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WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

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kingrat
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby kingrat » February 6th, 2014, 4:27 pm

Along the lines of what you have all said about the need to pay attention to silent movies: the critic Mark Harris has speculated, in a 1/14/14 article about the Oscar nominations, that the reason Robert Redford wasn't nominated for Best Actor in All Is Lost is that in this DVD screener era--where the voters receive lots of DVDs to catch up with movies they haven't seen--it was necessary to pay close attention to this one-man show, and therefore people who only saw the film on DVD missed out on much of Redford's performance.

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ChiO
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby ChiO » February 6th, 2014, 4:31 pm

Okay, I'll be the guy.

When there's dialogue, especially a conversation between two characters, we often stop watching the actors and just listen to them. Sometimes, we look at their surroundings, especially if it's an open air scene filmed in a recognizable setting (try watching "Vertigo" or "Breakfast at Tiffany's" without being distracted occasionally by the setting), but often we look away from the screen completely, because we know we won't miss anything.

On the other hand, with a silent looking away even briefly can cause us to miss an important gesture or look, so we avoid allowing ourselves to be distracted.

I tend to agree with the observation, but I'm hesitant to accept the conclusion that appears to be that there is something inherent in silent movies that requires more attention than sound movies.

We (including me) tend to fool ourselves into believing that just because there is audible dialogue, listening to it is sufficient..."Oh, I know what happened. I can hear it and that is telling me." No it's not. Mise-en-scene and gestures (aka acting) is important in sound films. That they're not, or that they're somehow diminished vis-a-vis silent film appears to be the conclusion when, instead, we should fault our own viewing habits. Given the rapture that many of us have expressed about, oh, how Ford characters enter a frame or how Alton can show inner turmoil by shutting off three-quarters of the light a scene might typically have, tells me that it's the quality that we attribute to a movie -- not the absence or use of sound -- that is determinative. Then there's...

The revolution in home viewing has probably contributed mightily to this phenomenon. If I walk out of the room during a Silent, I have nothing. If I walk out of the room during a Talkie, I may think I'm missing nothing, but I'm actually missing just as much. At a theater, I would never walk out (unless I have foolishly consumed to much liquid and the director has not adhered to Hitchcock's dictum regarding the endurance of the human bladder). Yes, it's that damnable "Pause" button.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.

Query: Does everyone behaviorally treat sub-titled movies as if they were Silent (oh, there's sound, but it's meaningless to me) or as the Sound movies that they are?
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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Robert Regan
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby Robert Regan » February 6th, 2014, 5:29 pm

I agree with everyone here, including you, Chio. Some talking pictures certainly require as much attention as a silent, as your examples demonstrate. The problem with sub-titled films can be just the same. Sometimes we are so concentrated on the dialogue as to miss some of that mise-en-scene or nuance. One of my favorite movies of 2013 Blancanieves is a silent from Spain, but it is not in any way a parody like some I won't mention. It is a contemporary film that uses both silent and modern techniques to tell the story of Snow White set in Spain during the twenties. I was delighted from beginning to end, and I think most of our friends here would like it, too. Netflix has it.

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby CineMaven » February 6th, 2014, 6:16 pm

JackFavell wrote:During the heydey of the silent film in the 20's, snacking was looked down on, maybe because the movie theaters were getting so fancy that the owners didn't want the litter from candy and popcorn spilled all over their sumptuous movie palaces.... but I think it's mainly because you really can't look away from the screen in order to stuff your hand in a bag of popcorn...

Do you mean to tell me that I couldn't bring this into a silent film? Well, I never...

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby CineMaven » February 7th, 2014, 6:55 am

Lucky Vassall wrote:Anyway bunching these silents as I did got me to thinking about something that should be obvious but came as a surprise to me: We pay more attention to a silent film than a talkie...What do you think, am I on to something?

You most certainly are onto something Lucky. ( Lovin' your Billy DeWolfe avatar. ) I think I have to agree with a little of what everybody wrote here. I think viewing a movie is two components of equal parts ( ha! and maybe even that depends ): listening AND watching. My recent experience happened with “Scarlet Street.” The third time was the charm. I've seen the movie maybe twice before. I liked the idea of a lethal lady, Joan Bennett being the cause of Edward G. Robinson's downfall. And I liked the idea of Joan Bennett, her dark beauty and insolence. I loved watching her machinations. But with TCM's most recent airing of the movie something really interesting happened to me. I was working on my computer ( yeah yeah roaming through FaceBook ) while having the movie on in the background and was mostly listening to the movie. I realized how cold and cruel Bennett and Duryea was as I listened to them. Why that didn't register with me before, I dunno. Blinded and distracted by their looks. I could really feel Robinson reaching for love...tortured by it. By the time the movie was ending, I had swivelled my chair around to watch. I came away from that "viewing" with a deeper understanding of it. That happened with me with “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Between Two Worlds” two movies I just listened to: ( one movie being long and complicated though I liked the pretty colors and the other slow and boring - “Why don’t they just get off that boat?!” ) I got a little more out of them by listening only.

I watched “La Bianchi Notte” a couple of months ago. I didn’t feel like reading sub-titles. I didn’t feel like working. I was laying in bed. I made myself watch it, and because I don’t know Italian I had to read. But I also got engrossed in watching. Waiting to see how this would play out. Would the young man get the girl? Is the girl really crazy and imagining this lover of hers? What’s going to happen?

Maybe “All About Eve” is a movie you can just listen to: crackling lines delivered with verve. Maybe you just have to watch the dazzling beauty of “The Last Emperor” where the culture, the costumes, the color are a feast for the eyes. The same way that children in school ‘learn’ differently from each other is probably the way we experience a movie. What actually is the experience of seeing “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” for the twentieth time? Are you even watching it or just making it a community party? What comes first...the chicken or the egg? What do you see first, someone’s race or their gender?

I still have a little something irrational against seeing “The Artist.” Maybe I need to put that aside and give it a chance. And for that matter, also check out “Blancanieves.” The important thing is to keep watching movies folks. And enjoy them in the way that’s best for you.
"You build my gallows high, baby."

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JackFavell
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby JackFavell » February 7th, 2014, 10:39 am

I think maybe as classic film buffs, a run through of a movie with only sound is a great exercise. I also think that a run through without sound is a great exercise. You can learn so much either way.

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Lucky Vassall
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby Lucky Vassall » February 7th, 2014, 2:55 pm

Kind words, CinMaven, Billy & I thank you.

I think you've hit a really important point: The reason true movie lovers watch the same films over and over while the rest think we're crazy to "waste your time watching something you've already seen." It certainly takes more than one viewing to fully appreciate great films. In fact, isn't that precisely what makes them great?

I like Jack Favell's suggestion of just listening to a film, too. I've often turned off the sound and just watched, but I'll certainly give this idea a fair chance. I suspect it will produce a greater respect for well=written dialogue.

As for "All About Eve," one of my top ten. I first ran into it as a teen reading the script. I had to keep putting the book down because I was laughing so hard. Yes, I think maybe that is the first one I'll give the "silent treatment" to.

And yes, I think "Last Emperor" (and just about every great film from China or Japan; think "Ran") is more watchable than listenable; or in my case, trying to watch both the pictures and the words at the same time.

I've only watched "Rocky Horror" once. For me, that was enough; although it might be different if I ever saw it with an audience instead of in my living room. On the other hand, I believe I've seen "Four Hundred Blows," another top ten, at least twice that "twentieth time" and hope to live long enough to double that total. Especially with the two really great commentary tracks on the Criterion DVD.
AVATAR: Billy DeWolfe as Mrs. Murgatroid, “Blue Skies” (1946)

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Fossy
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby Fossy » February 11th, 2014, 6:06 pm

Our Dancing Daughters (1928)

Diana (Joan Crawford) is a wild party goer, with many men pursuing her. She is also saving herself and will not give in to her men friends, despite appearances. Then she meets Ben,( Johnny Mack Brown) and it is love at first sight. Diana believes that Ben is about to propose.

Beatrice (Dorothy Sebastian) is Diana`s best friend. She also keeps men happy. Then she meets Norman (Nils Asther) . They fall in love. Norman wants to marry her, but she repeatedly refuses him. Eventually Norman pressures her into telling him why. She confesses her past, Norman still wants to marry her. So they wed. A group of old “friends” come calling. Norman orders them out, and after a row with Beatrice , walks out.

Ann (Anita Page) is mentored by her mother to get herself a rich husband. Freddie (Edward J. Nugent) wants to marry her and also “keeps her from the foggy foggy dew”. Coached by her mother she sets her sights on Ben. She tells Ben that she is not like those other girls. She does not drink or smoke, she is saving herself. She just wants to get married, have babies, and keep her husband happy. So Ben gives Diana the flick, and marries Ann, who keeps up her affair with Freddie. Ben comes home unexpectedly, and finds his wife in the arms of Freddie.

Diana, unable to stand the strain of watching Ben and Ann together decides to go to Europe for a year. A send off party is given in her honour. Freddie is going to the party, but feels he must dump a drunken Ann who may involve him in a scandal. But Ann also goes to the party. Ben is looking for his wife, meets Diana . They admit that they love one another, and Diana leaves for overseas.

Norman arrives and is reconciled with Beatrice. The drunken Ann falls down the stairs and is killed. After two years in Europe Diana returns to the waiting arms of Ben.

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JackFavell
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby JackFavell » February 11th, 2014, 6:34 pm

Did you like Our Dancing Daughters, Fossy?

When you post the plot summary, it sounds so implausible, but I find it a very enjoyable and believable film.

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Fossy
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby Fossy » February 12th, 2014, 3:51 am

JackFavell wrote:Did you like Our Dancing Daughters, Fossy?

When you post the plot summary, it sounds so implausible, but I find it a very enjoyable and believable film.


I enjoyed this film very much, although the death of Ann was a bit too convenient to be believable. The emotion displayed by Anita Page was brilliant. The movie was nominated for two Oscars.

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JackFavell
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby JackFavell » February 12th, 2014, 7:52 am

I really like Anita Page. She was splendid. Crawford too. I just like how things aren't exactly what they seem in the film, the good girl isn't so good, and the bad girl isn't so bad. And even Page isn't evil or heartless, though she makes her mistakes.

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Fossy
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby Fossy » February 15th, 2014, 4:20 am

Only Yesterday (1933)

Jim(John Boles) is a stockbroker, and when the market crashes he is broke. One of his friends has shot himself, and one has jumped out of the window. Now Jim has locked himself in his office, written a suicide note, and got out his revolver. He is seated at his desk and notices a letter.

He opens the letter and reads of the woman, Mary, (Margaret Sullavan) who loved him for two years. The letter tells her story and his, of how they met, of how she had loved him for two years prior to this night, how they made love, how his dispatch to ww1 came before they could meet again, and how she had given birth to his son.

On his return he was met by a few lady friends. Mary spoke to him, but he did not recognise her, so Mary was left to bring up her son . She went to live with her aunt Julia (Billie Burke) who loved her niece and was not concerned about a baby born out of wedlock.

Ten years later she is now a successful business woman who is devoted to her son and he to her. It is New Year`s eve and Mary goes to a New year`s eve party Jim is at the same party. They meet, leave together and go to his apartment where they spend the night.

She did not tell him her name and will not agree to meet him again. But Mary is ill and on the day of the stock market crash she dies. Now Jim is reading her letter.

He rushes to her but is too late. He meets and acknowledges his son.

This was Margaret Sullavan`s debut movie, and what a great performance.

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Jezebel38
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby Jezebel38 » February 15th, 2014, 1:11 pm

Fossy wrote:Only Yesterday (1933)
This was Margaret Sullavan`s debut movie, and what a great performance.


Hi Fossy - glad you got to see this first film of Margaret Sullavan. Some of us discussed this film a while back, in case you're interested:

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=5918&p=113396&hilit=only+yesterday#p113396

feaito

Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby feaito » February 16th, 2014, 8:18 pm

Fossy, You are so lucky. I have been looking for this film for years. How's the quality of the print you saw?


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