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

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

Unread post by IA » Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:07 pm

Der Hund von Baskerville (1929)

[Viewed at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival]

This is the best-directed version of the Hound of the Baskervilles, though to be honest no great directors have ever tackled the story. Der Hund von Baskerville also has the honor of being the last silent Sherlock Holmes film. The format didn't really suit the Holmes stories, which rely heavily on dialogue and exposition. To avoid excessive intertitles, silent adaptations had to simplify the material and stress action over cerebration (the walking stick deduction scene is naturally absent in this version).

But Der Hund is unique in going whole hog for a German gothic/expressionist proto-noir style. Baskerville Hall becomes an old dark house, like the ones in The Bat or The Cat and the Canary, with shadows galore, eyes peeping out of statues, trap doors, and hidden rooms sealed at the push of the button. And since this is a late silent, we're treated to voluptuous camera movement and eccentrically creative camera angles.

Carlyle Blackwell, an American matinee idol back in 1914, was imported to play Sherlock Holmes, here introduced as "the genial detective." Fortunately Blackwell's confident performance is not entirely genial, though he does play up the smugly amused side of Holmes's character. Russian George Seroff plays a puppyish, plump, clean-shaven Watson. The character was often a non-entity in silent Holmes movies, but here he plays a major role, albeit a comical one (his gullibility prompts a light smack upside the head from Holmes). Stapleton is played by Fritz Rasp, that great gonzo gargoyle of German cinema.

For decades Der Hund was thought lost, until a print turned up Poland. Sadly the film is missing several expository scenes in reels two and three, which cover Watson's investigations of suspects at Baskerville Hall. These are compensated for by beautifully-rendered illustrated titles, but their absence still leaves the whodunit mystery shortened and the overall story lopsided.

Der Hund is a mostly faithful adaptation of Doyle, and even shares strategies with later versions. Like the 1968 BBC production with Peter Cushing, it starts with the suspects gathered at Baskerville Hall. As in the Hammer version, Holmes gets trapped in an underground passage. And Laura Lyons has the same fate as in the 1982 TV film starring Ian Richardson.

Low budgets are the bane of many screen Hounds, but not this one. Baskerville Hall is opulently furnished and the moor outside, though created in a disused hangar, is a convincing wasteland of scraggly scrub. The hound is played by a mottled Great Dane, usually shown in extreme close-up (perhaps to make it look more imposing!). The film is set in 1929, so a motorcar pulls up to Baker Street, and Holmes wears a stylish leather trench coat alongside his deerstalker.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:24 pm

What's the condition of the print?

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

Unread post by IA » Tue Jun 05, 2018 11:26 pm

boblipton wrote:What's the condition of the print?
Mostly excellent. A few brief bits of evident decomposition but that's all. Some footage has been added from a 9.5 mm French print, and is noticeably inferior in visual quality, but not obtrusively so. It looked great and the SF Silent Film Festival did an excellent job with the restoration. I'm hoping it will follow in the footsteps of another Festival project, the Gillette Sherlock Holmes, and be released on Blu-Ray by Flicker Alley.

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

Unread post by drednm » Wed Jun 06, 2018 4:58 am

IA wrote:
boblipton wrote:What's the condition of the print?
Mostly excellent. A few brief bits of evident decomposition but that's all. Some footage has been added from a 9.5 mm French print, and is noticeably inferior in visual quality, but not obtrusively so. It looked great and the SF Silent Film Festival did an excellent job with the restoration. I'm hoping it will follow in the footsteps of another Festival project, the Gillette Sherlock Holmes, and be released on Blu-Ray by Flicker Alley.
This was also Carlyle Blackwell's final silent film. He had left the US after starring with Marion Davies in The Restless Sex (1920). His first British film was also the screen's first Bulldog Drummond in 1922. In 1926 he co-founded a production company in UK with Michael Balcon and the produced Alfred Hitchcock's The Lodger (1927). Blackwell made his talkie debut in a British short film and produced/directed/starred in the 1930 feature Beyond the Cities, his final film.

Hound also features British silent star Alma Taylor as Mrs. Barrymore.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:40 pm

For Heaven's Sake (1926) is not a great movie, by any means, but it certainly is a flawless soufflee. The print that TCM ran last Sunday was in fine shape and Robert Israel's big, lively score was a lot of fun, as usual.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Mon Jul 30, 2018 1:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Rodney » Wed Jun 06, 2018 9:56 pm

IA wrote:
boblipton wrote:What's the condition of the print?
Mostly excellent. A few brief bits of evident decomposition but that's all. Some footage has been added from a 9.5 mm French print, and is noticeably inferior in visual quality, but not obtrusively so. It looked great and the SF Silent Film Festival did an excellent job with the restoration. I'm hoping it will follow in the footsteps of another Festival project, the Gillette Sherlock Holmes, and be released on Blu-Ray by Flicker Alley.
9.5 mm is notable in that the sprocket hole is punched in the middle of the frame line, to leave the maximum size for image (making the picture close to the size of a 16mm frame, which wastes space on the sides for sprockets). In the 9.5 sections, the sprocket holes show up as white rectangles in the center of the image at the very top and bottom. But, after scanning, the restorers carefully filled those areas with black digitally, to make the sprocket holes mostly disappear unless you look for them.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:24 pm

Perhaps I should have watched THE ROARING ROAD (1919), before its sequel EXCUSE MY DUST (1920), but the deed is done. In this one, Wallace Reid plays a speed demon who is the bane of his wife's life as well as an irritant to pop-in-law Theodore Roberts. After one incident, Reid is banned from driving within the city precincts, and after another in which his baby is nearly killed, she leaves him until he can mend his ways.

The other part of the plot is the rivalry between that of Roberts and his rival's (Tully Marshall) auto company who are curious as to a new engine in the pipeline, this leading to a long-distance challenge. Other players include Walter Long as Marshall's henchman and future director Otto Brower in the first of just three acting parts, as Marshall's spy, and the director was Sam Wood.

A lively accompaniment, but just a moderately entertaining film, whose chief pleasure is in Roberts's hearty preformance as the hands-on boss.

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

Unread post by FrankFay » Fri Jun 08, 2018 7:48 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Perhaps I should have watched THE ROARING ROAD (1919), before its sequel EXCUSE MY DUST (1920), but the deed is done.

A lively accompaniment, but just a moderately entertaining film, whose chief pleasure is in Roberts's hearty preformance as the hands-on boss.
The sequel is SO much better. This film is half-serious, but EXCUSE MY DUST just aims to be entertaining
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by greta de groat » Sat Jun 09, 2018 4:50 pm

Another random film showing up on youTube's "up next" was The Whip (1917) directed by Maurice Tourneur. June Elvidge was the only cast member i recognized but on the strength of the director i checked it out. It's set amongst some horsey rich folks who have a temptermental racehorse. There is a plucky heroine who is a first rate rider and doesn't even faint. There is much scheming by a dastardly villain and his female accomplice who causes all sorts of mahem including wrecking a car, a train, seducing the jockey's sister, etc., for what purpose i couldn't discern. It's kind of dumb but reasonably entertaining. though to be fair the fact that it's a bit choppy and rushed suggests that it's probably cut down by quite a bit (the print on youtube is about 54 minutes, drop needle score, and English titles with French subtitles). As expected with Tourneur, photography excellent, and began and ended with a lovely shot of a train with a sunset.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Sat Jun 09, 2018 7:28 pm

Although Maurice Elvey's High Treason (1929) was originally issued in both sound and silent versions, for many years, only the silent version was known to survive. A few years ago, a copy of the abbreviated sound version, issued by Tiffany in the US was discovered and restored. However, it is still difficult to see, and so this review is based on the silent version.

The year is 1950 -- a popular year for science-fiction films in the 1920s -- and tensions are rising between the Federated States of Europe and the Atlantic States. A car carrying liquor breaks through a border guard and is shot down; the Atlantic States send an ultimatum to Europe, whose President, Basil Gill, wants war; although he is not implicated, arms manufacturers are shown bribing people. Only the World League of Peace, led by Humberstone Wright, and his daughter, Benita Hume, stand in the way of war. Miss Hume's boy friend is Jameson Thomas, an officer of Europe, ready to carry out his orders. Thus the conflict is not only a matter of the world and politics and money, but of love.

Visually, the movie is an Art Deco feast, pitched halfway between Metropolis and Things to Come (Raymond Massey, who starred in the latter, has a small but prominent role and can be clearly seen at about the 30-minute mark). Clothes follows the sleek design, with a lot of shiny fabric and hats midway between cloches and skullcaps. Neither does Elvey neglect the touches, with autogyros and biplanes flying about London, television broadcasts, sliding doors and the other paraphernalia beloved of screen sf. Percy Strong's camerawork is limber, with many a tracking shot to focus the audience's attention, and a couple of moving crane shots, British film-making may have long been considered a backwater of the industry, but British Gaumont had the resources and will to make this spectacular.

The weaknesses of this movie are twofold. First, it is very talky for a silent picture, with a lot of title cards of dialogue, doubtless reproducing speech in the sound version. Second is the rather clunky utopianism of the plot, reducing the issues of politics and economics in a theoretical world to melodrama, where singing a song can stop a military action, and national leaders can be isolated from their guards. In my rather cynical view, Realpolitik guides the powerful, who are isolated and protected from the consequences of their follies.

Still, that's no way to make popular entertainment now, and was less so in 1929; and while this movies shows flaws that an examination of the sound version might more fully explain, it remains visually quite beautiful, with the lovely 23-year-old Miss Hume a high point.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Sun Jun 10, 2018 12:34 pm

greta de groat wrote:Another random film showing up on youTube's "up next" was The Whip (1917) directed by Maurice Tourneur. June Elvidge was the only cast member i recognized but on the strength of the director i checked it out. It's set amongst some horsey rich folks who have a temptermental racehorse. There is a plucky heroine who is a first rate rider and doesn't even faint. There is much scheming by a dastardly villain and his female accomplice who causes all sorts of mahem including wrecking a car, a train, seducing the jockey's sister, etc., for what purpose i couldn't discern. It's kind of dumb but reasonably entertaining. though to be fair the fact that it's a bit choppy and rushed suggests that it's probably cut down by quite a bit (the print on youtube is about 54 minutes, drop needle score, and English titles with French subtitles). As expected with Tourneur, photography excellent, and began and ended with a lovely shot of a train with a sunset.

greta
Thanks for the tip-off. I'd noticed THE WHIP before, but the title referring to its Drury Lane origins gave no indication it was by Tourneur. Having said that, a similar thing happened to Kevin Brownlow, who passed up on THE WISHING RING, before being alerted to the fact Tourneur had directed it...

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

Unread post by boblipton » Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:31 pm

Adrian Brunel's silent version of The Constant Nymph (1928) was last discussed here in 2015. I found it a lush, richly acted version of the story of how Ivor Novello, a rising young composer, marries Frances Doble, only to realize too late that she is not the wife for him; she is a staid and society-bound woman, who thinks it would wonderful to be the wife of a great composer, but who would keep him, in the words of the title cards, in a silver sty; he realizes he actually loves Mabel Poulton, the wild daughter of his deceased friend and fellow composer, Georg Henrich.

Gaumont-British spared no expense in shooting this movie, with location photography in the Tyolean Alps and impressive credits behind the camera -- not only avant-garde director Brunel, but Basil Dean and Alma Reville as screenplay writers. Novello is superb in his role, moving easily from comedy to tragedy in a way that reminded me of Fredric March a decade later. Poulton is also beautifully nuanced, and even Miss Doble performs her semi-villainous role with an air that made me sympathize with her.

What the beautifully tinted print I saw lacked, I realized, as I watched the final quarter hour, was a score. Perhaps there was one composed and played live in the major houses when this premiered ninety years ago. If so, I can find no record of it. For a movie about a symphonic composer -- two composers, actually -- to be presented with a piano or a drop-needle score is almost a burlesque. A movie like this requires a major score, and watching it without one is like watching a ghost; no matter how used to battered prints and poor presentation a longtime fan of silent movies may be, it eats away at the pleasure of watching what so obviously was a great movie to see it presented without the score it requires.

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:33 pm

boblipton wrote:Adrian Brunel's silent version of The Constant Nymph (1928) was last discussed here in 2015. I found it a lush, richly acted version of the story of how Ivor Novello, a rising young composer, marries Frances Doble, only to realize too late that she is not the wife for him; she is a staid and society-bound woman, who thinks it would wonderful to be the wife of a great composer, but who would keep him, in the words of the title cards, in a silver sty; he realizes he actually loves Mabel Poulton, the wild daughter of his deceased friend and fellow composer, Georg Henrich.

Gaumont-British spared no expense in shooting this movie, with location photography in the Tyolean Alps and impressive credits behind the camera -- not only avant-garde director Brunel, but Basil Dean and Alma Reville as screenplay writers. Novello is superb in his role, moving easily from comedy to tragedy in a way that reminded me of Fredric March a decade later. Poulton is also beautifully nuanced, and even Miss Doble performs her semi-villainous role with an air that made me sympathize with her.

What the beautifully tinted print I saw lacked, I realized, as I watched the final quarter hour, was a score. Perhaps there was one composed and played live in the major houses when this premiered ninety years ago. If so, I can find no record of it. For a movie about a symphonic composer -- two composers, actually -- to be presented with a piano or a drop-needle score is almost a burlesque. A movie like this requires a major score, and watching it without one is like watching a ghost; no matter how used to battered prints and poor presentation a longtime fan of silent movies may be, it eats away at the pleasure of watching what so obviously was a great movie to see it presented without the score it requires.

Bob
The lack of music was why I held back on watching it last night. Any suggestions as to something suitable?

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

Unread post by boblipton » Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:38 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
boblipton wrote:Adrian Brunel's silent version of The Constant Nymph (1928) was last discussed here in 2015. I found it a lush, richly acted version of the story of how Ivor Novello, a rising young composer, marries Frances Doble, only to realize too late that she is not the wife for him; she is a staid and society-bound woman, who thinks it would wonderful to be the wife of a great composer, but who would keep him, in the words of the title cards, in a silver sty; he realizes he actually loves Mabel Poulton, the wild daughter of his deceased friend and fellow composer, Georg Henrich.

Gaumont-British spared no expense in shooting this movie, with location photography in the Tyolean Alps and impressive credits behind the camera -- not only avant-garde director Brunel, but Basil Dean and Alma Reville as screenplay writers. Novello is superb in his role, moving easily from comedy to tragedy in a way that reminded me of Fredric March a decade later. Poulton is also beautifully nuanced, and even Miss Doble performs her semi-villainous role with an air that made me sympathize with her.

What the beautifully tinted print I saw lacked, I realized, as I watched the final quarter hour, was a score. Perhaps there was one composed and played live in the major houses when this premiered ninety years ago. If so, I can find no record of it. For a movie about a symphonic composer -- two composers, actually -- to be presented with a piano or a drop-needle score is almost a burlesque. A movie like this requires a major score, and watching it without one is like watching a ghost; no matter how used to battered prints and poor presentation a longtime fan of silent movies may be, it eats away at the pleasure of watching what so obviously was a great movie to see it presented without the score it requires.

Bob
The lack of music was why I held back on watching it last night. Any suggestions as to something suitable?
I was wondering if Carl Davis was available.....

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

Unread post by Big Silent Fan » Mon Jun 11, 2018 8:15 pm

boblipton wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
boblipton wrote:Adrian Brunel's silent version of The Constant Nymph (1928).nuanced, and even Miss Doble performs her semi-villainous role with an air that made me sympathize with her.
The lack of music was why I held back on watching it last night. Any suggestions as to something suitable?
Much to my surprise, checking YouTube, I found music with the "Peliculas Mundas/silent film" from 1928, The Constand Nymph. Only had time to watch the credits with music, but perhaps the film quality is satisfactory.

When I returned to watch, the film went silent after just 13 minutes? What I did hear of the orchestra score wasn't very good anyway.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:57 am

Big Silent Fan wrote:
boblipton wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Adrian Brunel's silent version of The Constant Nymph (1928).nuanced, and even Miss Doble performs her semi-villainous role with an air that made me sympathize with her.
The lack of music was why I held back on watching it last night. Any suggestions as to something suitable
Much to my surprise, checking YouTube, I found music with the "Peliculas Mundas/silent film" from 1928, The Constand Nymph. Only had time to watch the credits with music, but perhaps the film quality is satisfactory.

When I returned to watch, the film went silent after just 13 minutes? What I did hear of the orchestra score wasn't very good anyway.
It came back on intermittently throughout the music, usually only for a few seconds.

In any case, I don't think a dropneedle score, no matter how filled with Beethoven it may be, is right. It calls for something original.

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

Unread post by Big Silent Fan » Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:17 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
boblipton wrote:Adrian Brunel's silent version of The Constant Nymph (1928) was last discussed here in 2015. I found it a lush, richly acted version of the story of how Ivor Novello, a rising young composer, marries Frances Doble, only to realize too late that she is not the wife for him; she is a staid and society-bound woman, who thinks it would wonderful to be the wife of a great composer, but who would keep him, in the words of the title cards, in a silver sty; he realizes he actually loves Mabel Poulton, the wild daughter of his deceased friend and fellow composer, Georg Henrich.
The lack of music was why I held back on watching it last night. Any suggestions as to something suitable?
I watched the 110 minute film today using my favorite all around score, the music from DeMille's "The Affairs of Anatol."
"Affairs of Anatol" is a worthwhile film itself, but the score, with it's constantly changing mood makes it useful for watching most any other film when the music is lacking. While it might miss the mark some times, more often than not, it really seems to fit. I'll be trying it next when I watch Monte Cristo (1922) with John Gilbert since it also has no sound.
In this case, everything seemed to be going well with the music until the Death of Sanger scene when the music unexpectedly turned cheerful.
Afraid the music might end before the film, I didn't fast forward, but at the end (when the music continued for nearly five minute longer), I realized it could have been skipped.
If you've got this film, give that music a try. "The Constant Nymph" is a difficult film to score concerning the varied images seen on the screen, everything from a man shaving, cows meandering around in the field, or a boring chamber music recital where everyone can't wait for it to end.

About the story.
I imagine Ivor Novello could have related to this character since he was more at home composing or playing music than he was, acting on the screen. The ending is very touching and a bit unexpected.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:01 pm

The Warrior Strain (1919): Sydney Wood is the son of a widowed earl, and pretty lonely. His father is a busy diplomat, his mother is dead, and his governess won't let him play outside the castle. It's a tough life, as I'm sure you'll agree, so he plays with his huge dogs and reads about the valiant deeds of his noble ancestors. When his father brings some German diplomats around, who secretly take pictures of the undefended coastline and insult him, he retaliates by knocking off their hats as they leave with a slingshot. Some cadets from the local school spot him doing this and befriend him, so he wheedles his father into letting him join the local school, where he naturally excels. When war is declared and the Germans sneakily invade the area where his cadets are patrolling....

This one is obviously meant for the kiddie matinee, and is just the sort of stuff that that would fill the pages of lesser magazines, especially now that P.G. Wodehouse had given up writing about the tribulations of playing cricket at public schools for the goings-on of the members of the Drones Club. It's short, patriotic, utterly normative and has a cameo by the Prince of Wales. Hip Hip Hooraw.

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

Unread post by Big Silent Fan » Wed Jun 13, 2018 3:31 pm

Had a look at the 105 minute, Montie Christo (1922) with a young John Gilbert and Estelle Taylor (with a brief appearance by Renee Adoree). It's a complete telling of the novel which is summarized at Wikipedia.

While there wasn't any sound, all the title cards and written letter images seen on the screen were very clear.

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

Unread post by Rodney » Wed Jun 13, 2018 3:47 pm

Big Silent Fan wrote:Had a look at the 105 minute, Montie Christo (1922) with a young John Gilbert and Estelle Taylor (with a brief appearance by Renee Adoree). It's a complete telling of the novel which is summarized at Wikipedia.

While there wasn't any sound, all the title cards and written letter images seen on the screen were very clear.
The version that's included on the Flicker Alley "Bardelys the Magnificent" DVD includes a nice piano score, which makes the movie more enjoyable.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:20 pm

And I just looked at A Modern Monte Cristo (1917)! Newly engaged Vincent Serrano is a young surgeon who tells his friends that he has been offered five thousand pounds if a rich old lady does not survive her operation. When she does not, he is arrested for murder. A year later, having escaped by faking his suicide, he reads that his old friend, Thomas A. Curran has married his ex-fiancee, and all is clear. He vows his vengeance. Ten years go by; Curran is a widower with Helen Badgley his daughter. He owns rotting hulks of merchant ships, overinsures them and sends them out to be destroyed. Serrano is a deckhand. Miss Badgley falls into a hold, whence she is rescued and tended by Serrano. A storm wrecks the ship, but the two of them make it to an island, where Serrano finds many valuable pearls. When they are rescued, Miss Badgley is returned to her father, while Serrano becomes.... well, guess from the title.

It's a well-produced melodrama from Thanhouser's last year of existence, with their typically fine production values and fixed camera. The print I saw is nicely and variously tinted. Lloyd Lonergan, Edward Thanhouser's brother-in-law and house writer has a fine time converting Dumas' sprawling novel into 56 minutes -- although there are a couple of obvious plot holes: how did Serrano fake his suicide while in custody? How did he get off that island?

The big problem with this movie is Serrano. The man was a seasoned actor, in his early 50s when he made this movie. He had made it to Broadway in 1900, and would continue to act there until 1928. He made eight other features from 1915 through 1920, albeit usually in supporting roles. Yet he doesn't act in this movie, from the beginning, when he is a man about to be married, relaxing with his friends, to the end, when his stony heart melts.

Was Serrano a poor actor? Did director Eugene Moore tell him the camera picks up every emotion, so he needed to hold it down, and he overdid it? Was he a "real" actor who only did movies because they offered huge sums of money for tripe? Well, at least Helen Badgley is good.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:32 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:HIS OWN LAW (1920) starts quite promisingly in San Francisco with drunken bum Hobart Bosworth striking up a friendship with French immigrant Rowland V Lee (yes, the same). After adventures with a stray puppy and in a flophouse ('clean beds' 20c) it emerges that Bosworth is head of an engineering company and just taking a breather!

The scene then switches to the company's latest project and the Frenchman in work as an engineer. Love enters in the shape of a young lady, but before Lee can marry her he has to report for war service. Believing him killed (in a surprisingly curt and callous telegram) Bosworth marries her as a child is on the way...

Perhaps because one has seen similar plots before, HIS OWN LAW seems to drag in places, and when (SPOILER) surprise, surprise, the fellow turns up, the solution to their problem is never really satisfactorily explained and is rather unconvincing. Bosworth's performance, however, is most engaging, which is more than can be said for Lee, although perhaps it was just the part which defeated him.

I just looked at this and am in substantial agreement with Earlytalkiebuffrob. It should be noted that Bosworth acts everyone else off the screen, both in the early drunk scenes, when he plays the character like Wallace Beery would, although without the calculated coyness, and in the final sequences, when he is rational and loving.

Why is it that virgins seem to conceive the first time they have sex?

Bob
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— Bob Fells

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

Unread post by wich2 » Thu Jun 14, 2018 11:35 am

Bosworth damn near steals the whole of Griffith's ABRAHAM LINCOLN, with his cameo as a haunted Robert E. Lee.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:19 pm

His New Mamma (1924) may have been the seventh short that Sennett released with Harry Langdon in it, but I believe it was shot earlier in their association. First, it has the construction of those Sennett two-reelers in which the first half takes place in one setting -- at home, where, according to the titles, Andy Clyde has just brought home Madeleine Hurlock to be Harry's new mother; after Madeleine vamps the son, the two men wrangle, and finally, Andy kicks Harry out -- and the second in another. In the second half, Harry is a taxi driver in sunny California, who drives the Sennett Bathing Beauties to the beach, where he runs into.... well, I'd tell you to guess, but you'd probably cheat and look it up.

What makes me think this was done early in Harry tenure at Sennett is that the idea of Miss Hurlock vamping Langdon, and his not seeming to have a clue as to what is going on is as pure a bit of Langdon as you can get. Yet there's none of it here. Instead, we get Harry doing a lot of standard Sennett stuff, and doing very well. Sennett's staff was adept, they knew how to write and shoot this stuff, the director was Roy Del Ruth, who would soon move on to greener pastures. Yet, confronted with a comic who was a once-a-decade find, and everyone knew it, they stuck him in a comedy that any of Sennett's staff could have led.

Perhaps that was the point. Perhaps Sennett said "Use Langdon in everything" and they did. If so, the result, while competent, is nothing special.

Bob
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 boblipton » Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:13 pm

On the Banks of Allan Water (1916) makes a story out of an Old Ballad I had never heard before. I immediately went and listened to it for forty seconds before growing weary of its slow story, typical of Ye Olde Ballade in which Young Sir Whosis has been poisoned by La Belle Dame Sans Merci, and instead of letting him vomit and die, mommy wants all the details and for him to rewrite his will so she gets Great-Uncle Herman's cottage by Lake Winnepissocki, which should have come to her, but it went to her b*tch of a sister, who left it to Whosis, just to spite her, just like her, and it's so selfish of you to be thinking of yourself and dying when you should be thinking of me. You're just like your father that way.

Anyway, in this story, J. Hastings Batson wants Basil Gill to marry Grania Gray, but Gill wants to go fishing in Scotland. There he meets Violet Graham, the miller's daughter, and eventually they get married secretly, because otherwise there would be no Dramatic Conflict. There was a lot of that going around the movie industry in this period -- there still is -- and ordinarily I wouldn't care. The camerawork is good, the acting is good, the story is ok, if standard, even if it falls into the already-antiquated "illustrated text" style of film making, in which most of the times the actors just do what the titles tell you they were going to do -- sometimes the titles tell you what the actors just did. There's a lot of outdoor shooting, and you get to see real, old buildings, and you can tell they're not sets. Beautiful.

Moving back a little, the problem is those titles. Sometimes they're lifted from the ballad, lines like "On the banks of the Allan Water, none is so sad as she." Then you see Miss Graham being sad. That's all right. However, at other times, the titles turn long-winded and clunkily expository, like "Feeling that Richard is incapable of such heartlessness, Elsie determines to go to Strathallan to see him." The inability to maintain a consistent auctorial voice in the titles is disconcerting.

It's still very early days for title-writing, an art that would not be seen as much more than a matter of utility until the 1920s. It's movies like this, which would have been great successes had such things been available, that showed their need.

Bob
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 drednm » Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:01 am

boblipton wrote:On the Banks of Allan Water (1916) makes a story out of an Old Ballad I had never heard before. I immediately went and listened to it for forty seconds before growing weary of its slow story, typical of Ye Olde Ballade in which Young Sir Whosis has been poisoned by La Belle Dame Sans Merci, and instead of letting him vomit and die, mommy wants all the details and for him to rewrite his will so she gets Great-Uncle Herman's cottage by Lake Winnepissocki, which should have come to her, but it went to her b*tch of a sister, who left it to Whosis, just to spite her, just like her, and it's so selfish of you to be thinking of yourself and dying when you should be thinking of me. You're just like your father that way.

Anyway, in this story, J. Hastings Batson wants Basil Gill to marry Grania Gray, but Gill wants to go fishing in Scotland. There he meets Violet Graham, the miller's daughter, and eventually they get married secretly, because otherwise there would be no Dramatic Conflict. There was a lot of that going around the movie industry in this period -- there still is -- and ordinarily I wouldn't care. The camerawork is good, the acting is good, the story is ok, if standard, even if it falls into the already-antiquated "illustrated text" style of film making, in which most of the times the actors just do what the titles tell you they were going to do -- sometimes the titles tell you what the actors just did. There's a lot of outdoor shooting, and you get to see real, old buildings, and you can tell they're not sets. Beautiful.

Moving back a little, the problem is those titles. Sometimes they're lifted from the ballad, lines like "On the banks of the Allan Water, none is so sad as she." Then you see Miss Graham being sad. That's all right. However, at other times, the titles turn long-winded and clunkily expository, like "Feeling that Richard is incapable of such heartlessness, Elsie determines to go to Strathallan to see him." The inability to maintain a consistent auctorial voice in the titles is disconcerting.

It's still very early days for title-writing, an art that would not be seen as much more than a matter of utility until the 1920s. It's movies like this, which would have been great successes had such things been available, that showed their need.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:26 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:THE LURE OF DRINK (1915) is a half-hour tract telling of a seamstress (Blanche Forsythe) who marries a reformed drunk (Roy Travers). Unfortunately for the pair, his old flame (Flash Kate, played by Maud Yates) decides to get her revenge by getting him back to his old ways. At first resisting, he succumbs after he has suffered a drenching during a fight with an old rival in love...

Despite perhaps being a touch overacted by Travers, and having a small dose of religion, this is an absorbing and vigorous variant on 'The Road to Ruin', with quite a lot of outdoor work and presented here in a nice, clear print. Ones only surprise is that the Old Flame is still attractive after being steeped in the Demon Drink for so long.
So many movies, so little time.... I finally caught up with this one. Early American film-making quickly set its market during the nickelodeon years on the lower classes, the people who could not afford a dollar for a seat in a legitimate theater, the foreigner who could not follow long swathes of dialogue, but would understand pantomime and poverty. British film-making, in contrast, strove for respectability. When it directed its efforts at the lower classes, it often took a lecturing tone. As a result, Robert Paul made the old Magic Lantern abolitionist show, Buy Your Own Cherries into a movie in 1904. By the early 1910s, both national markets expanded for greater profits, but remnants of earlier attitudes remained, and this one definitely offers that message, with its posters on the wall proclaiming that Britain needs volunteers for the War and the ruinous effect on home and health of drink. Travers definitely overacts in the throes of delirium tremens, as does Blanche Forsythe. As Goldwyn was said to have said, if you want to send a message, use Western Union, and this four-reel story lays it on good and hard.

Bob
Life's too short to sit on our rears watching other people's work.
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Jim Roots
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Jim Roots » Sat Jun 16, 2018 9:08 am

I've resisted The Test of Donald Norton (1926) for many years because of the lead character's name. Yes, I am that petty. It's a film set in the early days of Canada, when we were nothing but wigwams and Hudson's Bay Company posts amidst the armpit-deep snow of the wilderness (literally: one character swims through snow that engulfs him or her right up to the armpits). And here comes a physically huge, rough-tough, manly man of the forest dressed in plaid shirts and fringed buckskin coats (uhhh, not in Canada, folks: only in the USA West) and corduroy pants, throttling bad guys and run-pacing sled-dogs and tossing 500 pounds of untreated fur pelts over one shoulder, and his name is ... Donald Norton???!!!

I'm sorry, but that's a name for a bald-headed accountant in Omaha who lives with his mama and collects thimbles and is a vegetarian teetotaler.

I finally gave in when Grapevine put their DVD on special. I'm okay with the results. It doesn't disrespect Canada or Canadian history -- actually does a pretty good job of sketching in the competitive relationship between the HBC and the Northwest Company (the latter here called the Keewatin Company), and while its Indians talk Hollywood-Indian English, they aren't caricatures. They're actually amusing in a Frankenstein-style scene where they're supposed to be torchlight-bearing mobs threatening to burn down the bad guy's HBC outpost: while chanting murder in mass fury, they can't stop grinning and giggling straight into the camera.

It's the old story of the supposed half-breed in love with the white woman and trying to succeed in business against the evil machinations of the racist rival, only to be revealed in the end as [spoiler alert] the all-white son of the company boss, and therefore worthy of both the girl and the job. It's no better and no worse than the million other variations on the same theme, and it has quite a lot of interesting and unusual qualities, such as the dog-sled chase through all that snow, although I found it impossible to tell which of the four dog-sleds was which. The snow is obviously genuine, not soap flakes.

Biggest problem is the inept direction of "B. Reeves Eason", whoever he was. When one actor gives a bad performance, you can blame that actor; when every actor gives a bad performance, you must blame the director. Even Tyrone Power Sr has rotten moments here, such as when he and Robert Graves (the bad guy, not the British poet) are trapped inside the HBC post as the Natives storm it: given nothing to do by the director, Powers simply stands by Graves as the latter pretends to be bracing the door, and Powers does nothing but stare at him.

Evelyn Selbie plays the loony Indian mother in the same way countless actresses played the loony gypsy mother in a slew of early films (a staple figure which Harpo Marx effectively wiped out with his Gookie imitation in A Night At the Opera - see my avatar). Eugenia Gilbert is one of those forgotten great beauties of the silents, and is forced here to do test clips showing would-be actresses how to express fear, concern, horror, etc., due to Eason's idiotic direction.

Most pathetic of all, unhappily, is George Walsh who must remain front and centre in the lead role. Walsh has three poses: staring to the left, staring to the right, and staring to a spot just off the side of the camera. He may have a great Fairbanksian physique, but his acting is abysmal, and it's mostly due to the stupid direction he receives.

Jim

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

Unread post by sepiatone » Sat Jun 16, 2018 12:23 pm

Ella Cinders(1926), surprised that a few decent prints are online. Before there were scratched and cruddy though Alfred Green does a superb job. Too bad his Wallace REid film The Ghost Breakers is a lost film.

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

Unread post by sherry » Sat Jun 16, 2018 1:06 pm

sepiatone wrote: Too bad his Wallace REid film The Ghost Breakers is a lost film.
I wish we could see it and compare it to the Bob Hope movie ( just like the two The Cat and the Canary movies ).

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