10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by drednm » Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:22 pm

The Woman God Forgot (1917) has everything you'd expect in a Cecil B. De Mille film about the clash between the Aztecs and the conquering Spanish. It's got sensual dances, pagan gods, outlandish costumes, and two of the reigning screen deities: Geraldine Farrar and Wallace Reid. The plot is typical De Mille with Farrar, daughter of the Aztec king, falling for Spanish Reid. Because of her love, she allows the conquerors to enter the palace and a big fight ensues. After all the Aztecs are killed, she's banished from the city but of course Reid follows her into the setting sun. Farrar is terrific. A big name in opera, she had a solid film career from 1915 to 1920, usually in diva parts. At 35 or so, she has an early maturity that reminds me of Clara Kimball Young or Gail Kane. Reid is almost more famous for his death than for his film work, which is too bad. He had a nice easy manner in front of a camera. The film is an eye-popper with lavish sets. The Italian-titled copy is nicely tinted. Might make a nice Kickstarter to completely re-do the titles and be rid of the English crawl. Co-stars Hobart Bosworth, Julia Faye, Raymond Hatton, Walter Long, Theodore Kosloff. Ramon Novarro is supposedly an extra but I never spotted him.

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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by Roseha » Fri Jan 26, 2018 10:21 pm

Evangeline (1929) is a beautiful late silent, eloquent in its direction, as well as in Dolores del Rio’s fine performance. I was aware of the tragic history of the Acadians forced off their land but didn’t know too much else about this film except that del Rio did sing in it. I do think that singing is a more natural fit for silent film than partial dialogue, although she does speak at the very end which is very moving. Without giving too much away I didn’t quite expect all the drama of the last 20 minutes, however it was beautifully accomplished and performed by everyone. There were some fine scenes all along; the British soldiers marching in during the betrothal celebration of Evangeline and Gabriel; the scene as the ships are leaving and Evangeline, all in black, suddenly suffers two huge losses; a desperate night in a storm, and the little scene where she finds Gabriel’s room and touches his clothing and items. The tinting and music were also lovely and it makes me want to find more late silents that I haven’t seen yet. Fine job by Milestone.
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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by oldposterho » Fri Jan 26, 2018 10:27 pm

Well, The Bitter Tea of General Yen is something I'll regret not visiting earlier, so hats off to Movie Night for finally getting me to check it off. Things got off to a bit of a rocky start as my 'different times' filter had to be deployed for the...let's call them cultural insensitivities...Happily, that's really only necessary for the first few minutes and, thinking about it now, might actually been used to make a point.

Nothing like what I was expecting and as good as those up-post were indicating. Babs is in her prime, Capra is at his least corn, and the whole thing comes together brilliantly. I will totally be rewatching.

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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Sat Jan 27, 2018 12:16 am

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DIE SPINNEN (THE SPIDERS)

Vast, hidden criminal conspiracies figure in many of Fritz Lang's films— eventually the Nazis would prove to be the villains of Lang's dreams, capable of making plots such as Man Hunt's (big game hunter decides to bag the Führer) or Ministry of Fear's (man wins cake at carnival and must run for his life) seem logical. But even when they really exist, like the organized crime gang in The Big Heat, at bottom the idea of the underworld has its roots in pulp, Moriarty's web and so on, and in Lang's work Die Spinnen, his earliest surviving film... well, this is them at their pulpiest, a secret society that meets behind hidden panels and leaves models of spiders and messages when they kill, in a pair of movies with everything from mind-reading Yogis to rooms whose walls move to crush you. If Republic Studio's serials were all lost, you could clone them from these movies.

That said, being an early example of its genre, there are times it can be so overfamiliar from later imitators that it can be a slog. Part 1 (each runs about 90-100 min.) sets up our hero, Kay Hoog, the Indiana Jones-ish adventurer (in fact hawk-faced Carl Vogt frequently looks a double for Indy's most direct inspiration, Charlton Heston, in Secrets of the Incas). Rich, an international playboy and explorer, Hoog gets word of another lost explorer's find— a secret kingdom of the Incas— and he quickly acquires the Spiders and their female leader, Lio Sha (Ressel Orla), as his rivals. To be honest, it's not clear they're any worse than he is— they're just both on the hunt— and the real enemy in this part is the high priest of the Incan cult, who plans to force Princess Naela (Lil Dagover) to sacrifice someone... and they just happen to capture Lio Sha at that moment.

Part 1 has nice sets of the Incan temple— funny to think of that being built in Germany, probably in 40-degree weather— and the action moves along, but it's only moderately well staged (once the big fight starts, who knows what's going on) and the other problem is that Vogt seems to have exactly one expression— Grim Determination— which Lang is only somewhat interested in even getting a good look at. I'd have preferred the Republic version by the end, or, for that matter, the much more interesting The Indian Tomb, written by Lang but directed by Joe May, with Conrad Veidt marvelous as the androgynous, jewel-bedecked prince, the David Bowie of the silent movie Orient.

Six months passed between the release of part 1 and part 2, and they seemed to have learned from the first one—part 2 is looser, more fun, and Vogt suddenly has a personality in the role. The Spiders are searching for a jewel called the Buddha Diamond, with a plan of using it to inspire Asia to rise up against... well, its colonial oppressors, so again it might be hard to see why, exactly, they're the bad guys in this story. But they have all the other characteristics of bad guys, like an entire underground city beneath Chinatown which Kay Hoog must infiltrate. They set sail for Asia, but Kay Hoog manages to sneak aboard in ninja costume inside a large crate (whose interior is outfitted for the gentleman he is), and he messes with the Spiders for a bit before he solves the mystery of where the Buddha Diamond is; five minutes later they've all sailed to the Falklands, and are fighting it out in a cave while the Spiders proceed with their plan to take over Asia. Honestly, I can't even make sense of it at this remove, but hey, you had me at "underground city beneath Chinatown."

So it's fun, but a relative trifle, frothy pulp next to more serious secret underworld conspiracies run by the likes of Dr. Mabuse and Haghi; and the leap in filmmaking capability from this to the Nibelungen films just two years later is enormous. The restoration seems relatively complete, and though it has frequent speckles, it generally looks pretty good (though the cinematography is not at the level of Lang's subsequent films). Ben Model's score ranges from heroic to mock-heroic to winking, as warranted by the plot. One nice thing I found: Carl Vogt turns up in a Dr. Mabuse film, The Invisible Dr. Mabuse, 43 years later (not one of Lang's, but still). Something odd I found: Louis Calhern's real name was... Carl Henry Vogt.

I'll see if I can get through any more of the unseen titles on Kino's Fritz Lang set during Watch That Movie Night.
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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by greta de groat » Sat Jan 27, 2018 12:25 am

Though not a particular fan of Philip Glass, i have enjoyed several of his theatrical compositions, including his "opera" version of La Belle et La Bete, which i saw live with Glass and his ensemble in Olympia Washington. I was interested when his version of Dracula came out; but unfortunately i've heard only negative reviews. Having missed a recent live performance in Oakland, i decided to see if it had made it to video. At Stanford, we have two different video editions of this, and i chose the Dracula 75th anniversary Edition (Universal, 2006) with the score performed by the Kronos Quartet.


The credit music, while not as evocative as the iconic Swan Lake music, does set an ominous mood. Once the film starts, the score is mildly distracting during the initial dialog sequences. Once we get past the village and into largely silent sequences to and in Castle Dracula, i found it reasonably effective, and rather fun to see the familiar sequences in a different way. I was afraid that once we got to the stagy parts that the score would be more annoying than helpful, but i found that it mostly stayed in the background (almost too much so) until popping out to underline a dramatic point, like the breaking of the mirror or the first attack on Mina. But not always, a few key scenes went for naught, like the discovery of the marks on Mina's neck or Dracula's death, where it covers up Lugosi's groan but adds nothing interesting. And i suppose it is a cliche to have a big swell at the end, but instead the score sort of peters away quietly in an underwhelming fashion. Overall, i didn't mind the score and found it an interesting curiosity. Glass is Glass, however, and there is a great deal of sameness about the score. I don't think it really added much either, but i found it somewhat more interesting on a second viewing.

This movie was probably an attractive project since it does have such long silent sequences. But i didn't really think it worked around dialog-heavy sequences which were not designed for scoring But frankly i'd rather see Glass score an actual silent film, or go all the way and turn off the sound track entirely, as he did with La Belle et La Bete.

It was nice seeing Dracula again, in any case. I think it has rather a bad rap for being stodgy and unimaginative, but i was finding myself admiring its simplicity. And i always found its silences compelling, so i've never been troubled by its lack of music.

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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by silentsaregolden » Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:09 am

Watched "The Sky Pilot" last night - I watched this originally when it was released on one of those Paul Killiam VHS tapes from Critics Choice Video several years ago. It originally had a stupid western score that just didn't work. I recorded my own score for it a long time ago. Anyway, I always liked this movie, not only because it is an early Colleen Moore (and she is at her loveliest in this one), but it's also a good solid story. I'm not much of a John Bowers fan, but he is well cast for the part of the Sky Pilot. David Butler is great as his buddy - a very likable actor. I have always admired Butler, too, for going on to a successful career as a director, not only in movies, but TV, too. In a book that was a long interview with him in later years, he said he really liked Bowers and couldn't understand why he committed suicide in the 1930's. Butler remembered, "John Bowers was a very nice man, a quiet fellow, very handsome, but kind of a dreamer, which is the only way I could account for his end." Colleen Moore didn't mention Bowers or Butler in her autobiography, but she did seem to remember filming the snow scenes in Truckee fondly - especially a mind-reading act she and King Vidor worked up to keep everyone entertained at night in the remote location. I'm just surprised this hasn't gotten a good DVD release with a good score.

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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by Wm. Charles Morrow » Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:41 am

It’s been years since I’ve watched that granddaddy of all prison flicks, MGM’s The Big House (1930). For my “Watch That Movie” selection I chose a variation on it, something I’d never seen: the studio’s concurrently produced French language version, officially known as Révolte dans la prison, although the title card in the opening credits of the Warner Archive release reads simply Big House, sans "The." Paul Fejos (a.k.a. Pál Fejös) directed it; he handled this film’s French & German language editions as his final Hollywood assignment before returning to Europe.

Like I say, I hadn’t seen the English language version in a long time, and I didn’t compare them back-to-back from beginning to end, but if memory serves it appears that Fejos replicated George Hill’s original pretty closely. Based on what’s known about Fejo’s comparatively brief, unhappy stint in Hollywood, it seems he was demoralized by this point, and probably had little interest in putting his personal stamp on the project—in contrast with, say, George Melford’s Spanish language Drácula, which differs significantly from Tod Browning’s version. At one point, towards the finale of Fejo’s Big House, there’s a rather flamboyant moving camera shot during the sequence in the prison chapel, but when I compared the scene to the more familiar English language version I found that very same elaborate shot was used by Hill. Presumably Hill did it first, so it looks like Fejos simply followed the established blueprint.

I liked Charles Boyer in the Morgan role, in fact I liked him better than Chester Morris. (Thanks to TCM I’m seeing a lot of Boyer this month.) I also liked André Burgère in the Robert Montgomery role, i.e. the young man who winds up in prison because of a drunk driving accident, a guy who is not really a criminal, and who proves to be a weakling when the pressure is on. Where casting is concerned, however, the biggest drawback of the French Big House is André Berley as Butch, the tough guy played by Wallace Beery in the familiar version. Berley isn’t bad, but he isn’t really suited to the part. He’s short and rotund, and comes off like a Gallic Ed Brophy, more comic than threatening. Beery was perfect for the part, in fact it may be one of the best things he ever did, and his absence in the French version is keenly felt.

As I noted up top I didn’t compare the two versions back-to-back except for just a couple of scenes, but based on my memory of the English language release I believe the dialog is identical in the French edition, with no adjustments made. (It's possible that Gallic slang terms or idioms are used, but someone else will have to confirm that.) This comes off as a little strange at times; based on the newspaper headlines we are shown, as well as other clues, the setting is still California, and yet everyone is mysteriously speaking French. A reference to Prohibition, which wouldn’t have made sense in France, is retained verbatim. Oh well, c’est la vie!
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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by tthacker » Sat Jan 27, 2018 10:17 am

Kean (1924)

I have been neglecting Flicker Alley's Films Albatros boxset, so this seemed like a good opportunity to rectify the situation. I chose Kean for my viewing and wasn't disappointed. Ivan Mosjoukine plays Edmund Kean, the great Shakespearean actor of the early 19th century. The film begins with a performance of Romeo and Juliet. I was worried as things were played a bit close to parody, but as the film continued it became clear that the overall tone was one of theatricality and melodrama. The story mainly focuses on Kean's infatuation with a married Countess, which leads to his downfall, but there are some nice bits of humor spread throughout. Kean may have said that dying is hard, comedy is harder, but Mosjoukine is certainly up to the task on both counts (not sure if it's just me, but he sometimes seems like a cross between Harry Langdon and William S Hart). The film ends with an appropriately melodramatic (and highly fictional) death scene. And now I need to go explore the other films in the set.
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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by Big Silent Fan » Sat Jan 27, 2018 12:52 pm

My choice was to watch again, Tarzan of the Apes (1918). I'd recently seen the film with the newest score, but chose instead to watch my copy, originally a one dollar VHS tape with no sound. Long long ago, by using animal sounds taken from "Quest for Fire" for the opening scenes and my old, "Music from the Silent Films" LP record for the rest, I made a primitive but usable audio score. Primitive? Because I was using microphones to record the vinyl record onto audio tape and several times, the sound of a telephone ringing can still be heard during the recording. I watched this older DVD-r recording in a Blu-ray player because of the better quality image. The film may be stretched to a widescreen format, but what I saw was as least as sharp as the latest copy available.

According to the 1927 New York Times, Tarzan of the Apes premiered on this day, 100 years ago (a day earlier than IMDB says). At the time, it was nearly three hours in length and might not have included some the nudity seen in the 61 minute film today. Here is a lists of things the censors didn't like.
Like many American films of the time, Tarzan of the Apes was subject to cuts by city and state film censorship boards. For Chicago Board of Censors cut: "in Reel 1, the captain shooting man and his falling, two scenes of men with captain being shot and falling, striking man on head, Reel 3, scene of boy being frightened by lion and jumping up showing his sex, woman standing over kettle showing breasts, Reel 5, first two scenes of maid on man's lap in closet, three choking scenes, Reel 7, two closeups of Negro leering at woman and four scenes where he carries her off." [4]

http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res ... 946996D6CF" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank

Young Gordon Griffith plays the boy Tarzan during the first third of the film, most of it, totally naked. Already a veteran actor, he truly brought life to the most important part of the story. As he matured, working in later sound films, he was in several westerns. In addition to acting, Griffith had many other film credits. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Griffith" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank

Originally, actor Stellan Windrow was selected to be the older Tarzan. A Naval Reserve officer, he's the one you can see in the film actually swinging from the vines. Just as film production was underway, 'WW I' broke out and he reported for duty, leaving them without their leading actor to play Tarzan. To see photos of Windrow: http://www.erbzine.com/cards/film/stellanall.jpg" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank

Edgar Rice Burroughs wasn't too happy with Elmo Lincoln as the replacement but regardless, Lincoln does a fine job bringing believability to the role of Tarzan.
I like this film because even in it's much shortened version, it still tells the complete story, beginning with Lord Greystoke (John Clayton), being commissioned by the British Government to put down the Slave Trade in Africa. Women must surely have enjoy seeing Lady Greystoke insist she be allowed to go along with her husband.
Caught in the middle of a mutiny at sea, they're put ashore, stranded with only their belongings. They must have known Lady Alice was with child because later in the story, we see a children's spelling book and other items were left inside the primitive cabin they built. The child was born, but less than a year later, Lady Alice Clayton died, leaving Lord John to care for his child that still needed to be weaned.
This of course is where the story of the Apes comes in. To replaced the dead baby ape, the nearby apes attack the cabin, take the child, leaving the dead one in the crib and Lord Greystoke mortally wounded.
The boy, weaned by his adopted Ape mother Kala, grows, never understanding he was anything else than one of the apes.
Years later, friends and perhaps family of the Greystokes come to Africa to investigate what they have been told by a sailor named Binns, who had both helped the Greystokes during the mutiny and discovered their living son years later.
Morgan City, Louisiana likes to claim all of the film was done there and Los Angeles, California, but the 'real' native scenes were said to have been done in Brazil. The authentic tribe of natives, complete with nude images of men and topless girls (as if they were taken from 'National Geographic' expeditions) were not appreciated by the censors, but certainly made the film more believable.

Not a great film perhaps, but it launched a story that is known by most everyone today. "Tarzan of the Apes," and "Nosferatu" were the first two Silent Films in my original VHS collection.

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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by Kerr Lockhart » Sat Jan 27, 2018 1:28 pm

So I got to my Christmas gift Kino Lorber Blu Ray of The Last Laugh, starting Friday afternoon and finishing this morning. I found that I remembered it from my college days screening fairly well. Jannings performance is physically quite wonderful, although he does start sinking pretty quickly in the story and by the end he is virtually immobile. I may have remembered it as being more gradual. I was probably not as aware of the expressionistic artificiality of the sets, especially the apartment courtyard which has a frankly painted flat, and walls that are deliberately off square.

Most impressive is that, although the story would fit neatly in a two-reeler, the film does not feel padded and attenuated (except for some indulgent close-ups of Jannings toward the end). The "fake" ending doesn't bother me as much, insofar as it (a) is announced in advance as being fake; and (b) offers an interesting critique; to wit, whereas in 19th century Prussian-influenced society, the uniform confers status and power, in the 20th century, money does it and does it even better. It is regrettable that the English title seems to refer to this phony ending. The German title, which means something like, "The Guy Before This Guy" is more telling and appropriate.

It is remarkably straightforward for a Murnau, especially in comparison with something like the baroque Sunrise (one of my all-time silent favorites). Anyway, glad this little promotion kicked my tail to watch it. My sister very generously gave me this film, plus A Diary of a Young Girl, Wings, documentaries about Laurel and Hardy and Hal Roach respectively, and the 1994 Luc Besson film Leon The Professional. (Talking pictures are OK by me.)

BTW, the reconstruction of the original score worked far better for me than the new score, which is filled with ear-blistering synthesizer noise. When are silent film composers going to jettison cheesy synthesizers that sound like cheesy synthesizers? Isn't that over yet?

Now I still have to finish going through the copy of Langdon: Lost and Found I found on e-Bay just before Xmas!

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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Sat Jan 27, 2018 6:44 pm

So I tried watching Harakiri, the 1920 version of Madame Butterfly that Lang made between the two parts of Die Spinnen. It's about as good as you could expect a German silent version of Madame Butterfly to be, which is to say, it's handsomely shot (I suspect they used an actual Japanese-style park somewhere in Berlin) and reasonably well acted, but... like early versions of many stories that were filmed later, just because they can hit the plot points, doesn't mean it's that compelling as drama, and you'd never guess it was Lang directing (but then I said the same about Destiny some years back, on another Watch That Movie Night). I was very conscious, anyway, that I was watching Germans dressed up like Japanese, a barrier to empathy for the characters I couldn't quite get past.

Knowing what was coming, about 30 minutes in I decided I could finally watch Mizoguchi's The Life of Oharu which I have on the DVR instead. Or something else, anyway, I didn't have to check this one off just for the sake of completeness.
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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by Javier » Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:13 pm

Considering that Gertrud is a very slow Film which some might find irritating, dull & tedious, I chose it because every time I watch it, I come away questioning the decisions made by the main characters which at the end makes one wonder why they are/seem so selfish and self-centered.

Gertrud wants a divorce from Husband, who still clings to her even though she is having an affair with a younger man, she carries herself as if she is always the one who is hurt by everyone but yet, she does not see how cruel she can be with the ones who have been romantically involved with her.

The men are not better than she is, but every time I watch it I find strange how they seem to think she is everything a lover can be to them. The ending makes me wonder about the fate of the main characters in their old age, since only Gertrud and her best friend Axel are shown as now being in their very advanced age having a last goodbye conversation.

Nina Pens Rode is excellent as Gertrud, which is the only film I have seen her in. Bendt Rothe as the Husband and Axel Strøbye as Gertrud's best friend were very good as well.

I watched it late last night without any interruptions around me, since this movie requires a lot of attention as a silent one would.
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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by Zool » Sun Jan 28, 2018 12:10 am

Watched Cutter's Way. John Heard made that movie. Cutter was NUTS, but he was all right and you couldn't help but feel a little sorry for him.
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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by Rick Lanham » Sun Jan 28, 2018 8:56 am

The Fallen Idol (1948), directed by Carol Reed, based on a Graham Greene story.

At a foreign embassy in London, the 8 year old son of the ambassador has formed a friendship with the embassy’s butler. The boy is entertained by the butler’s tall tales, which are probably much more interesting than anything his father does.

The boy is left alone with the servants for a few days while his father goes somewhere to retrieve his wife, the boy’s mother, who has been ill for months. The boy’s life is now filled with secrets, deception, and confusion; mostly forced on him by adults. I guess a boy’s best friend is his mother… oh, wait that’s another movie.

A terrible crime seems to have happened and nearly everyone lies about events, the boy included. He’s told he must stop and tell only the truth from now on…

I don’t want to spoil anything by saying much more. There’s one laugh-out-loud moment, I wonder what happened back in the day.

Ralph Richardson is the butler, Bobby Henrey the boy, also Michèle Morgan, the sharp-featured Sonia Dresdel, with Jack Hawkins in a smaller role.

The extras on the blu-ray from StudioCanal/BFI include several interviews covering Carol Reed’s work habits, filming locations, how the original story was changed, etc. One of the interviews is of the little boy, all grown up; very interesting stuff. Don’t watch the extras until you see the film! The blu-ray does have subtitles.

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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by Jim Roots » Sun Jan 28, 2018 9:23 am

This was the third time I've watched Sunrise. Each time, I've come away liking it more than before. (I really wasn't all that impressed the first time!)

The comedy in the middle becomes increasingly tolerable when you know it's coming. This time around, it actually felt properly integrated into the story, instead of being too-obviously forced onto a resentful Murnau. The fancy-pants technical achievements of overlapping images, which was irritating and self-consciously "artistic" the first time, can now be deeply appreciated for the way they merge psychology with vision. Murnau can and did make true Art out of anything: he was an undeniable genius of filmmaking.

This time around, what struck me was that Sunrise is a film noir. The first third is classic noir: the femme fatale using her sexuality to bully the anti-hero into murdering his wife, with everything taking place in a perpetual dark night. The last part is also pure noir: the anti-hero changes his mind and tries desperately to save his wife, but the Fates have already doomed them. Only the happy ending and the comedy in the middle are out of step with noir, and you could even argue they are also noirish elements (there are occasional comedy and happy endings in noir, after all).

I look forward to a fourth viewing, maybe ten years down the line!

Jim

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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by Peg of the PreCodes » Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:15 am

Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages (D.W. Griffith, 1916)

Between the film's length, and the lingering disfavor surrounding Griffith, I balked at watching Intolerance. But when a couple of years ago I sat down and watched Birth of a Nation, I found myself caught up and carried along by the narrative. The same was true watching Intolerance this weekend. The balance of spectacle, attention-grabbing storylines, and contrapuntal cross-cutting between those stories, is an extraordinary achievement. I'm glad I made the time and space to sit down and watch this.

I was especially impressed by the prominent, active, and matter-of-fact presence of women in each story arc. Now that's something I'd like to see more contemporary filmmakers embrace.

One film-related New Year's resolution done; the others (in order of perceived difficulty):
1) See some or all of AFI Silver's 2018 FIlm Noir festival.
2) Go to Mostly Lost 2018.
3) Go to Capitolfest 2018.
4) Find a film aficionado boyfriend.

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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by Jim Roots » Sun Jan 28, 2018 12:12 pm

Peg of the PreCodes wrote: 4) Find a film aficionado boyfriend.
Are you inviting applications from NitrateVillains?

Jim
(sorry, taken already)

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Mitch Farish
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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by Mitch Farish » Sun Jan 28, 2018 12:18 pm

So I watched Maurice Tourneur’s A Girl’s Folly (1917), and although the plot about a bored country girl trying to crash the movies after being swept away by a matinee idol seems clichéd now, there isn’t an earlier feature of which I am aware that takes an insider's view of the emerging film industry—Chaplin and Sennett went down that road in short films, but this is the earliest feature I can think of. Doris Kenyon and Robert Warwick are fine in the leads, and it was cool seeing Tourneur play the director, seeing the stage hands at work and the actors pose for action stills. It was fun spotting Leatrice Joy in an early uncredited bit. But it was more interesting seeing what Tourneur and Frances Marion did with the script.

For a Western being shot in New Jersey, matinee idol Kenneth Driscoll (Warwick) is a ringer for Bill Hart, doing his own stunts in a peaked-crown Stetson, and putting on his stalwart hero face for the camera. When the camera rolls, the other cast members overact as well. Driscoll knows what he’s supposed to do and ignores Tourneur’s direction, but the girl who Tourneur cues to enter through a door needs personal coaching. Tourneur acts out the scene to show her how, skipping through the door like Mae Marsh and waving to Dricoll before skipping out again. I’m convinced this was Tourneur’s and Marion’s send-up of Griffith.

More significant I think is the way Tourneur used African-American actors, one playing Dricoll's valet and another playing a stage hand watching the shoot. They’re not comic relief; they’re real people, the least stereotypical in the film. The valet is busy backstage autographing Dricoll’s fan photos while the stage hand on the set is watching and laughing at the antics of the white actors. A shoot-out between the good guy and the villain provokes an eye-popping reaction from one of the white stage hands, but the black man is just amused by the actors’ melodramatics. It’s well known that Tourneur was a cosmopolitan man who valued realism in his films, and I’d like to believe the role reversal was his chance for a dig at Griffith's love of melodrama and his racism. He may have had The Birth of a Nation in mind in 1920 when he made The Last of the Mohicans, pushing Cooper’s white hero Hawkeye into the background to focus on the interracial romance between Cora and Uncas.

John van den Broek’s cinematography and lighting are beautiful, as is Doris Kenyon as aspiring starlet Mary Baker, and I honestly didn’t know until the last scene whether she’d end up with Driscoll or the farmer who loves her back home, and who wears in real life a hat similar to the Stetson that Driscoll wears in the movie.
Last edited by Mitch Farish on Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:20 pm, edited 5 times in total.

Brock Davis
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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by Brock Davis » Sun Jan 28, 2018 7:54 pm

I haven't gotten to Wild Oranges yet, but I did get to see Steamboat Bill Jr. again on Friday, and With Ken Double playing live. It was great and I have seen it often, but this time I got to share it with my wife, 4 of my 5 kids (The 3 year old had a fever and stayed home with grandma), and my priest. All loved it, especially my 5 year old who loves the shorts, but hadn't watched a feature yet.

I will say that having just watched The General a couple of weeks ago, it is the better film. I have always said they were my 2 favorite Keaton films, but Steamboat Bill Jr. is a little disjointed. Some of the sequences don't really add anything to the plot. They are fun and I love it, but in the General everything just works and works to further the plot.

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Mike Gebert
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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Sun Jan 28, 2018 8:10 pm

Image

THE PLAGUE OF FLORENCE (1919)

Hoping for something more captivating than a German Madame Butterfly from the Lang set, I tried the least-known film, The Plague of Florence, written by Lang from Poe's The Masque of the Red Death, and directed by Otto Rippert, unknown to me (he turns out to be the director of Homunculus).

Wow! A powerful film, and a stunning restoration from the camera negative, all make this the hidden gem on the set.

Florence is run by a party of dour theocrats led by Cesare. His son Lorenzo (we are mixing our Borgias with our Medicis, apparently) pleads for them to lighten up, there is too little joy in Florence, but dour Cesare doesn't listen. A courtesan from Venice (Marga von Kierska) arrives in town, stirs up the young bloods, and Cesare has her seized and tortured. In the ensuing chaos he is overthrown by his son who declares that partying shall be the order of the day. But they take it too far and a monk (Theodor Becker) arrives to preach repentance. He falls under the courtesan's spell, too, and, well, to say that it all goes to Hell from there is understating the matter (since among other things, the story literally does go to Hell for a spell).

Having just watched Die Nibelungen, it's easy to see Lang's similar interest in a story of a society's self-inflicted doom, with Becker's monk the equivalent of Kriemhild, determined to see everything go up in flames. The presence of a figure of Death (well, the plague) obviously suggests Destiny as well. But compared to Lang's formal compositions, with the Burgundians walking on the square, Rippert prefers a chaotic frame, full of vigorous action; the rarest thing in film is scenes of decadence that actually seem lusty, but he knows how to stage a party so that just when you're about to think the extras are a little weary, somebody tackles a dancing girl right in the middle of the frame and tries to have his way on the floor, or at the very least a dwarf will go riding by on a pig or something.

The biggest flaw is that von Kierska just doesn't have the raw magnetism to be the woman who leads a whole society to ruin— imagine if Pola Negri had gotten the role!— but Becker, a stage actor and acting teacher who looks a bit like Jean Dujardin, is terrific as the Savonarola-like monk, and dominates the film from his entrance about a third of the way in. In any case, it's all impressively staged (some sets, but I suspect at least one actual baroque palace and park, a century or two off, is used as well), a genuine epic that makes good use of a cast of hundreds.

As I said, the image quality is outstanding; the score, by one Uwe Dierksen, is modernist and at times jarring, weaving from genre to genre like a drunken orchestra—but if some won't like it, I'm glad it was starkly modern and not a period score, as that would have made something cozy out of a film that ought to be calamitous and doomed.
“I'm in favor of plagiarism. If we are to create a new Renaissance, the government should encourage plagiarism. When convinced that someone is a true plagiarist, we should immediately award them the Legion of Honor.” —Jean Renoir

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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by cuzzoni » Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:21 am

All teed up (1930)

This was a very fun Charley Chase short. Very excited to see as I don’t remember ever seeing it. It did not disappoint. Starts with a great scene with Charley and Thelma Todd flirting at a soda shop. A little disappointed that Thelma wasn’t in this short more,was expecting to see her out on the golf course with Charley. Instead Charley drives the members of a golf club nuts destroys the place in the process. Near the end of the short, Charley utters a bit of a controversial phrase that I had heard about over the years. I listened to it carefully at least 10 times, and I’m sure he says “shinny sticks” and not what everybody would think he said. Even in 1930, I can’t imagine that other word would pass the censors.

Weekend was busy, so I didn’t find more time to watch the other shorts on the new Charley Chase set, but plan to watch at least one a day for the two weeks.

Craig

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Harlett O'Dowd
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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by Harlett O'Dowd » Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:58 am

OCTOBER: Ten Days that Shook the World (1928)

To give you an idea how long this film has been sitting in my "to view" pile, I should state that it's on a VHS tape.

I must have purchased it 20-25 years ago but never got around to it.

This film is Eisenstein's take on John (as in the Warren Beatty film REDS) Reed's book TEN DAYS THAT SHOOK THE WORLD. It is a docudrama of the October revolution in which the Bolsheviks seize control of St. Petersburg and overthrow the provisional (post-tsarist) government, firmly establishing communist rule in Russia.

If I read the opening crawl correctly, my VHS print is based on a 1938, tenth anniversary edition of the 1928 film (which was itself a tenth anniversary commemoration of the 1917 revolution.) As a result, the print has all the hallmarks of a sound-era reissue of a silent, gussied up to make things appear more "modern" (sound effects, generic crowd noises, etc.) If that sort of thing annoys you in other reissues (Chaplin's THE GOLD RUSH) you will be annoyed here. That said, the print also boasts a rousing score by Dimitri Shostakovich, which Wikipedia tells me was tacked on in 1966.

The film has all the hallmarks of an Eisenstein film, including big set pieces with lots of quick edits. .In this case, early in the film, we get a sequence, the Nevsky square/bridge confrontation, which rivals the Odessa Steps sequence in POTEMKIN.

The big difference between the two films, and OCTOBER's main issue, is a lack of any characters in OCTOBER who stay around long enough for us to care about them. The intended audience knew all the key players in the struggle and needed no dramatic structure to get them into the story. For foreign and modern audiences, that poses more of a challenge.

So, at the end of the day, the music was rousing and the visuals were arresting and often impressive. Scenes showing a statue of the tsar being toppled from its pedestal, in particular, made the visuals seem particularly au courrant. But I found the whole experience emotionally un-involving. Great soviet propaganda, but little else.

As a pallet cleanser, we also watched THE LITTLE FOXES (1941.) The film has only been on my DVR for a couple of months now, but I haven't seen the film in years. In fact, while I've seen it on stage a couple of times, I can't recall if I ever saw the film all the way through (at least in one sitting.) I won't bore you with the details, but I thoroughly enjoyed the evility.

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Daveismyhero
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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by Daveismyhero » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:05 am

Things went a little sideways with my plan, but I ended up watching a movie with my wife, instead of watching it solo. Unfortunately I couldn’t talk her into watching anything in black and white, much less silent. It ended up being a really foggy day, so we watched John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980). I hadn’t seen the movie in a really long time, and I thought it held up very well. I watched the new Shout Factory! Blu ray, and the picture looked great.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the film, the town of Antonio Bay, California, is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Unfortunately, the town was founded with money obtained under dubious circumstances, and the town is cursed. Now Captain Blake is out for revenge!

The film is rated R, although I’m guessing if it was released today it would probably be a PG-13 for violence and a tiny bit of gore. (Really tiny, especially considering it’s a Carpenter film!) My wife and I enjoyed the movie, so check it out if you need a little suspense in a creepy setting.
I am not a purist, I am a funist!

earlytalkiebuffRob
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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:28 pm

Harlett O'Dowd wrote:OCTOBER: Ten Days that Shook the World (1928)

To give you an idea how long this film has been sitting in my "to view" pile, I should state that it's on a VHS tape.

I must have purchased it 20-25 years ago but never got around to it.

This film is Eisenstein's take on John (as in the Warren Beatty film REDS) Reed's book TEN DAYS THAT SHOOK THE WORLD. It is a docudrama of the October revolution in which the Bolsheviks seize control of St. Petersburg and overthrow the provisional (post-tsarist) government, firmly establishing communist rule in Russia.

If I read the opening crawl correctly, my VHS print is based on a 1938, tenth anniversary edition of the 1928 film (which was itself a tenth anniversary commemoration of the 1917 revolution.) As a result, the print has all the hallmarks of a sound-era reissue of a silent, gussied up to make things appear more "modern" (sound effects, generic crowd noises, etc.) If that sort of thing annoys you in other reissues (Chaplin's THE GOLD RUSH) you will be annoyed here. That said, the print also boasts a rousing score by Dimitri Shostakovich, which Wikipedia tells me was tacked on in 1966.

The film has all the hallmarks of an Eisenstein film, including big set pieces with lots of quick edits. .In this case, early in the film, we get a sequence, the Nevsky square/bridge confrontation, which rivals the Odessa Steps sequence in POTEMKIN.

The big difference between the two films, and OCTOBER's main issue, is a lack of any characters in OCTOBER who stay around long enough for us to care about them. The intended audience knew all the key players in the struggle and needed no dramatic structure to get them into the story. For foreign and modern audiences, that poses more of a challenge.

So, at the end of the day, the music was rousing and the visuals were arresting and often impressive. Scenes showing a statue of the tsar being toppled from its pedestal, in particular, made the visuals seem particularly au courrant. But I found the whole experience emotionally un-involving. Great soviet propaganda, but little else.

As a pallet cleanser, we also watched THE LITTLE FOXES (1941.) The film has only been on my DVR for a couple of months now, but I haven't seen the film in years. In fact, while I've seen it on stage a couple of times, I can't recall if I ever saw the film all the way through (at least in one sitting.) I won't bore you with the details, but I thoroughly enjoyed the evility.
I take it that it was the shorter version of OCTOBER, which I seem to recall ran for about 90-100m in the cinema.

You may be interested to know that the 'prequel' to THE LITTLE FOXES, ANOTHER PART OF THE FOREST (1948) is on YT...

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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:04 pm

One of Phil Rosen's last credits was as co-director on a Canadian educational / exploitation pic called SINS OF THE FATHERS (1948), a film not mentioned in Rosen's checklist in 'Kings of the Bs'. Admittedly pretty roughly made (what do you expect?), this warning about the results of casual sex is reasonably watchable, despite a cast which was pretty well unknown to me.

Set in a small Canadian town, it features a crusading doctor, who is out to clear the place of its more unsavoury health hazards, and has already found trouble for his closure of a filthy eating establishment. He is further concerned with ridding the town of prostitutes, slums and other vices as well as trying to educate the population against the dangers of sexual diseases, particularly syphilis.

Amongst the familiar ingredients are a smear campaign (no pun intended) on the doctor's supposed sex life, a local trollop who is the daughter of an alderman and crook, a wishy-washy mayor who is in the main crook's pocket and the doctor's loose-living pal who doesn't seem to mind playing around. About three-quarters* of the way through the film stops for a showing of the film THE PRICE OF IGNORANCE for the main participants. This short (18m) includes a birth in detail, but I could find no mention of it, so am not sure if it was made as an insert (or 'square-up') for the film or if it was a film in its own right.

Despite a rough copy and its cheap and cheerful (aside from the subject matter) production values, SINS OF THE FATHERS is quite watchable, frank (for its time) and is another interesting example of 'submerged cinema' which is still ignored by the normal TV stations but is nevertheless worthy of study.

*47.55 min into the film, to be precise...

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Dean Thompson
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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by Dean Thompson » Mon Jan 29, 2018 4:40 pm

I had put myself down for Twenty-Four Eyes, only to discover this weekend that it had been checked out by a student (my sophomore advisee, in fact) writing a paper for an Intro to World Cinema course. So I came home and looked over my holdings, and there it was: Dodworth (1936), one of my favorite Wylers, not popped into my Sony since 2004, according to a post-it note inside.

The print itself made me realize how spoiled we’ve been by the slate of restorations on blu-ray: this one is quite scratchy, with contrast levels changing from scene to scene and even shot to shot—a shame, given that Rudolph Mate’s cinematography and Richard Day’s art direction deserve to be shown at their best.

I read the Sinclair Lewis novel some years ago and remember thinking that the film follows the book (and the 1934 Broadway adaptation by Sidney Howard) pretty closely. The cast—Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton, Mary Astor, Paul Lukas, Spring Byington, and two wet-behind-the-ears youngsters named David Niven and John Payne—is uniformly superb. Huston’s good-natured, shrewd, yet vulnerable Sam Dodsworth makes us feel his hurt, and Ruth Chatterton’s narcissistic Fran, shrewish and loud, sets up a perfect foil to Mary Astor’s quietly glowing Edith Cortwright. But for me, nothing matches the moment (spoiler alert) when Maria Ouspenskaya’s Baroness Von Obersdorf balefully glares at Chatterton and asks “Have you considered how little happiness there can be for the old wife of a young husband?” Ouspenskaya really should have won an Oscar for that coiled-spring performance: in a scant 7-8 minutes, she practically walks away with the film.

Left brain might assert that Dodsworth is a dated look at culture clashes and might add that there’s an element of sudser to Wyler’s delineation of the politics of aging. Right brain might nod briefly before rebutting that still and all, Dodsworth is old-style Hollywood at its best. Right brain wins, hands down. This is a wonderful film.

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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Mon Jan 29, 2018 5:53 pm

Very good turn out so far—remember, you have through tonight to post your entry, and I'll pick three, count em three winners tomorrow morning!
“I'm in favor of plagiarism. If we are to create a new Renaissance, the government should encourage plagiarism. When convinced that someone is a true plagiarist, we should immediately award them the Legion of Honor.” —Jean Renoir

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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by Jim Reid » Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:14 pm

I had planned on screening my print of WHAT PRICE GLORY? (1926) but it turned out to be a busier weekend than I had planned. Since I did have to test screen my print of I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG for next month's movie night, I decided to change to that film.

I hadn't seen this film in over 20 years, mainly because I was so affected by it. Paul Muni stars as James Allen, a restless WWI vet who leaves his job as a clerk to try to become an engineer. Having trouble finding work, he sinks into poverty and unwittingly becomes involved in a robbery. Sent to a prison chain gang, he is brutalized by sadistic guards. He's able to escape and makes his way to Chicago where he finds success in the construction industry. He becomes involved with a woman who learns his secret and blackmails him into marrying her. He then meets and falls in love with a woman and tells his wife that he is divorcing her. She calls the police on him. Since he's an upstanding citizen, the state where he escaped tells him if he surrenders that he will be pardoned. He takes the deal and finds that it was all a ruse to get him back in chains. The ending of the film is not any more uplifting than the rest, but is very moving. A film that should be seen, at least once.

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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by Agnes » Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:44 pm

Merry-Go-Round. 1923

Contains Spoilers

This was a film that started out in the hands of Erich von stroheim but as usual he was going over time and over budget and it got pulled from him and given to Rupert Julian who was the only director of credit. It is also listed that Erich von stroheim was the uncredited story and screenplay writer. The story very definitely has a Von Stroheim feel to it. It has the Rich Aristocrat wanting to go have some fun with the regular people. It has the poor girl falling for said Aristocrat not realizing what the situation will hold for her. It has the evil boss who has money and power and evil intentions going after this poor girl. And it has European expectations of the Aristocrat that he doesn't want to comply with once he realizes how wonderful the poor girl is. Definitely sounds like a Von Stroheim story.

So I need to mention that the main girl's name is Agnes. Might not mean much to you but other than the horse in Harold Lloyd the Milky Way and the youngest child in Despicable Me, but name is not a character in movies you barely even here at these days. So that made me smile.
As for Agnes in this film, she was portrayed by Mary Philbin, who's ever acting and swimming and gyrations or a little too much. Her acting was a bit over the top. That said, the others acting was quite good .
The film made sense....the Aristocrat is told to marry a Countess or else. He abandons Agnes & marries the Countess. Then WWI breaks out. He goes to war, & is listed as deceased. Agnes agrees to marry a kind fellow she has known for years, & things are turning out as they probably should for Agnes' best chance at happiness. Then comes the silly Hollywood ending. The count comes back says that his wife died in Budapest months ago and he wants Agnes back. And she goes to him and says that the bicycle villager she was going to marry send her back to him and the embrace..

It was a good film, but the silly Hollywood ending was inappropriate.

Agnes
Agnes McFadden

I know it's good - I wrote it myself!

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DavidWelling
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Re: 10th Annual Watch That Movie Night is January 26!

Unread post by DavidWelling » Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:30 pm

So I got six times the dose of Lloyd Hamilton this weekend with a new DVD collection of his shorts. They were all great to watch. It is a shame that he is not better known by the masses who think of silent comedy as only Chaplin, Lloyd, and Keaton. The real gem in this collection is HIS MUSICAL SNEEZE. The print, from the Danish Film Institute, is sharp and clear. The bonus is the chance to see Virginia Rappe. The circumstances of her death and the ensuing Roscoe Arbuckle trials overshadow the fact that she worked in the movies and her goal was not to become a newspaper scandal headline. Not much of her work remains, so it was good to see one of her performances.

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