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

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

Unread post by rudyfan » Mon Apr 02, 2018 2:35 pm

Last silent I watched was the US premiere of Lobster Films restoration of Cecil B. De Mille's King of Kings. I'm still working on my blog post reporting on it. I can say without reservation, the restoration is magnificent. The 2 color Technicolor sequences are just stunning. I also purchased the DVD set via Amazon FR and can highly recommend. It's just beautiful.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Red Bartlett » Wed Apr 04, 2018 10:34 am

I finally got around to watching my new(ish) Kinos -- Beggars of Life and Variete. Both very good films. Haven't finished Variete yet (only because I start watching so late in the evening) but it is an excellent film so far. Both seem quite low on title cards...especially Variete, which makes you forget you're watching an old silent film. It is amazing how both films, with such dynamic leads (Beery and Jannings), how quickly you forget you're watching an old film. Their talents were truly timeless.

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

Unread post by Red Bartlett » Wed Apr 04, 2018 9:41 pm

Just finished Variete. That movie is a f%$#g masterpiece!

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Thu Apr 05, 2018 12:09 pm

THE YELLOW TICKET (1918) has a few similarities with Raoul Walsh's 1931 film of the same name, but is a little disjointed at times, presumably due to missing footage. Running just under 50 minutes it has Pola Negri playing an ambitious medical student who hopes to cure her ailing father. Unfortunately the poor fellow dies shortly afterwards, and Negri travels to St Petersburg to study. In order to stay, being a Jew, she has to obtain a 'Yellow Ticket' from the authorities, not realising that this is an indication that she is a prostitute. She is 'helped' by a lady of the night in finding accommodation, then is told she must earn her keep in similar manner. In addition she has taken on her old tutor's dead sister's identity to help her in her studies.

If this doesn't sound involved enough, the tutor has discovered that she was in fact adopted, and then we find her new professor is her father! Negri doubles as her real mother in the flashbacks. Although this film is a trifle melodramatic, THE YELLOW PASSPORT is interesting and watchable enough and benefits enormously from some real ghetto footage which adds a good deal of authenticity as does the odiousness of the scenes of middle-aged sex pests who insist on the right to paw the poor girl about in the party scenes..

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Mon Apr 09, 2018 2:16 am

An early Australian feature, apparently culled from at least two prints*, THE BREAKING OF THE DROUGHT is a sort of family saga about a farmer whose struggles against nature are deepened when his son Gilbert goes off the rails. Sent away to medical college, he has fallen prey to an older fellow who uses his alluring lady friend to tempt him into parting with his money in addition to leading him into heavy gambling. The silly fellow has also forged a cheque, so is subject to the bounder's blackmail schemes.

Still foolishly trusting, he takes his 'friend' to meet his family and the bounder steals the mother's chequebook, which for some reason she doesn't seem to miss. When the young man, realising his folly, asks for £500 (about $2,500 then) to emigrate, the family decide to help, only to find the account is overdrawn. The film follows their troubles, through poverty and fortune, as well as the son's sister Marjorie's attempts to bring the young fellow back to his senses. In addition, there is a family friend, secretly in love with the daughter, but ashamed to declare his love owing to a past folly, which is later revealed.

The latter part of THE BREAKING OF THE DROUGHT is a bit hard to follow in places, due to decomposition and missing footage. A shame, really, because much of the rest of the film is in good to very good shape, and there are some very good shots of the farming methods of the day. An enjoyable, if rather fragmented drama.

*parts are in sepia, others in very crisp black and white, in addition to the affected sections.

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

Unread post by Battra92 » Mon Apr 09, 2018 6:20 am

I started watching some of the shorts on the DVD "Fairy Tales: Early Colour Stencil films from Pathé" The shorts themselves are lovely but the music ... good gravy WHAT WERE THEY THINKING??! I mean, I thought the Alloy Orchestra was bad but they are almost passable compared to this stuff. Basically, think of the rotten AIR soundtrack for A Trip to the Moon but remove all talent and musical ability and you get this mess.

So yeah, I watched it on Mute, set my receiver to its AUX input and had my phone play piano music and it was much, much better. A real score would've elevated these but the BFI for whatever reason thought this was a good idea.

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

Unread post by Big Silent Fan » Mon Apr 09, 2018 7:38 am

Today, I watched The Man Who Had Everything (1920) with Jack Pickford. It started off slow & predictable, but (nice surprise), the story became interesting.
It's without sound on YouTube but I added that.

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

Unread post by telical » Mon Apr 09, 2018 9:01 pm

Just watched A message from Mars (1913, G. B.), Wallett Waller, which is on YT now. The most wonderful silent film I've seen in a while. It's as if Dickens wrote science fiction. It's a take on the Christmas Carol theme, only this time it's men from Mars instead of the three spirits. Really should be watched while it's still on YouTube. I liked the score, which got better over time.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Tue Apr 10, 2018 1:03 pm

An episode of DR SIN FANG, THE ADVENTURE OF THE TORTURE CAGE (1928) is reportedly the only surviving part of this Fu Manchu - style serial. In this segment, the villainous Oriental (played by a very Western-looking H Agar Lyons) is seeking a valuable seal and will stop at nothing to get his wicked talons on it. Against him are a Lieutenant-Commander, played by director Fred Paul and his helpmate, Wally Patch. Also pitting their wits against the foul fellow are Paul's lady friend, who seems wan, ill and helpless early on, as well as the folk she rustles up to collar the crooks.

Entertaining and amusing, and with a chase which gives an excellent window into London street life of the time in addition to some interestingly seedy exteriors. There is also more than a content coincidence with Fu Manchu, as author Sax Rohmer also wrote the 'Si Fan Mysteries'...

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

Unread post by Jim Roots » Tue Apr 10, 2018 2:34 pm

Watched Ed's release of On Dangerous Ground (1917), which has been talked about here such that I will skip any precis of the plot.

Carlyle Blackwell has a nice head of hair in this film, and he’s using Roscoe Arbuckle’s occasional glances at the audience to convey his character’s thoughts (especially when he’s coyly dealing with women’s lingerie in his suitcase). Gayle Kane is nondescript but not incompetent as the French secret agent who attaches herself to him at the outbreak of the Great War. It’s a quick-moving film, doesn’t let you fall asleep, and has nice little risqué touches in a couple of places. It was also a quickly-made film, and that leads to a few elements that fly in the face of logic and possibility. When the Germans know their plans have been stolen, they could simply change their plans, but then we would have no film at all.

Unintentionally hilarious is the incredibly elastic timeframe for the climax. Gayle stands in an office in a small town at the border of Belgium as German soldiers interrogate her. Meanwhile, Blackwell escapes the site. The next thing we know, he’s in Brussels … and she’s still playing the same interrogation scene. He joins the Belgium Army, goes to the front, and is wounded … and she’s still playing the same interrogation scene. He’s taken unconscious to a hospital all the way over in France … and she’s still playing the same interrogation scene. He recovers and staggers his way to the office of the French Commanding Officer to deliver the plans … and she’s still playing the same interrogation scene!

My copy did have a little bit of pixilation at one point, but I simply waited it out, and was rewarded when it pulled itself together and continued on.

Jim

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

Unread post by drednm » Tue Apr 10, 2018 7:46 pm

Jim Roots wrote:Watched Ed's release of On Dangerous Ground (1917), which has been talked about here such that I will skip any precis of the plot.

Carlyle Blackwell has a nice head of hair in this film, and he’s using Roscoe Arbuckle’s occasional glances at the audience to convey his character’s thoughts (especially when he’s coyly dealing with women’s lingerie in his suitcase). Gayle Kane is nondescript but not incompetent as the French secret agent who attaches herself to him at the outbreak of the Great War. It’s a quick-moving film, doesn’t let you fall asleep, and has nice little risqué touches in a couple of places. It was also a quickly-made film, and that leads to a few elements that fly in the face of logic and possibility. When the Germans know their plans have been stolen, they could simply change their plans, but then we would have no film at all.

Unintentionally hilarious is the incredibly elastic timeframe for the climax. Gayle stands in an office in a small town at the border of Belgium as German soldiers interrogate her. Meanwhile, Blackwell escapes the site. The next thing we know, he’s in Brussels … and she’s still playing the same interrogation scene. He joins the Belgium Army, goes to the front, and is wounded … and she’s still playing the same interrogation scene. He’s taken unconscious to a hospital all the way over in France … and she’s still playing the same interrogation scene. He recovers and staggers his way to the office of the French Commanding Officer to deliver the plans … and she’s still playing the same interrogation scene!

My copy did have a little bit of pixilation at one point, but I simply waited it out, and was rewarded when it pulled itself together and continued on.

Jim
I like Blackwell. He's especially good in The Beloved Blackmailer (1918) with Evelyn Greeley.

The disks were defective so many have commented on the freezes, pixelation, etc. The disk maker has re-done the entire run and I should have them tomorrow. The LOC print was good though there are moments of decomp and some visible vertical scratches. Still, the disk problems were not part of the original print or my final version. Having watched this film umpteen times, I must say Gail Kane grew on me. Too bad only a few of her features have survived. She's much better in this film than she is in The Heart of the Hero (1916).
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Big Silent Fan » Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:14 am

Burn Em Up Barnes (1921) was my choice for early morning viewing. Co-directed and starring Johnny Hines, there was enough drama in this light comedy to hold my interest. All in all, a good 87 minute film without sound and mostly darkened, but readable titles.

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Wed Apr 11, 2018 1:07 pm

The copy of RECKLESS YOUTH (1922) I watched last night had no opening credits, so was relieved by the fact that my lack of recognition of the players was due to their being unknown to me, rather than my poor observation. One lively, and presumably loose-living, young lady ('Tootles' in the film) turned out to be an early appearance from Constance Bennett.

RECKLESS YOUTH opens with a young woman bemoaning her fate of living with her fuddy-duddies of parents and their nosey butler, though materially she wants for nothing. We do not see the parents, but whether this is due to missing footage*, I do not know. Anyway, the lady decides to scarper, enlisting the help of a wealthy friend, a seemingly stuffy fellow, who secretly loves her. In order to make their chaste co-habitation respectable, she agrees to marry him, but the advantages are all on her side as she proceeds to live off him and abuse his kindness, but at the same time keeps him at arm's length. The rather racy set she goes with treats the fellow like dirt, but a come-uppance is surely to hand...

At just over an hour, RECKLESS YOUTH is a smoothly entertaining mixture of manners and morals, despite being predictable in spots. The copy I watched was mute, but held the attention throughout, and one wondered how the plot was going to wrap itself up in the short time it took to unreel - but it did!

Followed this with a British short, THE LADY GODIVA (1928), which starts off with a brief look at contemporary Coventry, then goes into the story of the lady who rode naked to save the poor from being taxed. The period settings are none too convincing here, and I wondered how far the blinding of Peeping Tom the Tailor had its origins in fact. Courtesy of the BFI, this was too short to be tiresome and was at least of curiosity value.

*Robert Connelly's 'Motion Picture Guide' clarifies this. It wasn't the girl's parents, but her grandparents, who are looking after her while Mother is away on honeymoon. And she has been expelled from convent school, which explains why she is at home.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by wich2 » Thu Apr 12, 2018 7:49 am

(Yes, his name SOUNDS like an invented one! HYPER-preppie.)

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(Center, in one of his more famous turns.)

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

Unread post by Big Silent Fan » Thu Apr 12, 2018 8:00 am

If you like naturalist stories about wild horses, Black Cyclone (1925) should be of interest. Written by Hal Roach, there are two parallel stories here about a hero, a damsel in distress, and the evil villain. One is about horses and the other, about cowboys. IMDB lists the DVD version running 57 minutes, but it's 65 minutes on YouTube.

For entertainment value, this can be compared to the Disney Nature films and the early work of Marian C. Cooper.

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Thu Apr 12, 2018 12:36 pm

After giving up temporarily on ALIBI (1929) due to a not-too-clever copy with atrocious subtitles which appear to have been composed by the late Stanley Unwin, I turned to THE LEATHERNECK (1929), which as it's title implies, features the US Marines.

The story tells in a court-martial flashback how William Boyd seems to have deserted the Corps. Pals Boyd and Robert Armstrong chum up with German POW Alan Hale, who also becomes an American citizen. Love appears in the form of Tanya, a lady of Russian parentage (Diane Ellis*), whose family is in danger of being swindled by Fred Kohler, who at first feigns friendliness, and the story continues from there, as Boyd and his only witnesses so far are dead (Armstrong) and insane (Hale) and the girl is nowhere to be seen.

This rather sombre tale isn't helped by the almost total reliance on titles, and one wonders if it was a silent version of a talkie. Fortunately the content helps somewhat as it is not quite the usual three-marines format. Directed by Howard Higgin, much of whose output is still available, and who worked at least twice with Boyd and once with Armstrong. It could certainly be a good deal better, although at well under the hour it's not a chore to sit through.

*Ellis died the following year at the shockingly young age of twenty.

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

Unread post by Big Silent Fan » Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:49 am

The Michigan Kid (1928) features Conrad Nagel, Renée Adorée, and Lloyd Whitlock and direction by Irvin Willat who directed "Behind the Door." It appeared to have a musical score, but I quickly learned it didn't help, especially since it often went silent or didn't match the picture on the screen.
From IMDB:
The Michigan Kid is a gambler in the backwoods of Alaska trying to make enough money to go back to his hometown and impress the girl he loves. His childhood rival for the girl happens to turn up at his casino, in trouble and doesn't want his girl to find about it.
At times, it was difficult to tell who was the hero or villain, since the Kid tries to steal Rose from her fiancé and then, after stealing the money while the Kid sleeps, Hayward has second thoughts and puts it back. His conscience doesn't last though since Hayward, realizing the forest was on fire, smashes the Kid over the head, ties him up, and leaves him in a locked closet to die. The story becomes difficult to follow when Renée frees the Kid and after a struggle, the three escape the flames together in Hayward's canoe only to go over the falls into the water below.

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

Unread post by sepiatone » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:02 am

Rewatched Pola Negri's "A Woman of the World"(1925), only to find that the current YT upload is edited, missing two minutes. I look forward to Kino supposedly releasing this but the version currently on YT is 68 minutes. The version uploaded at the end of 2017 was 70 plus minutes.

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

Unread post by Jim Roots » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:18 pm

I had long forgotten the thread on "The Dolorous Divas" here on NitrateVille, which was dominated by Greta along with two people (Gene and Joseph) whom I don't think have remained particularly active participants. So when I came across a highlighted copy of Diva Dolorosa (1999) on my most recent visit to Bay Street Video in Toronto, I was amazed to think that apparently none of us had paid any attention to it. I thought it must be a new release. Oops ... Nearly 20 years old now, and well-discussed in the thread mentioned above. My bad. However, I watched it before I did a search online and discovered the old thread, so my response to it is fresh, if nothing else.

Peter Delpeut has interwoven scenes from 14 (actual) Italian silent films to create a continuous story of cinematic divas, from first encounters with enraptured men to inevitable doom. The narrative is inconsistent and not entirely satisfactory; we get fatal stabbings and other resolutions much too early in the three-act tragedy. If your goal is to snip together a pastiche story that has a beginning (infatuation), a middle (seduction, betrayal) and an end (death and/or despair), you need to stick to the chronology; only minor waffling can be excused.

Like most three-act operas, Diva Dolorosa starts briskly, with effervescence, humour, action, insouciance, fun. In the second act, it runs down into extended takes of soul-shredding anguish, heart-rending meditation, and lounging on fainting-couches that go on and on until you want to yell at the femme to “get over it already!” The third act just wraps things up, neither quickly nor slowly. It becomes a bit of a struggle to continue being interested in the proceedings, unless you're invested in the art of being a diva. (That explains Greta! :D )

But the original films themselves are things of great beauty, glamour, and style. Right near the beginning, there’s a technical feat that takes your breath away. The camera is trained on the backs of a couple attending an opera, which we can see over their shoulders in a backdrop. The backdrop film moves delicately from right (the stage) to left (the audience in other boxes), in perfect synchronization with “our” camera-eye’s tracking from left to right. It is terrific – really makes you sit up and exclaim, “WHOA!!!” [This was written before finding Gene's description of the same scene. Great minds think alike.]

Several scenes were filmed with colour effects, and it is fascinating to try to tell by the uneducated eye just how much of the remaining effects were intentional and how much are the consequences of time-faded colour degradation. A “Salome” in a multi-person dance sequence is lightly coloured – reddish top, turquoise skirt – and she is the only coloured figure in the scene, which suggests hand-colouring of that one character, but the colouring itself is not consistent with hand-colouring effects. In a later scene from, apparently, the same film, the colour spreads to green trees around her, but now it appears as though everything in this scene was filmed in colour which time has faded from the film’s sides in towards the centre.

As for the divas, they are a generally attractive lot in the dark Italian manner -- which, being a Nordic blond myself, I’m partial to: opposites attract. They do what divas do. They pout, laugh disdainfully, sneer, weep, stare, glare, lift their chin defiantly, throw flowers, throw fits, throw faints, throw vases, throw hysterics, throw longing looks, throw themselves on divans and beds and fainting-couches and to the floor and into men’s arms, shriek, wail, sneer some more, throw more hysterics, flash eyes, flash knives, flash teeth and flaring nostrils, keep their mouths open except when they kiss (one man has a mouth like Chaney’s “Phantom” which must have been revolting to kiss), faint some more, pretend to faint, sneer some more, preen, posture, pose, kill men, kill themselves… Pretty much everything Ellen Corby did. Or didn’t.

The overt objective of this compilation is transparently to re-cast the silent diva as a feminist icon: forced to deal with an oppressive male hegemony through their sexuality, celebrated and crucified for doing so, squeezed into a life where they have to spend hours dressing and applying makeup and sniffing roses and playing up to vamp expectations, while the men all strut around in dress suits and alternately fawn upon the women and consign them to brutal fates.

Attempting to claim a distinction between divas and femmes fatales, as Delpeut does, seems a bit precious: I don’t see how a woman could succeed as a diva if she weren’t a femme fatale, since the object of both is to game men through their sex fantasies.

Anyway, the film is a very interesting window into the Italian silent cinema, which I have always found to be as fascinating and innovative as the Russian and German silent cinemas while adding a humungous financial self-indulgence in spectacle that only D. W. Griffith and a few French filmmakers ever attempted to emulate. I recommend this film, with the caveat that its 70 minutes seems to stretch mostly in the last half-hour or so.

Jim

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

Unread post by greta de groat » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:25 pm

Jim Roots wrote:They do what divas do. They pout, laugh disdainfully, sneer, weep, stare, glare, lift their chin defiantly, throw flowers, throw fits, throw faints, throw vases, throw hysterics, throw longing looks, throw themselves on divans and beds and fainting-couches and to the floor and into men’s arms, shriek, wail, sneer some more, throw more hysterics, flash eyes, flash knives, flash teeth and flaring nostrils, keep their mouths open except when they kiss (one man has a mouth like Chaney’s “Phantom” which must have been revolting to kiss), faint some more, pretend to faint, sneer some more, preen, posture, pose, kill men, kill themselves… Pretty much everything Ellen Corby did. Or didn’t....

Jim
You forgot eating roses!

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:17 pm

THE LOVE GAMBLE (1925) was new to me, but turned out to be quite an enjoyable piece. Lillian Rich plays Peggy Mason, the stepdaughter of an oaf of a fellow whose habits are singularly unsalubrious, to put it mildly. A legacy of $1,000 gives her the impetus to free herself from this slob and find her way in life. The young man he is engaged to (sort of) takes this rather hard, and is forever pestering her for another chance.

Free now, she gravitates to the Bohemian quarter where she has decided to invest in a coffee shop. She also finds a beau in the shape of Robert Frazer, but there is a fly in the ointment, preventing him from marrying, (SPOILER), namely a wife!

THE LOVE GAMBLE is a mix of light drama, romance and murder, particularly when Frazer is in the frame for polishing off his missus, and is reluctant to clear himself for the most noble and foolish reasons. While the silly fellow is on trial, Rich is recovering from an injury, and her previous 'fiance' is keeping the details of Frazer's peril from her. A last minute dash to the courtroom, might have had more suspense as a dash to the execution chamber, and as seems to be the case in such films, they seem to be unable to remember that there is such a thing as a telephone! Support from Pauline Garon and Katherine Cliffotd, help in a not particularly remarkable, but decently entertaining movie.

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

Unread post by drednm » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:53 pm

The King of the Wild Horses (1924) is a mild western about a wild horse (Rex the Wonder Horse) who is saved by a man (Leon Bary) and then repays the favor in helping to foil a crooked ranch foreman whose blackmailed the weak son into selling off the ranch stock. Filmed in and around Kernville, CA (outside of Bakersfield) the movie is probably notable only for the casting of Charley Chase in the non-comedy role of the son. Edna Murphy is a stalwart daughter, Pat Hartigan is the bad guy. Playing "The Black," this was apparently Rex's film debut.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Big Silent Fan » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:19 am

drednm wrote:The King of the Wild Horses (1924) is a mild western about a wild horse (Rex the Wonder Horse) who is saved by a man (Leon Bary) and then repays the favor in helping to foil a crooked ranch foreman whose blackmailed the weak son into selling off the ranch stock. Filmed in and around Kernville, CA (outside of Bakersfield) the movie is probably notable only for the casting of Charley Chase in the non-comedy role of the son. Edna Murphy is a stalwart daughter, Pat Hartigan is the bad guy. Playing "The Black," this was apparently Rex's film debut.
Thanks for the tip. Having recently left a review here about "Black Cyclone" (1925), I look forward to another film featuring 'Rex, the Wonder Horse.

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

Unread post by Battra92 » Fri Apr 20, 2018 7:04 am

After suffering through half of the slog that was Tom Brown's Schooldays (1916) I gave up and went in search on another film to watch. Deciding to give the British another chance I actually went with an older film A Message From Mars (1913)

This film has been compared to A Christmas Carol and it has some similarities, but at its core is just a simple morality play. Still at just over an hour it's not a bad picture at all. The oddest part was that the lead was a much older man than his younger, far more attractive and far more corsetted fiancée.

I didn't think it was half bad but my wife thought otherwise and laughed through a good portion of the beginning before I turned it off and watched it in another room.

Unfortunately the soundtrack (if you want to call it that) is just random sound effects and my two year old could've done a better job than the so-called composer hired by the BFI. Watch this one with your own music, kids.

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Sat Apr 21, 2018 2:24 pm

Despite nearly being put off watching THE NICKEL-HOPPER (1926) by the print quality at the beginning, it turned out to be a sprightly long-short movie with a decent quota of laughs. Mabel Normand plays the dance-hall girl (the 'nickel-hopper' of the title), who, together with her mother keeps the household going, Father being spectacularly workshy. Most of Mabel's would-be suitors are quickly dismissed until a wealthy gent turns up. Brief bits from Jimmy Finlayson and Oliver Hardy as a manic drummer, and, according to IMDb, Boris Karloff.

And about 14m into the film there is a brief glimpse of what looked like Louise Brooks or Mildred Dixon.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by wich2 » Sat Apr 21, 2018 8:26 pm

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Sun Apr 22, 2018 4:08 am

A MODERN MONTE CHRISTO (sic) (1917) was, despite a couple of slips (which I have entered in IMDb) an interesting and well mounted film. In this updating, a doctor tells guests that he has been offered a $5,000 bribe to let one of his patients die on the operating table. When the patient does die, the doctor's friend informs the police of the bribe, implying that he had accepted.

Some time later, the doctor, who has been presumed to have committed suicide, reads of his 'friend' being married to his old fiancee. A bitter revenge is plotted in the man's heart after the woman dies and their child grows to adulthood. Aside from the errors (the film takes place over several years, but letters and a newspaper are all dated 1916), this is an absorbing, shortish feature, with two main actors (Vincent Serrano plays the doctor and Thomas Curran the friend who betrays him) unknown to me giving decent performances.

Frank Borzage's BACK PAY (1922) was taken from a Fannie Hurst novel, as was his HUMORESQUE a couple of years earlier. In this film, Seena Owen plays Hester Bevins, a small-town girl who finds life and the people around her dull and longs for the things money can buy - lots of money, that is. Leaving behind the town and the fellow who loves her (Matt Moore), she gets the things she wants, but at a price, a price which can't be calculated in dollars. Meanwhile America has entered the War, and Owen reads that Moore has been severely injured, and rushes to see him. Moore's (SPOILER) more serious than she realises, and she finds that he has been blinded and has been only given a short time to live, which prompts Owen to marry him for that brief period.

At this point one might expect a turn in their fortunes, but the doctor is proved right and Moore dies, but has left a legacy in the change of heart which comes over Owen, who is determined to forgo the 'good things' of New York (a coat which costs $22,000 is one of them) in order to return to values which aren't based on money and what it can buy.

In other hands than Borzage's, this sort of film could become unbearably soggy, particularly as there is a religious element to the plotting. However BACK PAY (the title refers to 'the wages of sin') is a well-handled, lyrical, and often moving film, which belies its running time. Folk not in the Borzage camp may well fight shy of this sort of thing, but I found it a remarkably effective drama, for which you may need to have a few handkerchiefs to hand. Remade in 1930.

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

Unread post by Donald Binks » Sun Apr 22, 2018 3:55 pm

I don't often go out to the pictures these days, so it has to be something special to entice me. Such a carrot on a stick was the screening of Buster Keaton in "Seven Chances" at Melbourne's "Palace Dendy Cinema 4" in Middle Brighton. This cinema is part of one of those "multiplexes" that have now come to replace proper picture palaces - but it is a slightly larger shoe-box than normal, and importantly, comes equipped with a Wurlitzer organ.

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David Bailey, gaining quite a reputation as an organist specialising in silent film accompaniment had travelled down from Brisbane by aeroplane for the day and gave a very good account of himself. He played suitable music for patrons entering the cinema and finding a seat upon which to sit, then he played for two films as well as a couple of solo spots.

There was a reasonable audience of people who were obviously of the opinion that talkies were a new-fangled fad that probably wouldn't last and it was good to see a few young 'uns in amongst the regular outcrop of balding and white-haired heads.

The projectionist earned full marks by presenting the films properly and in a novel fashion. All too often cinemas these days are quite incapable of masking down the screen to the proper aspect ratio, however this bloke overcame such difficulties by throwing a slide or what have you featuring curtains, on to the background and then projecting the film on to a "screen" in the middle of it. Very effective.

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The first film on the programme was Laurel and Hardy's first teaming together - "Putting Pants on Phillip". A very nice print, much better than those I had seen before. Mr. Bailey's accompaniment was spot on and every time Mr. Laurel espied a pretty young thing - off would go a police siren followed by a klaxon horn. It's interesting to see a very early Laurel and Hardy picture and how what became their signature trade-marks were just starting to form. The audience loved it.

Another item on the first half was a series of slides from the gangster film "Underground" (1927) which Mr. Bailey used to illustrate a selection of excerpted themes from his score for this picture. An interesting way to add punctuation to a virtual solo spot.

After interval it was time for Buster Keaton and Mr. Bailey again didn't disappoint opening the picture with a spirited rendition of Mendelssohn's "Wedding March" which morphed into the remainder of an excellent accompaniment showcasing the wonders of the Wurlitzer - and the audience certainly appreciated those scenes that featured steam engines!

This picture has to be one of Buster Keaton's best. It starts off so simply and then gradually builds and builds to a ginormous chase scene which not only shows Mr. Keaton's amazing agility, but is quite novel in execution. The audience let out a noticable "Oooooh" at the opening colour scene and throughout the picture there were a number of hearty guffaws which sent off everyone else into parochisms of mirth. The print overall was in excellent condition, pristine and looking like the film was made yesterday.

Afterwards, everybody was saddened that their escape in a time machine was over, that 1927 had to be once again thrown to the annals of the past as we all made our way outside into the 21st Century.
Regards from
Donald Binks

"So, she said: "Elly, it's no use letting Lou have the sherry glasses..."She won't appreciate them,
she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."

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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 » Mon Apr 23, 2018 5:25 am

Donald Binks wrote:I don't often go out to the pictures these days, so it has to be something special to entice me. Such a carrot on a stick was the screening of Buster Keaton in "Seven Chances" at Melbourne's "Palace Dendy Cinema 4" in Middle Brighton. This cinema is part of one of those "multiplexes" that have now come to replace proper picture palaces - but it is a slightly larger shoe-box than normal, and importantly, comes equipped with a Wurlitzer organ.

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Binky, I can't quite pick you out in this picture. Are you the one wearing red?

Jim

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

Unread post by Big Silent Fan » Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:50 am

Donald Binks wrote:
The projectionist earned full marks by presenting the films properly and in a novel fashion. All too often cinemas these days are quite incapable of masking down the screen to the proper aspect ratio, however this bloke overcame such difficulties by throwing a slide or what have you featuring curtains, on to the background and then projecting the film on to a "screen" in the middle of it. Very effective.

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What a terrific idea! Funny, I never even thought someone could do that.

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