Best Movie of 1915?

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
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CJBx7
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Re: Best Movie of 1915?

Unread post by CJBx7 » Thu Mar 19, 2015 11:55 am

I still need to see a lot of these films. My personal favorites from this year, though, are Regeneration and The Italian. I like the realism of Regeneration very much, as well as the warmth and expressiveness of The Italian. Carmen was good too, mostly for the dynamite performance of Geraldine Farrar and her chemistry with Wallace Reid.

BOAN often gets listed as the first quality American feature film on websites, which isn't the case, but I believe it was the first true American epic feature film, and the first blockbuster success. I do admire several aspects of the film, particularly where Griffith poignantly shows the human cost of war in the first half, and the realistic interaction of the familes. I like Miriam Cooper's performance here the best; she's just stunningly natural in her performance, soulful, unaffected and hauntingly beautiful. I think her performance is beyond time, still fresh and moving. On occasion I've watched clips where Cooper appears, but I can't watch the whole film again for the same reasons that other people have. I won't deny its importance though.

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Spiny Norman
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Re: Best Movie of 1915?

Unread post by Spiny Norman » Thu Mar 19, 2015 3:16 pm

If Filibus wasn't the best film of 1915, it was certainly one with very good posters:

Image

Image
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Nosferatu
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Re: Best Movie of 1915?

Unread post by Nosferatu » Fri Mar 20, 2015 5:36 am

Mike Gebert wrote: Anyway, my first choice would be Maurice Tourneur's Alias Jimmy Valentine, which I have on laserdisc and was out on DVD in the long-out-of-print Origins of Film set from the Smithsonian. It's a stage melodrama about a safecracker who goes straight, with a crackerjack ending, and Robert Warwick— a familiar 40s character actor who at this point is young and as handsome as George O'Brien— plays it for all it's worth, but Tourneur also makes it cinematically effective through his use of composition and lighting. Here's a little visual essay somebody put on YouTube:



Unfortunately this doesn't show the most strikingly abstract moment of the film, in which Tourneur shows the layout of a crime scene from above as if it were a blueprint, so you can see exactly how the crime takes place, the sort of thing you might have found innovative in a crime movie like Rififi 40 years later. It's also, in its own way, oddly reflective of the matter of factness and abstraction of crime in one of 1915's other most celebrated titles— Les Vampires.

I'm not sure how legal this site is, but I actually obtained this movie from this website some time ago and I really enjoyed it. To anyone interested, don't be put off by the short length of the feature:
http://allcluesnosolutions.com/index.php?productID=1389" target="_blank" target="_blank

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JLNeibaur
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Re: Best Movie of 1915?

Unread post by JLNeibaur » Mon Mar 23, 2015 11:47 am

Here is my writeup on Birth of a Nation

https://www.cineaste.com/articles/embirth-of-a-nationem" target="_blank

It is the best movie of 1915

JN

Tastypotpie
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Re: Best Movie of 1915?

Unread post by Tastypotpie » Mon Mar 23, 2015 12:04 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:If Filibus wasn't the best film of 1915, it was certainly one with very good posters:
I'd just like to say, I love this movie. Filibus is pretty much a female Phantomas...but Filibus is a way, WAY better film.
It's absolutely nuts! Go watch it if ya haven't seen it!

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boblipton
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Re: Best Movie of 1915?

Unread post by boblipton » Mon Mar 23, 2015 1:20 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:If Filibus wasn't the best film of 1915, it was certainly one with very good posters:

Image

Image
Love the submarine hanging from the balloon. Funniest thing since someone in a Feuillade film had to mail a letter so they took a balloon to the post box. Is this serial available any place.

Bob
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entredeuxguerres
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Re: Best Movie of 1915?

Unread post by entredeuxguerres » Mon Mar 23, 2015 2:26 pm

boblipton wrote:Love the submarine hanging from the balloon....
Bob
That's nice, too, but what I love is the lesbian hanging from the submarine. Go, Butch, go!

http://butch-in-progress.tumblr.com/pos ... 15-filibus" target="_blank" target="_blank

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boblipton
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Re: Best Movie of 1915?

Unread post by boblipton » Mon Mar 23, 2015 3:00 pm

Hot Dang! It also shows up easily enough by going to Youtube, where I am more practiced with the size adjustment controls and typing "Filibus Silent". I wish the titles were clearer.

Bob
Look into the pewter pot
To see the world as the world's not.

-- A.E. Housman

earlytalkiebuffRob
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Re: Best Movie of 1915?

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Thu Aug 31, 2017 1:28 am

Christopher Jacobs wrote: ...although I've got THE GOLDEN CHANCE as my number one title from 1915, I'll put in a strong plug for YOUNG ROMANCE, a highly entertaining rom-com with a touch of melodrama smoothly directed by George Melford from a William C. DeMille play, with delightful and generally underplayed performances and some striking camera effects. Amazingly, it was a January release, having been shot in late 1914, whereas THE GOLDEN CHANCE is certainly Cecil B. DeMille's most polished of his dozen or so 1915 productions but was also his last one of the year, with screenings in late December but not going into general release until January 1916.

The Golden Chance
Young Romance
Regeneration
The Italian
The Children of Eve
The Birth of a Nation
Carmen
The Cheat
A Fool There Was
The Coward


Kindling
On the Night Stage
Alias Jimmy Valentine
The Fairy and the Waif
The Second in Command
The Cub
The Moonstone
The Stolen Voice
The Disciple
Old Heidelberg


Other interesting 1915 productions (in alphabetical order)...

Alice in Wonderland
The Captive
The Case of Becky
Chimmie Fadden Out West
The Darkening Trail
Enoch Arden
The Girl of the Golden West
How Molly Malone Made Good
The Hypocrites
The Lamb
Madame Butterfly
The Magic Skin
The Martyrs of the Alamo
A Submarine Pirate
Trilby
Les Vampires
The Warrens of Virginia
The Whirl of Life
Watching YOUNG ROMANCE the other night, I would heartily agree with its inclusion in the list. Although not 'important' in one sense, it was a thoroughly delightful and well-made entertainment which was a very worthwhile discovery.

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Red Bartlett
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Re: Best Movie of 1915?

Unread post by Red Bartlett » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:47 am

Big Silent Fan wrote:
drednm wrote:The Birth of a Nation hands down.
Agreed.
This fictional story about friendship and romance, caught up in a nation at war certainly is much more than a terrible racist film.

It begins by saying Slavery in America (originally everywhere) planted the first seed of disunion. The beginning of the story establishes that 'Union' is more important than 'State's Rights.' Next comes the Union Victory as it celebrates Lee's surrender...the end of State's Rights. I'm always puzzled when others claim this film was about the Southerner's perspective?
Griffith's film shows how Lincoln hoped reconstruction would bring the nation back together as brothers, and then recreated Lincoln's assassination at Ford's Theatre.

The racist part is based on fact.
Democracy in America was put on hold for a dozen years when Republicans "wrought a veritable overthrow of civilization in the South in their determination to 'put the white South under the heel of the Black South.'"
They divided the South into Five Military Districts, installing mostly Black leadership while preventing Black men in the North from voting. Only Blacks in the five Military Districts down South were permitted to vote and they did, under the careful guidance of the Republicans. Later, when it was discovered the majority of White voters had not voted for President Grant, Congress quickly passed the suffrage amendment to the Constitution providing Black men throughout the country the right to vote and insuring continued domination in Government by the Republicians.

Yes it's a racist film but the time it represents was even more racist.
To me, a lot of the modern-day reaction to BoaN is as flagrantly flamboyant as a lot of the arm-waiving acting of that period was. So many great films depict and glorify abhorrent people, mindsets and all the rest -- and rarely do people who love film feel the need to perform a southern-belle fainting routine. I'm certainly wise to our societal sensitivity on the subject and the notion that if one doesn't gesture in protest, then somebody might think one actually agrees with it -- which is utterly preposterous.

The (excellent) BFI blu-ray includes a painful little round-table discussion along these lines, which exhibits how nonintellectual intellectualism can sometimes become -- and how it can dangerously creep right back over the line it portends to abhor.

While I haven't seen enough films from 1915 to even pretend to weigh in on the topic, I do feel comfortable in saying BoaN -- regardless of its subject matter -- is an incredible film. And it's one I enjoy watching. Preposterous, isn't it!?

R Michael Pyle
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Re: Best Movie of 1915?

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:03 pm

Red Bartlett wrote: While I haven't seen enough films from 1915 to even pretend to weigh in on the topic, I do feel comfortable in saying BoaN -- regardless of its subject matter -- is an incredible film. And it's one I enjoy watching. Preposterous, isn't it!?
No.

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Saint-Just
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Re: Best Movie of 1915?

Unread post by Saint-Just » Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:13 pm

BOAN is overrated, noxious tripe - there are better acted, directed, and edited films from this year, and Griffith is surely the most overrated director of the era. The scene with Walthall and Lillian and the dove is lovely, the silhouette of the klan riding on the hillside is still being copied to this day - the rest is basically a total loss. And that's not even to address it's egregious lack of a true historical basis - it's fantasy of the 'wronged south' variety. I've frankly had more than enough of the historical revisionism of the film itself and of Griffith as some master super director - he was well passed by even before BOAN and his players, under his direction, gave generally stagey and overly affected portrayals. Enough said.

R Michael Pyle
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Re: Best Movie of 1915?

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Sat Sep 02, 2017 7:02 am

Saint-Just wrote:BOAN is overrated, noxious tripe - there are better acted, directed, and edited films from this year, and Griffith is surely the most overrated director of the era. The scene with Walthall and Lillian and the dove is lovely, the silhouette of the klan riding on the hillside is still being copied to this day - the rest is basically a total loss. And that's not even to address it's egregious lack of a true historical basis - it's fantasy of the 'wronged south' variety. I've frankly had more than enough of the historical revisionism of the film itself and of Griffith as some master super director - he was well passed by even before BOAN and his players, under his direction, gave generally stagey and overly affected portrayals. Enough said.
Why don't you just say what you mean? Let it out...let it all hang out...(signed, Sir Percy Blakeney)

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Red Bartlett
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Re: Best Movie of 1915?

Unread post by Red Bartlett » Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:49 am

Saint-Just wrote:BOAN is overrated, noxious tripe - there are better acted, directed, and edited films from this year, and Griffith is surely the most overrated director of the era. The scene with Walthall and Lillian and the dove is lovely, the silhouette of the klan riding on the hillside is still being copied to this day - the rest is basically a total loss. And that's not even to address it's egregious lack of a true historical basis - it's fantasy of the 'wronged south' variety. I've frankly had more than enough of the historical revisionism of the film itself and of Griffith as some master super director - he was well passed by even before BOAN and his players, under his direction, gave generally stagey and overly affected portrayals. Enough said.
Lol! Do you seriously believe that or are you just having a bad day? It's fine either way but, speaking of revisionism, I don't believe that that opinion is an historically accurate view either. At best, it seems like there are some films that show some similar advances but no one film comes close to the bredth and epic scale of Birth of a Nation.

As I was saying, people love to hate (or have a hard time liking) this film for the obvious reason of its subject matter. It's unfortunate that the first epic masterpiece of film functions as a warped propaganda piece -- but so were many of the propaganda films coming out of communist Russia a decade later. I just have a sense that people are hung up on the wrong things sometimes.

agantuk
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Re: Best Movie of 1915?

Unread post by agantuk » Mon Jul 02, 2018 3:18 pm

Certainly NOT Carmen (the Lubitsch film is much better), certainly NOT The Italian (a regressive use of close-up for "facial" effects starring an actor specially employed because he was famous for such "facials"!) and certainly NOT Birth of Nation which was (and sadly is) important to USians for (dubious) sentimental and historical reasons and (even more dubious) modern critical ones (the false US-centred view of cinema - history rewritten) but is not really an especially wonderful film in any respect whatever. US parochialism is extraordinary. Someone, claiming to have seen forty films from the year, gives a list that, apart from The Vampires, includes not a single non-US film!!! Quite an impressive feat of blinkered film-watching. People wept in the theatres at Birth of a Nation (the blacks wept outside) but so they did for Ince's The Battle of Gettysburg, the first full-length US national epic, two years before and so did Prime Minister Louis Botha at the premiere of another not dissimilar racist "national" epic, De Voortrekkers, made by Harold M. Shaw in South Africa in 1916. No doubt it would have won an academy award if they had existed but that is only because the Academy Awards were, and largely still are, simply in-house pats-on-the-back not international awards. The majority of surviving US full-length films from 1914 are westerns, the most distinctive but also the most parochial of films genres. The US film of most international importance and enduring influence made in 1915 was without any doubt DeMille's The Cheat, which, along with Alias Jimmy Valentine and Regeneration, is, in my view, one of the best US films of the year and one of the best films that DeMille personally ever made before he started playing constantly to the gallery. It was this film that effectively put the US on the map internationally as a film-producer, rather than just as a film-market, for the first time.

But the best films of the year for me are The Vampires (still irresistible) and Bauer's After Death. Also Pastrone's il fuoco if this can count as 1915. It was finished in 1915 but delayed by censorship problems, so not actually premièred till 1916. Like Cabiria, the 1014 film that really revolutionised cinema, it is the work of Pastrone and De Chomón and is a film of a sophistication, stylistically and technically, of which Griffith could only dream. Also Mauritz Stiller's Hämnaren which is not at all the anti-Jewish film that some (presumably non-Jews) seem to think but is a remarkably clever reworking by Stiller, Jørgensen and Levy - Stiller and Levy were themselves both Ashkenazim - in modern dress and in an entirely typical modern cinema-story of the theme (but not the story) of Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. Then the three US films (The Cheat, Alias Jimmy Valentine and Regeneration). But I would put in a word too for Alfred Lind's Il jockey della morte and a slightly more muted word for Chardynin's Woman of Tomorrrow and I only wish we had the whole of Febo Mari's L'Emigrante....

But we are talking 1915 here and films are still emerging from the woodwork all the time. I haven't seen Perret's Une page de gloire yet (much gnashing of teeth) and the best film of the year may be the next one you watch......

I think I shall go away now and watch Pasionara just in case.....

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