of excellent, because there are serious sequences in which she tries, unsuccessfully, to look soulful, her "star marketing" was that she was a rootin', tootin' Texan and real woman too, and the titles are over-written. Even so, there's a good deal of fun to be had in this one

The White Squaw (1920) Commenting on this movie is difficult. Originally made in 1920 and a two-reeler, it was recut as a single reel about 1930 to take advantage of Texas Guinan's notoriety as "Queen of the Bootleggers" and released with one of those soundtrack that made fun of the goings-on. In addition, many of the copies were mislabeled as A Moonshine Feud and the IMDb credits reflect that error.

As it exists, it appears that Miss Guinan is once again a White girl raised by and thinking she is an Indian. An elderly lady appears with the hero's mother (who is clearly aghast at the red-skinned girl loved by her son) and another lady who tells of how her husband was killed and her baby stolen when she was absent. The implication is that the second woman will turn out to be Texas' mother, and the love affair approved. In the meantime, there are fights on horseback, a struggle between a bad guy and Texas, and gold hidden beneath the floorboards of a shack.

Some of these portions are clearly out of sequence and the action is sped up to make it ridiculous. Little can be made of the worth of the film as originally released. However, Miss Guinan registers anger quite well while the woman is talking about "the squaw".

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

Unread post by tguinan » Thu Sep 20, 2018 8:51 pm

[/quote]

Did you see the copy on the Eye youTube channel or the one that Grapevine used to have, from a dupy 16mm print with the end cut off? The former is a much better experience, though it has dutch intertitles and lacks music.

greta
[/quote]

Hi Greta, The version of Lulu's Doctor was scanned from my personal collection of films

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