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WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

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

Postby charliechaplinfan » December 8th, 2009, 4:12 pm

I wish Susan Lenox would come out on DVD, it's worth it just for the stars.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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

Postby MichiganJ » December 9th, 2009, 3:31 pm

Watched a couple of Thelma Todd silent films.

Nevada: a serviceable B western with an A budget, Gary Cooper plays the "bad guy" (black hat and all), who turns good (white hat and all). Thelma Todd is the sister of an English ranch owner, and she gives the Coop a hard time but soon falls for him. The ranch is having trouble with rustlers, and it's up to the Coop to figure out who is tipping off the rustlers by infiltrating their gang (black hat again). Is it a spoiler to say that William Powell also stars?

It's fascinating seeing the Coop in a lead role in a silent film. His performance is as deliberate and nuanced as his talkie films, in no way is it pantomime, yet you can't take your eyes off of him. Todd, too, is quite good (although she looked a great deal like Barbara Stanwyck to me, for some reason.)

Seven Footprints to Satan: a terrific old dark house mystery/comedy, similar to (but better than) The Cat and the Canary, which also shares Creighton Hale in a comparable role. Directed by Benjamin Christensen, this unique Hollywood film does feature plenty of his, um, eccentricities, which were missing entirely in the other Hollywood film of his I've seen, Mockery. There's more of the wackiness as he showed in Häxan on display here. There's a gorilla, a dwarf (who pops in and out of hidden doors at opportune times), a cripple, assorted maidens in various forms of dress, etc,. and they all seem to be leading Hale and Todd to participate in their Satantic orgy. It's very pre-code!

The titles are in Italian, (of which I can only speak "Olive Garden"), but it is very easy to follow and quite a ride. Thelma Todd is gorgeous (and wears an evening gown with a neck cut way down to there).
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby myrnaloyisdope » December 10th, 2009, 12:13 am

Ironically I just watched Seven Footprints to Satan last night. I'm not really sure what to make of it. Interesting to be sure, it reminded me of Vampyr quite a bit, but I wasn't sure what to do with comedy aspects of it. It's my first introduction to the old dark house/comedy 'genre', so maybe that's the reason I'm confused. It was weird and surreal but I think it would have worked better as a straight horror, rather than have the comedy bits. Something about dwarves, men in gorilla suits, and bumbling satanists just screams B-movie to me, and I suppose that works, but I guess I was expecting something darker given the tone of Haxan, and the clips I've seen of Christensen's earlier work.

I think the crummy quality of the print hindered my enjoyment too.
"Do you think it's dangerous to have Busby Berkeley dreams?" - The Magnetic Fields

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

Postby charliechaplinfan » December 11th, 2009, 4:08 pm

I read Hot Toddy a couple of weeks ago, I knew it was going to concentrate on her demise, I was dissappointed that her films weren't mentioned, an oversight on behalf of the author, however she does come across as a thoroughly nice woman who kept unfortunate company.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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

Postby feaito » December 11th, 2009, 7:17 pm

Thanks to the kindness of Kevin I was able to watch "Murders in the Zoo" (1933) an engrossing Horror-Murder-Drama with Lionel Atwill as a megalomaniac millionaire madly in love with his unfaithful wife, portrayed by "Panther Woman" Kathleen Burke (from "Island of Lost Souls" (1933) another great chiller released by Paramount). Miss Burke had a very feline, exotic, unique, kind of beauty. Charlie Ruggles is the comic relief in this somber and moody picture. An unrecognizable Gail Patrick, playing a good natured girl and not the typical high society b-tches she used to portray afterwards, is in love with a good natured doctor portrayed by Randy Scott. Beautiful settings and art direction. There's an incredible scene in which animals are let loose by Atwill and my wife and I were amazed by how it was done. Jane Darwell is featured in a dinner scene as a society matron.

I also saw "Operator 13" (1934) (Thanks Ollie), an entertaining film starring Marion Davies, which definitely demonstrates that she was better suited to comedy than to heavy-handed drama. In the comedic scenes she sparks 100%. Interesting but rather flawed in certain ways, especially towards the ending, because the conclusion is too abrupt and rather contrived. Gary Cooper co-stars and Katharine Alexander has a noteworthy role as a spy.

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

Postby silentscreen » December 14th, 2009, 8:05 pm

I finally got to see Tess of the Storm Country, which I've wanted to see for years based on the reviews I've read. I was not disappointed-it is now my favorite Pickford film along with Daddy Long Legs. Mary's natural charm before the camera was a real love affair between actress and media, and you can see why at one point she was the most famous woman in the world.

The plot may be a bit old fashioned and predictable, but that doesn't stop you from enjoying the sentimentality and sweetness of the story, or the fine job done by all the actors, including handsome Lloyd Hughes and his real life wife Gloria Hope, here playing his sister, and the complete moral decay of the villian played by Jean Hersholt. Plus Mary has really nice chemistry with Lloyd Hughes. You realize that having Christian values isn't always easy, but that giving to others and self sacrifice brings a satisfaction that selfishness never does. I teared up at the end in a way that I almost never do! :)

Nine out of ten stars in my book!
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby charliechaplinfan » December 15th, 2009, 1:09 pm

I'm very fond of Tess of the Storm Country too, I'm glad you enjoyed it silentscreen :wink:
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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

Postby JackFavell » December 15th, 2009, 2:26 pm

The Oyster Princess!

Lubitsch's whipped confection of timeless ideas about big business, new money, down-on-their-luck royalty, dance crazes, marriage and the nature of love. This film goes by so quickly, it is like gobbling up a meringue. Two seconds on the tongue and it fizzes away....leaving a sweet memory behind.

The incredibly saucy and charming Ossi Oswalda has the starring role, and somehow makes you like the spoiled little rich girl who is the whirlwind at the center of the plot.

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Taking a bath, while her prince charming waits......and waits.....

I don't know why I am even bothering to write anything here, because these early Lubitsch comedies simply have to be seen to be believed. Ossi is the Oyster Princess, daughter of the Oyster King - a business magnate who has servants who do everything for him - one man is hired just to wipe his nose! They are new money, wealthy beyond anyone's wildest dreams. Ossi smashes an entire room full of vases, just because she can. She has a kind of pre-flapper energy, but is a bit on the boorish side, like her father. Meanwhile, her debonair prince Nucki (I would love to know if this name has the meaning I think it does) lives in squalor, borrowing money from his dapper but caddish friends. His plight is to have a title and good looks, but no wealth. He is poor but devil may care and sends his best friend to check out Ossi, who has commanded his presence, because it is the fashionable thing to marry a prince. Mistaken identity ensues. The friend and the oyster princess marry (in something akin to a drive-thru marriage ceremony), and a huge wedding party is hastily gotten together. The hapless pretender, Nucki's best friend, spends all his time eating and getting drunk, which irritates Ossi no end. Such is Lubitsch's view of marriage, especially if it is to the wrong person.

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There are servants everywhere in this picture, the logistics of maneuvering them alone would have made any other director weep. Lubitsch choreographs them with the precision of an intricate german cuckoo clock, the ones with the little figurines that twirl about, never running into one another. The story takes place in 4 acts, and is basically a very long, convoluted yiddish joke. I loved it. No wonder the Germans have a street named after Lubitsch, and revere him above all other filmmakers.

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

Postby silentscreen » December 15th, 2009, 7:53 pm

charliechaplinfan wrote:I'm very fond of Tess of the Storm Country too, I'm glad you enjoyed it silentscreen :wink:


I did Alison,thanks! I need to catch up on my Pickford.:)

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

Postby myrnaloyisdope » December 17th, 2009, 4:14 am

I haven't watched Tess of the Storm Country, I'd like to watch the 1914 version first though (pm if you have a copy).

I've watched quite a few silents the past couple of weeks, so here are some thoughts:

Afgrunden (1910) - Very early Danish feature directed by Urban Gad, and starring Asta Nielsen. I was quite impressed by this film, it's quite advanced for the era, and Nielsen is quite obviously a great talent. Nielsen plays a bored society woman who leaves the comfort and sterility of her pending marriage in order to run off with a charming and adventurous actor. Of course things turn sour, because the actor is a creep, but the finale is excellent, and quite surprising. A huge contrast from Griffith style melodrama. There's also a really sexy sequence with Nielsen which is even pretty salacious now, it can be viewed here

Un coeur fidele (1923) - A lovely Jean Epstein melodrama, that I watched twice in one day, once on my laptop with English subtitles, and then at a screening without subtitles. God bless Montreal. The camera work is very striking, and the film is filled with avant-garde flourishes. I enjoyed Epstein's subversion of the melodrama through these flourishes, and through a really striking epilogue. A wonderful film, that makes me want to check out more Epstein.

The Kiss (1929) - Garbo's last silent, and one of Jacques Feyder's few Hollywood films, it's pretty hokey but still watchable. It was cool to see an impossibly boyish Lew Ayres pre-AQOTWF. Pure hokum, but the print looked lovely.

Die Freudlose Gasse (1925) - Garbo's second starring role, also featuring Asta Nielsen, and helmed by G.W. Pabst. Well this one is a doozy, the newly restored print looks marvellous, and has me tempted to shell out big bucks to get the German Filmmuseum DVD. It's a fascinating and bleak depiction of the inflation era Vienna, that feels achingly real at times. The exploration of the mechanations that lead to personal degradation and corruption are wonderfully executed, with the poor serving as pawns for the rich, be they stockbrokers or shopowners. Garbo is magnetic, and though Nielsen is a bit too old for her part she is still a presence. This film is a keeper.

The Freshman (1925) - Well I'm a big Harold Lloyd booster and I've loved just about everything I've seen by him, but this film was somewhat of a disappointment. I found the film slow to get rolling, and there weren't any real standout gags to justify the slow build, and although the climax in the big game is pretty fun, it never reaches the dizzying heights I've come to expect. I suppose I found the story less than satisfactory...I couldn't really understand why Lloyd's character was being ridiculed, I mean he's a nice guy, loves the school, and he's got ton of heart, so I couldn't understand why he was seen as such a boob. Plus his character wasn't nerdy or weak, or socially awkward, he was just a bit delusional about what college was really like. It just didn't ring true.

So This Is Paris (1926) - I finally got to watch this Lubitsch gem with the original English intertitles (my older copy has Italian intertitles, that I translated using google translator, leading to a ton of clunky phrasing and occasional gibberish), and a nicely composed score. The intertitles are really witty and add a lot to the film. It's a relationship farce on par with The Marriage Circle, with fun performances by Monte Blue, and Lilyan Tashman, and bunch of great flourishes. Plus I finally spotted Myrna as a maid at the night club...Woohoo!

The Three Musketeers (1921) - I've now seen about 4 Douglas Fairbanks pictures, and I must say they don't do a whole lot for me. Fairbanks himself is quite good, but I've found his films eschew Fairbanks and action for excess backstory. The score was pretty crummy too, so it lulls one into indifference, save for the sequences of Fairbanks doing stunts. But sadly there is hardly any stuntwork at all in this one.

The Three Must-Get-Theres (1923) - I watched this immediately after the Fairbanks picture, and it was alright, more misses than hits as far as gags go, but it was interesting to see an early parody film. The Max Linder shorts I've seen are excellent, and he has his moments here, but it's hard to see how this fits in with Linder's persona. I did like the gags with the telephones, and motorcycles though.
"Do you think it's dangerous to have Busby Berkeley dreams?" - The Magnetic Fields

feaito

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

Postby feaito » December 19th, 2009, 5:34 pm

Thanks to Kevin I watched one of the most touching tributes I've ever seen in my life: "The AFI Salute to Lillian Gish" (1984). I have to admit that I have a weakness for Miss Gish, because I have the highest opinion of her as an actress and as a person. One of the finest human beings that ever existed in Tinseltown. The Tribute is full of moving moments and heartfelt speeches (Jennifer Jones, Mary Martin, Colleen Moore, Jeanne Moreau, Richard Thomas, Lily Tomlin, John Huston, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. et al). An unforgettable evening for sure!

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

Postby myrnaloyisdope » December 20th, 2009, 7:29 pm

L'argent (1928) - Maurice L'Herbier's acclaimed adaptation of the Emile Zola novel. I had high expectations for this one, and was a bit disappointed, the film has grandiose aspirations, but never quite reaches them. The film is massive, with wonderfully lavish sets, distinctive camerawork and very strong performances, but something just didn't click like I was hoping. That being said it's a strong film, and the 165-minute running time breezes buy. Pierre Alcover is compelling as the amoral financier Saccard, while Brigitte Helm is lovely as the wife of Saccard's business partner Hamelin played by Henry Victor (he played the villainous strongman in Freaks). I suppose the problem with the film lies in the fact that for all the grandiosity of the filmmaking, the story is pretty small, it's essentially Alcover trying to maneuver his way into the heart of Helm, while also maneuvering the stock market to his favor. The film focuses almost entirely on those 3 characters and would make for a compelling and intimate production, but instead is blown up to a much larger scale that it needs. I will add that the Masters of Cinema DVD of this is marvellous, with a brilliant restoration and score, and a bunch of extras including Jean Dreville's Autour de l'argent a 1929 documentary reputed to be the first ever making-of doc. Plus the disc is region free.

Der Golem (1920) - Early German horror film with Paul Wegener as the Golem, the giant clay figure come to life of Jewish folklore. Really fascinating film, with some great expressionistic flourishes, and a compelling story. Wegener is great as the Golem, his performance really sets the template for Boris Karloff's Frankenstein. From the movements and gestures, to the ability to emote with emoting (hard to explain, but somehow both Karloff and Wegener are ability to bring oceans of emotional depth and humanity to their characters despite the inhibitions of their respective costumes), it's really hard to imagine what Frankenstein would look like on screen without Der Golem. Really cool film.

The Man Who Laughs (1928) - Paul Leni and Conrad Veidt's late era silent horror. A great performance by Veidt as the disfigured clown with aristocratic blood. He's genuinely demented looking, I'm curious how he could keep his face like that. I really liked the set design as well, really dark and atmospheric, it seemed every shot took place at night. Mary Philbin is quite warm as Veidt's blind lover, and I enjoyed Olga Baclanova's cynical duchess, it's a shame she didn't get more screen time. It thought her interest in Veidt's character could have been played out more. I am saddened to just find out that Leni died in 1929, it seems like he could have done a lot of great work. It's amazing to think that at one point Hollywood was grabbing the best talent from all over and just handing them the keys and saying "alright, make something great". I think late 1920's Hollywood is among the richest periods in all of cinema, so much talent and artistry combined with full studio support.

Prisoner of Zenda (1922) - My first Rex Ingram, this is a fun one, much better paced than the Fairbanks pics of the same style. I kept thinking the lead looked an awful lot like Ronald Colman, and though it's Lewis Stone (seemingly a million years removed from Judge Hardy) in the lead, I can see why Colman ended up playing the lead in the talkie version. It was interesting to see Ramon Novorro as a villain, he pulls it off, and I can see why this is the film that brought him stardom. He is very charismatic and charming, but manages to project a bit of menace too.

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) - My second Rex Ingram, I really enjoyed this one too, it's engaging from the start. Valentino of course is the main draw, and it's a starmaking performance. He's charismatic yet restrained (none of his crazy smiling ala The Sheik), and the tango scene is iconic. I'm a sucker for WWI pictures, so that was my main interest in watching this one, and it was an interested take. Much better than John Ford's Four Sons, in depicting the family split into opposing sides by the conflict. It does get a bit heavy-handed with it's portrayal of the Germans as warmongers - heck even as kids the German sons are playing war. But I liked the unrelenting bleakness of it, and the religious overtones.

Miss Lulu Bett (1921) - One of William C. de Mille's few extant films, this one knocked my socks off. The contrast in styles between the De Mille brothers is immense, I like the Kevin Brownlow quote: "his style was as different from Cecil's as a miniaturist's from an epic painter". It's a lovely, intimate little film about a Lulu Bett's (Lois Wilson) quest for a life of her own apart from her oppressive and domineering family. Wilson gives a dynamic performance filled with nuance and emotion, she is really impressive. The plot mechanations are simple and realistic, and everything moves in a logical progression. Nothing is overblown or melodramatic. All the while de Mille's direction is sharp and lively but never overstated. How the two brothers could have come from the same womb is a great mystery.
"Do you think it's dangerous to have Busby Berkeley dreams?" - The Magnetic Fields

feaito

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

Postby feaito » December 20th, 2009, 8:54 pm

Wow Justin :shock: , you've been watching some very unique features!

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

Postby Ann Harding » December 24th, 2009, 10:47 am

Image
After spending months typing out my French translation of The Parade's Gone By..., I have now reach the end. I can now go out to see films on a big screen. 8)
Yesterday, they showed The Cold Deck (1917) by and with Wm S. Hart, a rare feature at the Cinémathèque.
I went and I am glad I did. It was a marvellous western beautifully conceived, as usual with Hart.
We are in a gold-mining town in the West. Jefferson Leigh (Wm S. Hart) earns his living as a gambler, until one day, his little sister Alice (Mildred Harris) turns up. She is very sick and needs treatment. He takes her up in the high sierras in a log cabin. But in this small place, Jefferson is wooed by the local saloon dancer, the lethal Coralie Mendoza (Alma Rubens). As he doesn't reply to her advances, she takes on a nasty revenge: he loses all his money during a game of poker where the cards have been tricked. His sister is on the verge of dying and needs a doctor. He has no money and decides to attack the stagecoach to get some...
For once, Hart didn't spend that much time riding a horse, but he was surrounded by no less than three leading ladies, Mildred Harris looking like L. Gish in Birth of a Nation; Alma Rubens as the smouldering femme fatale and Sylvia Bremer as the local ingenue. Hart was splendid as usual, playing the fallen Southern gentleman turned gambler. He even showed some emotions as he collapsed in tears besides his sister's dead body. The end was brilliant with a final stunt where Hart slides down a slope on his dead horse. As usual, he shows also what a great director he was in building up the characters with great care. The film was shot in stunning locations in a redwood forest area (probably California). The film is not absolutely complete as about 200ft have decomposed. But beside this, I don't think anything else is missing. Oh My! That was enjoyable!!!! :D

feaito

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

Postby feaito » December 25th, 2009, 9:44 am

It sounds like a great film Christine. I would like to see more films of Bill S. Hart.


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