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WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

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Gagman 66
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Postby Gagman 66 » October 5th, 2008, 12:18 am

Fernando,

:o SMOULDERING FIRES deserves a proper DVD release. according to Kevin Brownlow a couple very good prints still exist. The one I sent you was the Sunrise Silents print, combined with my own freshly dubbed score of vintage tunes. This is a wonderful film. The three leads give superb performances, and Laura La Plante is just so darn cute! I would much rather see Kino come out with a nicely restored print of this film than them keep releasing newer version of the same few titles over and over all the time.

:roll: THE LAST WARNING another with Laura La Plante, in a very different role, also made at Universal and in Technicolor, is a film that deserves some serious consideration as well! It is a highly innovative mystery thriller.

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Ann Harding
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Postby Ann Harding » October 6th, 2008, 3:29 am

Yesterday I got to see a rare Mitchell Leisen, Behold My Wife (1933) with Sylvia Sidney, Gene Raymond, Juliette Compton and Ann Sheridan.
Michael Carter (G. Raymond) is the heir of a very snobbish and wealthy NY family. He falls in love with girls below his station to the furore of his parents. His latest girlfriend Mary White (a very young Ann Sheridan) is a stenographer and he intends to marry her. The family dispaches his sister (J. Compton) to deal with her. Poor Mary, in despair, believing the lies, throws herself through the window. Michael upon learning the news, leaves his family promising them a nasty revenge. He lands in a small town in the Midwest where he meets Tonita Storm Cloud (S. Sidney), an Indian girl. He decides to marry her and bring her back to NY in full Indian regalia...
The script of the film is unfortunately fairly uneven. The beginning is brilliant with Sheridan's suicide. Dear Ann is so young, you can hardly recognise her, but her deep voice in unmistakable. What was so far, a melodrama, becomes a screwball comedy with the arrival of S. Sidney in a very snobbish party organised by Michael's parents (Laura Hope Crews and H.B. Warner). Some of her replies are so witty, it's hilarious! :lol: But, alas, the twists and turns of the plot are just too numerous to be believable. Still, some scenes in this film are brilliantly performed by Sidney. The supporting cast is top-notch with Eric Blore as the butler, Monroe Owsley as the usual alcoolic cad. I saw a fairly good 16 mm print of this film. An amusing feature. :)

I finished watching James Cruze's Old Ironsides (1928) with C. Farrel, W. Beery, G. Bancroft and Esther Ralston.
As usual with Cruze, we get a top-notch recreation of the past: here sone stunning naval battles with some enormous XVIIIth century frigates that look life-size! :shock: The cast is extremely prestigious as you can see. Wallace Beery and George Bancroft are both providing comic relief with quite a bit of ham! Charles Farrel plays the usual innocent bewitched by Esther Ralston. A very handsome looking picture, even if the characters are on the slim side. Thanks Jeffrey! :D

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traceyk
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Postby traceyk » October 6th, 2008, 8:02 pm

Finally got around to watching all the movies I'd DVR'd. A couple of them made me go Hmmm, though: A Notorious Affair and Secrets. I watched the first for Kay Francis, who was amazingly butch in her role as the Countess and the second because I'd never seen PIckford in a talkie. Neither film worked for me, I think because both the leading ladies were way too old for their roles.

I realize that Pickford made an entire career playing roles that were too young for her, and did it well in silents, but it just didn't work in Secrets, especially in the beginning scenes when she's supposed to be a young girl. (Though the scene where Howard undresses her and she's wearing about 10 petticoats is very funny) Later, her more mature looks work better, but at the beginning, she looks almost as silly as Dietrich playing the 16-year-old Princess Sophia in Scarlet Empress.

I've never seen Billie Dove in anything else, but her wide eyed, cupid-bow mouthed, blinking little girl face was just totally out of style for the film, I think. Kay Francis's preditory countess felt much more modern and right for the times.
"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. "~~Wilde

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Gagman 66
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Postby Gagman 66 » October 6th, 2008, 11:35 pm

traceyk,

:o I must respectfully disagree. I thought Billie Dove was amazingly good in A NOTORIOUS AFFAIR (1930), and had a very lovely speaking voice. I was enchanted with her voice graceful movements and gestures. In-fact the the film left me screaming for more Billie Dove, and several people on the TCM forum felt the same way. I refuse to accept that sound killed her career. Basil Rathbone as the Husband, was horrible in this early roll. Billie was way better than him.

:? I also thought that SECRETS (1933) was amazingly good for Pickford's final film, and that she still looked quite, quite beautiful The main-title theme was especially memorable, I was very happy to see a crisp new print of this movie. Would sure enjoy seeing a restored version of the original Silent version with Norma Talmadge sometime.

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Ann Harding
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Postby Ann Harding » October 7th, 2008, 2:49 am

I also watched Frank Borzage's Secrets (1933) yesterday. So far, I had only seen a pretty bad fuzzy print. It's such a pleasure to see it looking so crisp and beautiful! :)
Unlike Traceyk, I think it is among Frank Borzage's best pictures. Particularly the the middle section of the film that takes place in the West when Howard and Pickford are attacked by cattle thieves. The film becomes almost expressionist with large shadows. And the heartbreaking scene when she clutches her dead baby...I like very much the fact that the film starts as a comedy with Howard undressing his future bride, becomes a drama/western and then goes back to comedy in the very last scene when the elderly couple goes West again! :) I think Pickford gives a very good performance throughout so does Howard. An excellent picture! :D Thanks Jeffrey. :wink:

drednm

Postby drednm » October 7th, 2008, 4:54 am

Ann Harding we agree! SECRETS is a hugely underrated film and yes Mary Pickford is terrific. As with COQUETTE, she's really too old for the part but she looks great (and always did). And Leslie Howard is always a pleasure to watch.

When talkies came in and Pickford determined once and for all to shed her "little Mary" image, she seemed unable to select solid vehicles. In 1929 at age 37 she debuted in COQUETTE, a rather creaky stage vehicle (for Helen Hayes) but Pickford (and Johnny Mack Brown) is simply terrific despite being 15 years too old for the part (she looks terrific) and a wavering accent. She won an Oscar.

Next up was THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, which is uneven. Pickford fairs better than Fairbanks but neither seems especially suited to the Shakespearean language. I believe the film made money but was not a "hit" in the usual manner of a Pickford or Fairbanks film.

In 1930 she's listed for something called FOREVER YOURS, a film I know nothing about. Was it completed? Is it lost?

Then Pickford made what seemed to be an inspired choice: a remake of the Norma Talmadge comedy, KIKI. While I find this film to be a total delight, it was a scene-for-scene remake of Talmadge's 1926 film. Then in 1933 came SECRETS, which Talmadge had made in 1924.

What I find odd here is that although Pickford is IMO very VERY good in these 2 final films, the fact that she seemed to stop looking forward and returned to old vehicles that had been hits for an already forgotten silent star (Talmadge's last film flopped in 1930) seems to imply she really had no way to judge the film audiences of the early 30s. She was determined (and rightly so) not to reprise "little Mary," but she also stopped seeking out new material. I have copies of these Talmadge films but haven't watched them yet.

Pickford was only 41 in 1933. What a huge loss that she lost confidence and stopped making films after KIKI and SECRETS flopped.

Pickford's KIKI cost around $800,00 and grossed only $425,000. This must have been a huge blow to her because her films almost NEVER lost money. SECRETS did better, costing around $530,000 and earning just under $700,000.

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Gagman 66
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Postby Gagman 66 » October 7th, 2008, 12:38 pm

Christine,

:) OLD IRONSIDES (1926) was originally filmed in some sort of early Wide-screen process called "Magna-scope". Or at least the Battle sequences were. This is a lovely print, and another Paramount Silent that few people ever get to see.

:roll: I would like to know what other films of James Cruze still survive today besides this one, the Arbuckle feature LEAP YEAR, THE COVERED WAGON, THE PONY EXPRESS, and THE MATING CALL? According to Kevin Brownlow very nice prints of THE PONY EXPRESS still exist. But my copy looks like it has been run over with a Bakery truck.

8) I agree that SECRETS is a fine film, and now that it has been restored, maybe Milestone will put this one out on DVD soon? Next year, marks 30 years since Mary Passed away in 1979. They are releasing a new restoration of SPARROWS with a freshly compose score by Jeffrey Mark Silverman. This film was just restored in 2006.

drednm

Postby drednm » October 7th, 2008, 2:09 pm

Jeff have you watched the Norma Talmadge version of SECRETS yet? I still haven't gotten to it.....

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charliechaplinfan
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Postby charliechaplinfan » October 7th, 2008, 3:24 pm

I think Mary Pickford is great in Secrets, OK she's too old to be a teenager but with Mary is really doesn't matter. Perhaps she ended with this film because she was so good in it, perhaps she felt like she didn't have another great film in her or the scripts weren't around for her to make another great film and she left on the up.

I disagree about Taming of the Shrew, to me Doug came off far better than Mary, but he played Petruchio in his usual Fairbanks way. MAry had rather more work to do to become shrewish.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

drednm

Postby drednm » October 7th, 2008, 7:16 pm

CCfan.... I agree that Pickford was ageless but probably audiences in 1933 didn't thinks so after hundreds of films over 20 years... I've never seen a Pickford performance I didn't like.

Funny about TAMING OF THE SHREW... I though Fairbanks looked especially old and tired and maybe even bored. He had a few good moments but he just didn't age as well as Pickford. I think with better advisors, Pickford could have transitioned into a great star of the 30s but maybe she just didn't care all that much, especially when her marriage to Fairbanks began to unravel...

In the Pickford biographies I've read, they always paint Mary as an amazingly insecure performer... it just seems so unbelievable. Pickford transcended time.

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Gagman 66
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Postby Gagman 66 » October 7th, 2008, 7:32 pm

Ed,

:) No, I have not seen the Silent version of SECRETS yet, but I did see KIKI. Norma Talmadge made mostly drama's didn't she? This is an outrageous comedy.

drednm

Postby drednm » October 7th, 2008, 8:42 pm

It was a rare comedy for Norma Talmadge and a hit....

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rogerskarsten
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Postby rogerskarsten » October 8th, 2008, 5:26 am

Hello again, everyone, it's been a while since I've checked in. I'm living in Berlin (Germany) now until next summer, and am excited about the silent film screenings that are taking place here in the city.

Last night I went to see DAS CABINET DES DR. CALIGARI at the "babylon" theatre. I had seen this one before (on a bad video, and also live in a theatre), but I was much more impressed with it this time around. It was a real treat to be able to see the German print, without English intertitles or subtitles. Stephan von Bothmer did the score on a synthesizer (he also composed the score to MADAME DUBARRY which was shown on arte last spring), and it was mostly quite good. There was a large audience, too, mostly of young people which is always encouraging!

I think what especially struck me about the film this time was the idea of repetition and return. The carnival sets are probably the most-used in the film, and it's interesting how the characters always take the same path when they venture to Caligari's tent and wagon. After a while, this path becomes very familiar also to the viewer, who is led into the dream along with the characters. This idea of return is also implicit in the framing device -- we return to the same place at the end where we were at the beginning. In fact, we never left.

I'm sure many of you have seen this film in one form or another, since it's considered an exemplary work of German expressionist film. I discovered a new appreciation for it last night!

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Gagman 66
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A Kiss For Cinderella (1925)

Postby Gagman 66 » October 8th, 2008, 10:07 pm

:) Last night, thanks to Angie, I finally got to see another one of my long time Most wanted Silents. Herbert Brennon's A KISS FOR CINDERELLA (Paramount, 1925), with Betty Bronson, Tom Moore, and Esther Ralston. Renowned film historian, William K. Everson has described this picture as one of the great films of the Silent Era.

:oops: I must say Miss Bronson made a sharp leap up my list of great Silent Screen Beauties. In-fact, I am tempted to bump either Camilla Horn, or Vilma Banky from my Top 10, and replace them with Betty after seeing this picture.

8) Ralston was already on my list, and as the Fairy-Godmother, served to re-enforce her number 8 ranking. This may have been the first time I have seen Tom Moore? He looked allot like Lon Chaney's younger brother, and even acted like him.

:) The print was much better than I expected. I will need to add a score sometime, as this DVD-R contained no music. I had heard that this film was in dismal shape, but I was pleasantly surprised in that only about a half a reel had any serious nitrate damage. The print overall was quite good. What a lovely enchanting film. It would be wonderful to see this movie restored, and put out on DVD like PETER PAN (1924) has previously been.

:roll: The story takes place not in Medieval Europe, but rather in England during the First World War. When we first see Bronson, she is quite frumpy, but my goodness does that change. Betty was a tiny, tiny thing, but a staggeringly beautiful woman. I had really only seen her in PETER PAN, and not much else. Relatively hard to believe that it is even the same person.

:shock: In PETER PAN I thought Mary Brian had been the most beautiful, even over Esther Ralston, and Anna May Wong. Of course it was pretty hard to get a read on Betty Bronson. The photo's I have found of her looked quite remarkable though.

:roll: Tom Moore is Dan a hired Police-officer/Detective determined to discover if the abandoned Cinderella is actually a lady of culture and breeding, or just another drudge? Indeed perhaps worse? A German Spy! For She speaks the sworn Enemies language fluently!

8) When she swipes a sign from her former employer, He is also hell bent to catch her with the goods. In a hilarious scene, the clean shaven Moore enters into the shelter disguised as the spitting image of Rasputin the Mad Monk! He asks for a shave! Cinderella is more than moderately intimidated! Before long though, Dan is totally Smitten with his suspect, and quickly forgets his duty, as amazing. and unexpected facts swiftly come to light.

:D Winsome Cinderella goes from Scullery-maid to a fix whatever ails you Penny store matron. She takes in stray Orphan's like most folks do washing, Each with a unique hair-cut, one looks like a baby Colleen Moore! She has to big a heart for her own good, or pocketbook.

:( The Poor girl is all about Sacrifice, but she holds on to a fervent hope that her day will indeed come. Or at least Her night anyway. She will finally snare her Prince at the royal ball. One glance at her dainty little feet, is all it will take to win his unsuspecting heart!

:wink: The Prince's Ball is an amazing sequence, and lo suitor's', that don't know the answer to the sacred riddle are executed immediately! The King also places a premium on body temperature, specifically to high. This had me rolling! I will write a more extensive review of this picture at a later date.
Last edited by Gagman 66 on October 8th, 2008, 11:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

moviemagz
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Postby moviemagz » October 8th, 2008, 11:29 pm

I watched ROMANCE OF THE REDWOODS and I have the say this is the worst film I have ever seen Mary Pickford in. It was very boring and a very unappealing plot ( Mary falling in love with a thief who essentially is her capturor). I just got the Charley Bowers DVD set so I'm watching a few of those shorts.

When TCM did a birthday tribute to Una Merkel last year I recorded most of them and can't believe I am just starting to watch some of them, ten months later but then like most movie buffs, I have countless films that I've yet to watch once.


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