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

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

Unread post by tguinan » Thu Sep 20, 2018 8:53 pm

My goodness Bob, you must have been binge watching in order to get through all those films. Glad you enjoyed most of them!

Mike

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

Unread post by tguinan » Thu Sep 20, 2018 10:20 pm

boblipton wrote:
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).


Bob
For anyone interested in any of these films that Bob been reviewing they are on Ebay and I just lowered the price on them. I know, shameless self promotion. But 100% of the sale goes to The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum so it's a good cause. All of the films with the exception of five of the Texas Guinan films )which were copied from the LOC and BFI) come from my personal collection of films. They are not restored, simply scanned as they are. Sorry I don't have the time or money to do restorations. I'm just a film collector sharing some of the rarer films I own. I have added a royalty free soundtrack to each film, if you don't like my selection feel free to turn the volume down and play something you enjoy. Most of these films you will not find anywhere else.

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

Unread post by FrankFay » Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:12 am

Harlowgold wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 2:48 pm
Is that really Bess Flowers as the partygoer who is "unwrapped" before the leering guests (she always comes across very conservative in her interviews!!)
It could be. The clip is online- the woman has Bess's height & figure & the face certainly looks like her- to me the clincher is her teeth. Bess had slightly prominent upper teeth which gave her a certain look when she opened her mouth and smiled- the actress has that look: [youtube]https://youtu.be/mlYACLWRHT4[/youtube]
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by boblipton » Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:29 am

tguinan wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 8:53 pm
My goodness Bob, you must have been binge watching in order to get through all those films. Glad you enjoyed most of them!

Mike

I watch stuff as it becomes available, and I'd say that these dvds contain about 50% material that I've never seen before, which is a pretty rich vein. I still have a few of the Texas Guinans to go through, but I expect to be finished by next week. Unless TCM runs more Ritz Brothers movies I haven't seen before, in which case I will smash my set.

Thanks for making these available!

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

Unread post by boblipton » Sat Sep 22, 2018 7:58 am

On to the last set of tguinan dvds with....

Texas Guinan is The Wildcat and all the men in town are scared of her. The lone exception is a newly arrived artist, Pat Hartigan. When she finds him painting a portrait of her, she is mildly impressed. They are promptly robbed by a masked desperado, who steals her mother's ring. When later in town, she finds the ring in the dirt, the artist is jailed for stealing it. Miss Guinan says she doesn't think he did it.

Most of the Texas Guinan shorts are mediocre stories, enlivened by the idea of the action heroine, presenting her as good as a man, but a real woman, too. This one has a poor story, as indicated above. The titles are stilted and formal -- that may be because they have been translated from Dutch; the copy I saw was derived from the Eye Institute's print.

The camerawork was very good, with some nice framing and good stunt photography. Hartigan looks a bit like Harold Lloyd.

The Girl of Hell's Agony (1919): When Texas Guinan's father is killed, she takes over his bar in mining country. Sheriff Jack Richardson takes a fancy to her, but wandering miner George Cheseboro helps put paid to his ambitions. When rumors arise that Cheseboro has been robbing and killing other prospectors, Richardson decides this is a good time to get his revenge with a short rope.

Although the last few minutes of this Texas Guinan short seem to have been butchered, it's the best of them I have seen: good photography, characters that make sense and some very well written titles adorn this movie. In addition, although there are problems with the ending, this copy derived from a BFI print was in good shape for a western short of the age; there's some film damage, but not enough to ruin or even obscure any frame.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Wed Sep 26, 2018 3:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by boblipton » Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:46 pm

There's a problem with looking at a 12-minute Pathe baby cutdown of the five-reel The Captive God (1916), which seems to have been projected too slow under the title Rival Tribes. It winds up looking like one of the 1930s shorts in which they made fun of silent movies: not the Pete Smith ones, either. Pete's nonsensical comments are funny. I had to do some research to discover that Enid Markey's character was not originally named "Princess Tacki" to indicate her poor fashion sense, nor wonder whether it is a wise thing for an Aztec to say "I'd rather die than marry P. Dempsey Tabler" -- which is the actor's name, not the character's -- when the Aztecs practice human sacrifice. Apparently the decision was to keep in the beefcake photos of William S. Hart, and to heck with the rest.

I seem to be babbling, so let's give a brief indication of the set-up: Mr. Tabler (Aztec) has just won a major battle against the Mayans. Montezuma offers him his choice of rewards, and he choose Princess Enid Markey. She says no way, etc. and discovers William S. Hart (Mayan), who asks her to hide him. She does, they neck, are discovered and are sentenced to "a barbarous ceremony before the sacrifice."

Because the barbarous ceremony consists of being pelted with flowers, I'd take the ceremony. I was not asked, so when the Mayans swoop in to rescue Hart and Markey from ... well, I'd like to write "a fate worse than death", but to the editors who did the cutdown, that seems to be being hit by flowers and I disagree with that assessment. The Mayan army rescues the good guys. Yay, I suppose.

There are lots of rags and tags of William S. Hart's movies, and I wish they survived in better shape. Not only was Hart a fine actor (even with his shirt on), but his westerns about the Good Bad Man were seminal. In addition, the camerawork was by Joseph August (and here, Clyde de Vinna) and that's a cameraman whose work was worth looking at. De Vinna's too.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Sun Sep 23, 2018 3:47 pm

Thanks to one of the threads here, I finally found a watchable copy of Saturday Night (1922) with English titles...or rather, subtitles.... for the first two-thirds. More than good enough.

Leatrice Joy throws over her rich fiance, Conrad Nagel, to wed her chauffeur, Jack Mower. Her uncle, Theodore Roberts, disinherits her. Nagel shows some initiative by marrying his pretty laundress, Edith Roberts. Neither his mother nor his snobbish sister, played by Julia Faye, care for this. Both couples insist they are happy, even though Leatrice burns the roast and Edith falls asleep at dinner parties. Matters continue to worsen in Cecil DeMille's movie about what happens after 'they lived happily ever after.'

This is one of DeMille's movies about the rich having a great time in the first five reels until the price is paid in the sixth, and there are wild parties aplenty; Miss Roberts watches the Best People behave like fools, and then takes off for Coney Island, His message is essentially normative, as it usually is: like should marry like, even though it's fun to watch the big mistakes, like Edith trying to eat soap. The performances are all pretty good, but as usual, Teddy Roberts steals his two scenes and Miss Faye is enchanting as the young snob; Jeannie McPherson, the screenwriter and fellow DeMille mistress always wrote her a good one.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Sun Sep 23, 2018 4:51 pm

The Other Half (1919) has Charles Meredith coming back from the war an officer. He turns down his father's offer as a executive in his steel plant. He worked his way up in the army on his abilities, and he'll do the same in civilian life. So he takes a manual job in the plant and makes friends while his father works himself to death.

After that, he takes over, and runs things exactly by the book... his father's book of "no sentimentality. This doesn't please Florence Vidor, who has turned activist and whom he asks to marry; nor David Butler, who is blinded when Meredith refuses to make improvements for safety, nor Zasu Pitts (who, as usual, steals the show), who's going to marry Butler.

This activist movie may seem a bit odd compared to some of the blaring anti-Communist films that the industry was turning out at the time, but it's directed by King Vidor, and he did this sort of thing occasionally: the Crowd and Our Daily Bread were just two of the movies in which he offered old-fashioned decency as a balm to the wearying and sometimes deadly hand of capitalism. Here's a third.

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

Unread post by FrankFay » Sun Sep 23, 2018 5:54 pm

boblipton wrote:
Sun Sep 23, 2018 4:51 pm

This activist movie may seem a bit odd compared to some of the blaring anti-Communist films that the industry was turning out at the time, but it's directed by King Vidor, and he did this sort of thing occasionally: the Crowd and Our Daily Bread were just two of the movies in which he offered old-fashioned decency as a balm to the wearying and sometimes deadly hand of capitalism. Here's a third.

Bob
Sounds like a good companion to Henry King's WHO PAYS? (1915)
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Brooksie » Sun Sep 23, 2018 10:34 pm

There were at least two Nitratevilleans in the audience for a historic event at Portland's Hollywood Theatre this past Saturday. For the first time in over 88 years, the sound of an authentic pipe organ rang through the main auditorium. And boy, was it glorious! As house organist Dean Lemire led off with a floor-rumbling base note, you could feel the excitement building amongst the near capacity crowd. Paul Leni's The Cat and the Canary (1927) was an ideal selection to inaugurate the restoration, spearheaded by the Columbia River Theatre Organ Society (CRTOS) and accomplished entirely by volunteers.

The film is something of a warhorse, but one that benefits immensely from being shown to a large, appreciative audience. Lovely Annabelle (Laura La Plante) is amongst the descendants of a wealthy recluse who, assembling at his dusty mansion to hear the reading of his will, finds themselves at the centre of strange occurences, including murder, diamond theft and a concerted attempt to drive Annabelle insane. Is the perpetrator a madman, another potential heir, or something supernatural? It may be sacrilege to admit it that I prefer Leni's The Last Warning (1929) - but this is not to take away from its predecessor, a visual treat and thematic landmark that only makes you mourn for what might have been, if not for Leni's untimely passing in 1929.

The theatre organ restoration is ongoing, and we'll hear an even more complete instrument at CRTOS's next monthly screenings, with The Phantom of the Opera to come in October and Nosferatu the following month. Onward and upward!

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

Unread post by Roscoe » Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:59 am

Checked out Lubitsch's MADAME DUBARRY in the very nice BFI Blu-Ray. Pola Negri has a grand old time, charming basically anything that moves, and good old Emil Jannings is most enjoyable as Louis XV. Nicely done on all counts, even if the history gets a little rushed -- toward the end of the film, about twenty years of time gets compressed into what looks like about a week. Some rather outlandish plot mechanics toward the end are handled with an uncharacteristic clumsiness -- Lubitsch is far more sure of himself in matters of flirtation and sexual politicking. A scene of Emil Jannings' Louis XV removing reading and signing a rolled document concealed in Negri's cleavage, and then insisting on re-inserting it into Negri's cleavage, just has to be seen to be believed.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Battra92 » Mon Sep 24, 2018 7:01 am

I watched the Mauritz Stiller directed Johann. It was a fairly good copy, though some macroblocking made the river scenes look like they were on a VCD (remember those.) Still, a good movie and I'm glad I watched it.

My father and I spent yesterday morning watching the first disc of Slapstick Encyclopedia. Very nice set in spite of the Comic Sans.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Mon Sep 24, 2018 3:29 pm

For those of you who don't read Dutch, the Youtube site

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCC2uUf ... lxg/videos

has taken several of the silents posted on the Eye Institute site and reposting them with English subtitles. Whoever has been doing the translation has problems with the tenses of the English language. However it has rendered several of the Eye Institute posts that I haven't watched because I don't know Dutch very watchable, including

The Little Minister (1921): The town of Thrums in Scotland is in an uproar. The weavers' wages have been cut and they're meeting and rioting because of it. The local nobleman, Edwin Stevens, controls the wages and he has no intention of doing so. Instead he's sent the local army regiment (who wear full dress uniform on all occasions) to capture the gypsy girl, Betty Compson, who has been distributing food to the poor and helping the leaders escape -- with the unwitting collusion of George Hackathorne, the new minister, who has fallen in love with the wild creature. The gossipy Church elders are aghast. None of these men know that she's really Lady Barbara, daughter of Edwin Stevens, playing dress up and enjoying the liberty of being a despised creature.

The movie glides along its plot rapidly, propelled by the J.M. Barrie story, a little too abruptly for my taste at a mere hour in length. However the director is Penrhyn Stanlaws. He rose to prominence as an illustrator; among his models were Mabel Normand and Florence Labadie, There's certainly evidence of the film to show that he had a fine eye for beauty, not only of the feminine variety, but of outdoor scenery and group compositions.

Although I prefer versions like the Katherine Hepburn movie of the 1930s, this one is good to watch and talky enough with its many titles in standard English. It's worthwhile for the visuals, even if the story is reduced to its outlines.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Tue Sep 25, 2018 6:30 am

Der Millionenonkel aka The Millionaire Uncle (1913): Count Hubert Marischka has a passion for actress Marietta Weber, so when his wife goes to visit her mother, he invites the lady to join him at home and a masquerade. When his uncle comes to visit, he mistakes her for his nephew's wife and they all go to the maked ball in costume. Little does Marischka suspect that his wife has actually gone to a hotel and she, too, will show up in fancy dress.

Marischka was the brother of Ernst Marischka, who co-wrote this movie with him and popular Viennese comic/songwriter Alexander Girardi. This movie was an attempt to translate Viennese light opera to the screen, with asides. fake duels, and musical cues shown on the screen -- including Girardi's popular 'Fiacrelied'. The Marischkas would continue their screen careers for many decades; Ernst was most famous for helping to write the screenplay for A Song to Remember and the Sissi trilogy. Girardi would die in 1918.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:18 pm

Here's another film that involves people in masks:L'Amazzone Mascherata aka The Masked Amazon (1914): Alberto Collo is charged with compiling a survey of his country's cavalry positions. Emilio Ghione feeds him some knockout drops and steals the documents. He sells them to his nation (in the German print called 'Silistria'; war was still four months away and Bulgarian cities made a suitable substitute). Collo is found guilty of treason. When his wife finds Ghione's monogrammed cufflinks, she works out who the villain is. Using her 'Amazonian' riding abilities, she joins a traveling circus as 'The Masked Amazon', encounters Ghione and forces him to give her his correspondence about the espionage.

It's a rather simple and straightforward story, with a silly denouement, but it is well shot by Giorgio Ricci (the copy I saw was tinted) and the actors are very good in their performances. At an hour's length it's as good a spy feature as you're likely to find for its year.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Tue Sep 25, 2018 5:04 pm

Lieutenant Rose and the Chinese Pirates (1910) When Chinese pirates capture two British ladies and a fellow naval officer, it's up to a valiant lapdog -- and P.G. Norgate as the valiant Lieutenant Rose -- to rescue them.

Percy Stowe directed, and Mr. Norgate starred in about fifteen short subjects about Lieutenant Rose -- and his crew of Able Seamen and in this case, a valiant lapdog -- from 1910 through 1915 for release through Clarendon. It's clearly shot on cheap studio sets (I couldn't sea the backdrop shimmy), but it has some good photographic effects and the sort of simple-minded patriotism that appealed to its British audience back then.

Stowe, who had directed the 1903 Alice in Wonderland and the cinematically inventive 1908 The Tempest seems to have spent his last half decade as a house director for Clarendon. He made his last film in 1916 and died three years later.

Frau Blechnudel Will Kinoschauspielerin Werden aka Mrs. Brassnoodle Wants to Be A Movie Actress (1915): The stout comic wants to be a movie actress and have Richard Talmadge make love to her. Her husband, of course thinks she is mad. However, a letter to a director gets her a try-out at a casting call, where she proceeds to be a disaster.

It's a Viggo Larsen short comedy, one of hundreds he directed from about 1905 through 1921. This one was made during his 35 year sojourn in Germany. While the reactions of those about her are well performed, it's short, cruel, primitive and not very humorous beyond making fun of foolish people. That is probably why it is difficult to find.

The Pirates of 1920 (1911): When William Schweck Gilbert had Ruth apprentice Frederick to a pirate instead of to a pilot, he missed a bet. In this scientifictional two-reeler from what should have been the middle of his apprenticeship shows that the pirates will pilot dirigibles and take ships from above. After stealing some canisters from the liner, the pirates take back to the air, pursued only by a lone young man. After they subdue him, they discover a picture of his sweetheart and the Pirate King -- I mean captain -- abducts her.

It's an imaginative story for 1911, and the special effects (model work, mostly) are decently if imperfectly rendered. It's still very clearly primitive, particularly the acting, but it would be nice if the last few minutes of this ambitious two-reel voyage extraordinare were available for viewing.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Sep 26, 2018 5:20 pm

Agrippina (1911): On the death of Claudius, Agrippina makes the Senate of Rome decree Nero Emperor. He begins poisoning his opponents. Soon, however, Agrippina begins interfering, telling Nero she doesn't like Poppea and probably to stand up straight or he'll turn into a hunchback, so he decides to kill her too.

Enrico Guazzoni's short film looks most remarkable for the set design and costuming, which is impressive for the era. It was about the time that Italian movie-makers would begin to produce feature films -- Guazzoni directed one the same year, and two years later would turn out Quo Vadis, His career as director would last another 30 years and spectacles would be his stock in trade.

The acting is formalized, with everyone making big gestures: imperious behavior for Imperial Rome, I suppose.

And now to take a look at some of the movies from the new LoC site, as alerted by Bruce.

Jamestown Exposition (1907): A camera pans across a crowd standing attentively at a fairground setting. They sway back and forth as individuals move, trying to find a better spot. There's a cut to a different spot, then another cut and suddenly there's a man speaking. It's the President, Teddy Roosevelt. Some men take off their hats and ladies' handkerchiefs are waved. It's a great day.

George Washington "Billy" Bitzer may be remembered as D.W. Griffith's cameraman, but he was an accomplished cinematographer; his earliest films were released in 1896. Here, a year before Griffith showed up, he demonstrates that he knows where to place a camera, block a scene and build an emotional effect. That ability would serve Griffith well and help make the cameraman one of the great artists of the field.

The Forbidden City, Pekin (1901): It's a circular pan of the Forbidden City, the central palace district of what's now called Beijing. It's shot by Raymond Ackerman (C.Fred Ackerman in some accounts), who did his stuff for American Mutoscope & Biograph in Phillipines during the Spanish-American War and later in China.

Most of the actualities of the period were reenactments, sometimes fanciful ones; sea battles fought in a bath tub, land battles on a field in New Jersey. With Ackerman's work, however, the audience got the real thing, the real people. Little is known of him. He sent films back to New York, they were released from 1899 through 1901... and then he vanished from the records.

Skirmish Between Russian and Japanese Advance Guards (1904): It says in the titles that's it's on the Yalu River, but actually this actuality was shot in New Jersey and that River is probably the Passaic. The film companies had been offering battle footage since the Spanish-American and Boer Wars, always shot in New Jersey. Edwin S. Porter may have been a great and inventive director, but there was no way he was going to take a ship to the Far East for authentic battle footage, when his audience couldn't tell a Mauser rifle from a javelin. The war probably wouldn't last that much longer, anyway. Russia was sending a fleet to Japan, and if they hadn't surrendered before then, they would probably sink a couple of the islands in their fury.

As history tells us, when the Russian fleet got there, the Japanese sank them, triggering off mutinies and a move towards representative democracy.... squelched as soon as possible. It was the greatest naval upset since... 1898, when the modern American fleet entered Manilla Bay and discovered that many of Spain's vaunted battleships were older than Old Ironsides.

For those of you who don't want to bother looking at the film, it consists of the Japanese encampment, where the soldiers are exercising beneath their flag. The Russians attack, take the camp and then are driven off. No one seems to be shot. After all, this is a war between civilized nations.

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

Unread post by greta de groat » Wed Sep 26, 2018 9:24 pm

boblipton wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:18 pm
Here's another film that involves people in masks:L'Amazzone Mascherata aka The Masked Amazon (1914): Alberto Collo is charged with compiling a survey of his country's cavalry positions. Emilio Ghione feeds him some knockout drops and steals the documents. He sells them to his nation (in the German print called 'Silistria'; war was still four months away and Bulgarian cities made a suitable substitute). Collo is found guilty of treason. When his wife finds Ghione's monogrammed cufflinks, she works out who the villain is. Using her 'Amazonian' riding abilities, she joins a traveling circus as 'The Masked Amazon', encounters Ghione and forces him to give her his correspondence about the espionage.

It's a rather simple and straightforward story, with a silly denouement, but it is well shot by Giorgio Ricci (the copy I saw was tinted) and the actors are very good in their performances. At an hour's length it's as good a spy feature as you're likely to find for its year.

Bob
Oooh, you didn't mention that it stars the diva Francesca Bertini! Always a wearer of expressive hats, in the first couple of minutes she manages to sport one that looks like a tom cat about to spray. I definitely have to find an hour to watch the rest of this.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:16 am

There's little doubt that I miss the occasional detail that is important to my readers (I wrote that in the singular at first, then changed it to them plural -- it's early in the morning and I'm still hopeful). Because so many women's hats strike me as weird, noticing the occasional extra-weird one seems to be beyond me. Fortunately, I have my reader (feeling a bit down at the thought) to catch any of the important details I omit from my brief descriptions.

Native Woman Washing a Negro Baby in Nassau, B.I. (1903): That's what this movie is: 80 seconds of a woman scrubbing a child in a washtub, then a pan to the left to show other children. It's nicely composed and shot and it's in focus. I am left with the question of why.

Not why the woman washed the child. I'm left with the question of why the unnamed cameraman chose to film this (testing out a new camera? Some one said "This would make a good movie, and him too polite to say no?). Why did Edison add this to the catalogue? (Not much else new for people to buy, so why not?) and how many copies of the movie they sold. I would guess they sold some. Some people thought it might be an interesting study in form and movement. Some people had weird kinks. Some people filled out the order wrong.

It's not the first time I've asked that question about a movie. Why, sometimes I will ask myself in the middle of a flick I'm paying to see. Sometimes I walk out. Maybe that's the point of this movie: a "chaser" to get people to leave the show, so they can sell more tickets.


On a Good Old 5-Cent Trolley Ride (1905): Passengers gradually fill a trolley as it rocks its bumpy way along. Many of them carry things: bundles of laundry, a goose, a basket of eggs, and another basket full of snakes that get loose, sending everyone fleeing.

Porter shot this one-reel comedy for Edison, using already accepted methods. The set is clearly mounted on rockers, and the chase at the end uses several cuts for the course of the run, all with a straightforward use of linear time for the action. In the four years since James Williamson had released Stop Thief!, the comic chase had grown from a brief comic movie of its own to part of the growing cinematic vocabulary, with a set grammar.

The movie is based on a popular song of the era, with the first few bars of music and the words appearing at the beginning. There another movie format, the sing-along, that would reach its height in the 1930s with the Fleischer 'Bouncing Ball' cartoons.

Poor John (1907):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwR6bJYuxC8

The compere steps into center stage and introduced Vesta Victoria. She proceeds to perform -- soundlessly -- the comic title song.

Was this a test for sound films, intended to compete with the French and German shorts that using synchronized sound at the time? I can see this playing along with a recording of the song -- presumably an Edison wax cylinder. In any case, nothing case of it for the moment. The European films lasted until 1910, and it would not be until 1913 that Edison produced a series of films with synchronized sound, using a system the company called the Kinetophone. Then silence until the 1920s, except, of course, for the musical accompaniment that was standard for movie house performances.

Miss Victoria appeared in a couple of sound films in the 1930s and lived until 1951.

Crossing Ice Bridge at Niagara Falls (1904): The picture begins with a shot of the Horseshoe Falls, then pans south, past the American Falls, and onward. It pauses occasionally to show groups of people tramping across the the frozen river. Eventually the circular pan takes the camera's eye back to the falls. The movie ends with the roaring American Falls center stage,

This movie is credited to Porter as director, but I strongly suspect he wasn't involved, beyond sending the cameramen and equipment north and approving which of the takes was printed for viewing. By this time, circular pans had become standard shots for the movies.

Bob
Life's too short to sit on our rears watching other people's work.
— Bob Fells

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

Unread post by tguinan » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:04 am

boblipton wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:16 am
There's little doubt that I miss the occasional detail that is important to my readers (I wrote that in the singular at first, then changed it to them plural -- it's early in the morning and I'm still hopeful). Because so many women's hats strike me as weird, noticing the occasional extra-weird one seems to be beyond me. Fortunately, I have my reader (feeling a bit down at the thought) to catch any of the important details I omit from my brief descriptions.

Native Woman Washing a Negro Baby in Nassau, B.I. (1903): That's what this movie is: 80 seconds of a woman scrubbing a child in a washtub, then a pan to the left to show other children. It's nicely composed and shot and it's in focus. I am left with the question of why.

Not why the woman washed the child. I'm left with the question of why the unnamed cameraman chose to film this (testing out a new camera? Some one said "This would make a good movie, and him too polite to say no?). Why did Edison add this to the catalogue? (Not much else new for people to buy, so why not?) and how many copies of the movie they sold. I would guess they sold some. Some people thought it might be an interesting study in form and movement. Some people had weird kinks. Some people filled out the order wrong.

It's not the first time I've asked that question about a movie. Why, sometimes I will ask myself in the middle of a flick I'm paying to see. Sometimes I walk out. Maybe that's the point of this movie: a "chaser" to get people to leave the show, so they can sell more tickets.
Bob, You might as well ask why film someone sneezing, or kissing? Both are very famous films, yet one today wonders "why"? Movies were new back then. We live in a totally different world than they did. Unless you were wealthy you didn't travel around the world. It was very common back then and even up into the 70's for people who did travel to take pictures, slides and later movies and then show them at gatherings at the local library or church and talk about their trips. I attended a few myself. People of that era were curious about the world. Back in 1903 movies were just coming out and anything and everything was being filmed. Yes they might have had a photo in the National Geographic of the same woman giving a bath to a child, but put it on film and it's like you weere suddenly there seeing it for yourself.

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

Unread post by FrankFay » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:19 am

As to the baby washing, there were tasteless old jokes about the "does the color wash off?"
Eric Stott

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

Unread post by boblipton » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:29 am

FrankFay wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:19 am
As to the baby washing, there were tasteless old jokes about the "does the color wash off?"

Clunk! That’s it. It was the specification of it happening in Nassau that distracted me.

It’s still a chaser so far as I’m concerned.

Bob
Life's too short to sit on our rears watching other people's work.
— Bob Fells

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

Unread post by FrankFay » Thu Sep 27, 2018 12:19 pm

boblipton wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:29 am
FrankFay wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:19 am
As to the baby washing, there were tasteless old jokes about the "does the color wash off?"

Clunk! That’s it. It was the specification of it happening in Nassau that distracted me.

It’s still a chaser so far as I’m concerned.

Bob
On watching it I noticed that the child is a bit old to be called a baby, and it is very clearly a boy.
Eric Stott

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

Unread post by boblipton » Thu Sep 27, 2018 5:34 pm

Some more movies from the new LoC site.

Launch of Surf Boat (1897) A large row boat crewed by half a dozen men sets out from the shore into the surf.

It's a one-minute short shot by the usually inept James H. White with Frederick Blechynden, his frequent cameraman. Apparently it is a Coast Guard boat, meant as part of their rescue service. The boat starts on the left-hand side of the frame and puts out, then the camera moves with a jerk and it's centered.

The only outside information I can locate about Mr. Blechynden is that his name is on the Australian War Memorial site.If it is he, he was a private in the Australian 11th Infantry, killed in action in France France on 16 April 1917.

Launch US Battleship "Kentucky" (1898): The Kentucky slides down the ways, hits the water, and glides out of frame on the left, flags and crew members waving.

It's a dull picture by most standards, but it is well shot by Fredererick Armitage, with some good movement. It also has some historical interest, as do many actualities of the era, in showing the viewer events that were ordinary in their day that have long since vanished. This capital ship is tiny by modern standards. As an occasional visitor to the 'Enterprise', now permanently docked on the North River by Manhattan.It is huge by comparison.

The current US Navy vessel to bear the name is a nuclear-powered, ballistic-missile carrying submarine, launched in 1991. Quite a change in less than a century!

Madison Square, New York (1903): Horse-drawn drays, early automobiles and trolley cars roll by as men walk about in this view of Madison Square.

It's within my walking neighborhood, so as I look at this picture, showing the enormous changes since this movie was shot, I try to identify the placement of the camera. It seems to have been shot from about 23rd Street on what is now the west side of Madison Square Park, facing westsouthwest, with the view towards The only landmark I can identify is the Western Union Building, a red-brick-faced building on the southwest corner. The famous Flatiron Building, the subject of other films, is not in sight.


'Columbia' and 'Shamrock II': Turning the Outer Stake Boat (1901): It's the America's Cup Race between the yacht backed by the New York Yacht Club and Sir Thomas Lipton's (no relation, alas) latest challenger; like all challenges until the Australians took it in 1983. The leading ship sails majestically from right to left, leaving only buoys in the water, then the second vessel comes onscreen and makes a tight turn.

I have no idea which is the 'Columbia' and which the 'Shamrock II'. However, both boats are yar compared to the sort of vessel seas around New York these days.

'Columbia Winning the Cup (1901): The 'Shamrock II' looks to be in the lead, but the 'Columbia' comes from behind and sails gracefully to victory, while Sir Thomas Lipton's latest challenger seems to wallow.

It was and remains a rich man's sport, as Tom Paxton noted in his song "The Day We Lost the America's Cup": "Why, some of those cats own slaves! Well, not in 1983, when the Cup finally went to the Australian challengers, and not in 1901, when this race was run. However, undoubtedly some of the New York Yacht Club's backers were old enough to have remembered when there was slavery -- and maybe some of them had.

Despite that, sailboats running on the water are beautiful things.

Bob
Life's too short to sit on our rears watching other people's work.
— Bob Fells

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

Unread post by oldposterho » Thu Sep 27, 2018 5:49 pm

Utterly unknown to me, 1919's Nerven (aka Nerves) is an astonishing film. Set in the days just after the war, it is pure Shakespearean tragedy via Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Edgar Allan Poe. Two families are inextricably embroiled with each other amid vast wealth, street riots, and hereditary madness, and the story is completely captivating. Director Robert Reinert leans more towards D.W. Griffith than Robert Wiene but there are flashes of brilliance in some of the act bumpers and Roloff's madness. There are clearly large chunks of the proletariat street battle scenes missing - which is odd considering part of the film was recovered in the Soviet Union - and the acting is more 1910 than 1920 but this one is really worth seeing and should be more well known. Although maybe it is and I just wasn't hep to it.

The kicker is that some industrious graduate student could make a serious case as the film being an influence on Dwain Esper's Maniac. I know, I know, but they could.

Seriously, check this one out.

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

Unread post by drednm » Fri Sep 28, 2018 5:29 am

Mabel and Fatty Viewing the World's Fair at San Francisco (1915) is really nothing more than the title implies. The only "bit of business" comes when Arbuckle tries to shut the lid of the iron maiden while Normand is inside. Otherwise we see them chattering away while the mayor drags them around the exposition. There's a funny bit when Arbuckle "warbles" for opera diva Ernestine Schumann-Heink, but most of the film just shows us the various sites with an inordinate amount of time spent on a slave ship (where the iron maiden is). More a newsreel than anything, but an interesting relic.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by boblipton » Fri Sep 28, 2018 6:55 am

Lots of actualities at the new LoC site.

Day at the Circus (1901): It's more like two and a half minutes. Against the backdrop of the big canvas tent of the Forepaugh and Sells Bros. combined four-ring circus (whee!), the big elephants, the fancy horses and the traveling calliope parade. Then we get to see some fancy riding.

At the start of the 20th Century, the biggest entertainment industry was the circus, and this short subject piggybacks off that premise. The movie itself holds a few bits of technical interest.

It is clearly two shorter movies stuck together. At this stage of film making, the length of a picture was determined by the amount of film the camera held and that was usually about a minute. Editing did not arise solely out of a desire to find an appropriate grammar for this budding art form; it was a necessity in order to make longer pictures when the subject demanded it or seemed interesting enough to hold the audience's attention. Sticking two lengths of film together led to a basic understanding of cinematic time, James Williamson in Great Britain already understood this. However, for several years, it was a straightforward progression. Then the idea of cross-cutting arose, borrowed from literary and stagecraft techniques.

At this point it's still at its basic stage. The circus parades, then later, after the cut, comes the fancy riding. Other techniques would wait.

Living Pictures (1903): The version of this movie that was released in 1903 and which now appears on the Library of Congress' National Screen Room site was originally issued as three separate movies in 1900. This clearly indicates something about the perception of the production companies and the presentation of movies: that the audience was interested in longer films. Or maybe in order to sell the reissued picture, the fact that you got what had originally been three movies was now available as one. Think of the extra value!

Or perhaps both. Looking at the 1903 version, we can see that Arthur Marvin has shot it as a series of tableaux vivantes. That had been a stage technique in which a group of people recreated a picture. In part, it was considered an artistic achievement. In part though, it was to show naked people on stage. In Great Britain the law held that nudity was outlawed on the stage, unless no one moved. This reflected the censor's attitude that the theater was a commercial transaction, while paintings were Art, and a lot of great paintings were of naked women.

It's a nice bit of editing as two young women dressed as pageboys open and shut curtains, revealing a series of pictures. At this time, such editing was achieved in the camera by masking off the lens, shooting one part of the scene, rerolling the film and then masking off the remainder of the lens. It was a minor achievement for the era by Arthur Marvin, one of the two cameramen who would serve D.W. Griffith early in his directorial career at Biograph. Eventually Griffith would achieve greater rapport with Billy Bitzer and Marvin would move to other Biograph directors, such as Frank Powell.

"Reliance" and "Shamrock III" jockeying and starting in first race (1903): Sir Thomas Lipton again tries to win back the Auld Mug, which he originally donated for what became known as the America's Cup. Here, at the start of the race, both ships.... well, the action is covered by the title.

It's clear that the seas are rough: not only are the boats heeled over, but the camera bobs up and down (clearly shot from a boat on the water) and the cameraman has a hard time keeping the vessels in frame. All in all, not the best movie of a boat race ever filmed, but considering the public interest in this rich man's sport, it probably did well.

The cameraman is J.B. Smith. His curriculum vitae isn't very long, but one of his films, Skyscrapers of New York City, from the North River was used as stock footage of Manhattan for half a century.

Bob
Life's too short to sit on our rears watching other people's work.
— Bob Fells

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

Unread post by Jim Roots » Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:31 am

oldposterho wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 5:49 pm
Utterly unknown to me, 1919's Nerven (aka Nerves) is an astonishing film. Set in the days just after the war, it is pure Shakespearean tragedy via Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Edgar Allan Poe. Two families are inextricably embroiled with each other amid vast wealth, street riots, and hereditary madness, and the story is completely captivating. Director Robert Reinert leans more towards D.W. Griffith than Robert Wiene but there are flashes of brilliance in some of the act bumpers and Roloff's madness. There are clearly large chunks of the proletariat street battle scenes missing - which is odd considering part of the film was recovered in the Soviet Union - and the acting is more 1910 than 1920 but this one is really worth seeing and should be more well known. Although maybe it is and I just wasn't hep to it.

The kicker is that some industrious graduate student could make a serious case as the film being an influence on Dwain Esper's Maniac. I know, I know, but they could.

Seriously, check this one out.
I'd like to check it out, indeed, but you haven't told us where you got it.

Is it German?

Jim

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

Unread post by greta de groat » Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:24 am

Jim Roots wrote:
Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:31 am
oldposterho wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 5:49 pm
Utterly unknown to me, 1919's Nerven (aka Nerves) is an astonishing film. Set in the days just after the war, it is pure Shakespearean tragedy via Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Edgar Allan Poe. Two families are inextricably embroiled with each other amid vast wealth, street riots, and hereditary madness, and the story is completely captivating. Director Robert Reinert leans more towards D.W. Griffith than Robert Wiene but there are flashes of brilliance in some of the act bumpers and Roloff's madness. There are clearly large chunks of the proletariat street battle scenes missing - which is odd considering part of the film was recovered in the Soviet Union - and the acting is more 1910 than 1920 but this one is really worth seeing and should be more well known. Although maybe it is and I just wasn't hep to it.

The kicker is that some industrious graduate student could make a serious case as the film being an influence on Dwain Esper's Maniac. I know, I know, but they could.

Seriously, check this one out.
I'd like to check it out, indeed, but you haven't told us where you got it.

Is it German?

Jim
Yes, it's German, i saw the one put out by Edtion Filmmuseum. There are a couple of threads that talk about it:
https://www.nitrateville.com/viewtopic.php?t=2472
https://www.nitrateville.com/viewtopic.php?t=9170
I thought it was fun, though that was probably not the desired effect. It was more interesting than i thought it was going to be.

Wasn't the title spelled out in bodies or something?

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


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