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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 » January 17th, 2010, 4:19 pm

You really sell the film, the screenshots are gorgeous.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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

Postby charliechaplinfan » January 18th, 2010, 6:54 am

I've been making my way through the Borzage and Murnau at Fox box set. I watched the next disc in the collection, Song o My Heart starring John McCormack, Fox paid McCormack a huge salary to appear before the movie cameras and Borzage was assigned to direct him. McCormack was a well known Irish singer and the film is really just a showcase of his talents, one would think that John Ford was the best man for the job as part of it was filmed in Dublin. It's very sweet in part and marks the screen debut of Maureen O'Sullivan discovered by Borzage in the Abbey Players of Dublin. However McCormack's style isn't really mine, it was intersting as a curio but didn't strike the chord with me.

I've left fuller reviews on the thread dedicated to this series. I've enjoyed every single one of the silents. So impressed it makes me mourn their passing. Lucky Star was a revelation to me, it was the only one I hadn't seen and now is one of my favorites.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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

Postby drednm » January 18th, 2010, 11:28 am

I re-watched Mickey, the 1918 smash hit starring Mabel Normand. Episodic and confusing at times, still Normand is terrific. She had the perfect face for silent films with those big expressive eyes. She's also a terrific comedienne.

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

Postby charliechaplinfan » January 18th, 2010, 2:50 pm

I watched Liliom from the Fox boxset, rarely does it happen that I prefer a Hollywood production to a French one but the Borzage production far out strips the Lang version (and that one has Charles Boyer). Maybe it's because Charles Farrell is rogueish and like a naughty boy whereas I felt that Boyer's Lilliom was even more uncaring and had no redeeming features. The sets are very striking in Borzage's production, though obviously studio bound the atomosphere he creates for me is reminiscient of Ophuls La Ronde mixed with The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, the firm lines and geometric shapes of Calgari and the sparkling fairground of Ophuls. The sets were of the bare minimum but big. The only slight note of discontent came with the delivery of dialogue of Rose Hobart, it's so obvious that she is from the stage, distractingly so and although she's the better actor of the two it's Farrell who is far more relaxed and believable. With this one I think Borzage hit his stride again but it was a commerical disaster, had the production code been in full force earlier it wouldn't have made it to the screen. As it was Great Britain and the Commonwealth banned it as did Catholic countries for the depiction of the afterlife and lack of marriage between Julie and Liliom, that left the Germanic countries. In many places the film ended when Liliom died missing the best sequences of the film, the train coming through the big bay window and picking Liliom up to face judgement on the train and then transfer to another train down to the pit of hell, complete with smoke glasses.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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

Postby Ann Harding » January 22nd, 2010, 9:13 am

Rasputin & The Empress (1932, R. Boleslavsky) with Diana Wynyard, John, Lionel & Ethel Barrymore
ImageImageImage
The mysterious Rasputin (L. Barrymore) manages to heal the Tsarevich's sufferings. He gains an enormous power over Tsar Nicolai II and his family. Prince Chegodieff (J. Barrymore) worries about Rasputin and his machiavelian plans. He tries to warn the Tsarina (E. Barrymore) to no avail. Even, his fiancee Princess Natasha (D. Wynyard) is under his spell...
I was really surprised to discover a genuine pre-code picture in this lavish MGM production which gathers the whole Barrymore family. It's not the only film dealing with Rasputin. There is a particularly fun one with Harry Baur from 1937 called La Tragédie Impériale. Baur has a whale of time chewing the scenery. But, here, the script goes one step further, not only Rasputin plots against the Tsar, but he also seems to have some pretty libidinous thoughts towards the young princess Maria (played by a very young Jean Parker) and it's pretty obvious that he sexually abused Natasha, in spite of numerous jump-cuts in various scenes. The scene where Prince Chegodieff kills Rasputin is really violent. Though John and Lionel are both hamming away, trying to steal the scene from each other, it's still genuinely disturbing. Ethel is less hammy, but at times, she becomes stagey in her delivery. The film is rather uneven; some very static stagey scenes are followed by some really superb ones with a great gothic atmosphere. The original director Charles Brabin was sacked during the shooting and replaced by Boleslavsky who had the advantage of being Russian-born. The cinematography by the great Wm H. Daniels brings the film its doomed and disturbing atmosphere. It's also a pleasure to see lovely Diana Wynyard playing Rasputin's innocent victim. Overal, an uneven picture, but it's an enormous guilty pleasure to watch. 8)
Last edited by Ann Harding on January 23rd, 2010, 8:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

feaito

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

Postby feaito » January 22nd, 2010, 11:45 am

Great and very informative review Christine. I'm eager to watch this film (when I find the Tape...)

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

Postby Ann Harding » January 23rd, 2010, 8:47 am

I went yesterday to see La Madone des Sleepings (Madonna of the Sleeping Cars, 1928) by Maurice Gleize with Claude France & Olaf Fjord. It's a big silent production adapted from a famous novel of the time by Maurice Dekobra. The story revolves around Lady Wynham (C. France) who is facing ruin. She recruits a secretary in the person of Prince Séliman (O. Fjord) to help her recover some oil fields in Soviet Russia. The secretary will have to face terrible dangers, in particular the terrifying commissar Irina Mouravieff. This picture turned out to be rather uneven. It started studio-bound, before offering some welcome changes with some Constantinople locations. It's a shame that the film's structure is so messy and lacking in pacing. The cast is rather good with Claude France playing the scandalous Lady Wynham. She appears in a tiny costume performing a Pagan Dance in front of an outraged English audience. The Russian Boris de Fast is excellent as the libidinous Soviet attaché. And Mary Serta is very good as the mannish commissar with short hair and strict clothing. She looks like a Pabst actress! Olaf Fjord, whom I had already seen in Bernard's Tarakanova (1930) is good looking but bland. Overall, it's not a great feature and it's probably still lacking some footage. Nevertheless, the Art Deco sets were pretty good and I liked De Fast's (who played the overseer of the executions in Napoléon) performance as the libidinous Russian who likes to pour Champagne on naked ladies. :mrgreen:

feaito

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

Postby feaito » January 23rd, 2010, 8:54 am

The film sounds interesting Christine. I've only seen Boris de Fast as the villainous character he played in John Barrymore's "Tempest" (1928), one of my favorite Silents. He was really creepy incarnating evil there.

feaito

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

Postby feaito » January 23rd, 2010, 10:50 am

On Wednesday I saw "Picture Snatcher” (1933). This snappy Pre-Coder starring James Cagney as a gangster who wants to go straight after serving a three-year period in prison, becoming a reporter and “picture snatcher” for a notorious, sleazy tabloid. Cagney is superb in his delivery of the fast dialogue and is a joy to behold. He’s such a likable cad! Ralph Bellamy plays his dipsomaniac boss and Alice White his shamelessly promiscuous girlfriend (an fellow reporter). Very enjoyable, fast moving and entertaining.

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

Postby Ollie » January 23rd, 2010, 3:53 pm

I have GOT to trick Fernando into telling us the Spanish equivalent of "dipsomaniac boss" sometime. He's so comfortable with English idioms but I often wonder how different they might be from the Spanish equivalent's literal translation.

For example, in English, an employee's employer, manager or supervisor might be "the boss" or "the chief", maybe "the big guy" or "head guy", or in a friendly jocular term, perhaps "big kahuna". Oh, and there is an occasional "the boss-man", and often "the big boss" is used to indicate "my boss's boss".

In Spanish, "el jefe" is literally 'the head' - and generally this is not confused with a sailor's use of 'the head'. Hrumph. But I've only heard "el jefe" being used as an idiom for a 'boss'.

Now, this "dipsomanic boss" has got me curious!

feaito

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

Postby feaito » January 23rd, 2010, 9:12 pm

Hi Ollie,

The equivalents for "dipsomaniac boss" could be: jefe dipsomaníaco, jefe alcohólico, jefe bueno para el trago, jefe curado....

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

Postby myrnaloyisdope » January 24th, 2010, 4:18 pm

Picture Snatcher is a fun one, blazingly fast, with Cagney going light speed in the way that only he can.

I've been on a Victor Sjostrom kick lately, I'm really wishing more of his stuff was readily available, so so good.

The Outlaw & His Wife - Sjostrom plays the lead, a man with a past who ends up marrying a wealthy woman with whom he flees on their wedding night. They end up living in the mountainous Swedish countryside only to be tracked down eventually leading to the brutal climax. I will admit to being a bit underwhelmed by the film, particularly after hearing some marvellous reviews of it and the reverential treatment of it in Brownlow's Cinema Europe. It was still quite good, but I never felt it was as emotionally gripping as I was imagining it would be. So depsite the bleakness of the film and the marvellous landscapes I was left wanting a bit more. Maybe it's one that would grow on me?

The Scarlet Letter - Just watched this one this morning, and was very impressed by it. I was vaguely familiar with concept of the story, but didn't know any of the details of the film, so I was left gripped by it, waiting to see how it would all unfold. Lillian Gish is the lead, and Lars Hanson is the pastor who she has an affair with. Both give great performances on par with their work in The Wind, and the film does a wonderful job at dealing with the complexity of the religious themes. The scene where a bunch of town kids pelt Gish's young daughter with mud simply for being the child of an unwed mother is one of the more harrowing sequences I've seen. Just brutally grim. Without having read the original source material, I have no idea how accurate the film is, but regardless it was really compelling and complex exploration of religion and hypocracy.
"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 drednm » January 25th, 2010, 6:53 am

I watched a neat little programmer called Romance of the Underworld which starred Mary Astor as a B girl who ditches her seedy nightclub life and works her way through night school, marries the boss (John Boles) only to find that snarky fingers of her past reaching out via blackmail. Oscar Apfel, Ben Bard, and Helen Lynch are among the night denizens, and wonderful Robert Elliott is the kind cop who sets the ending in motion. Good video quality for the 1928 film but this copy is mute.
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby MichiganJ » January 25th, 2010, 11:14 am

myrnaloyisdope wrote:The Outlaw & His Wife...Maybe it's one that would grow on me?

While I've liked all of his films I've seen, I've found that most of Sjöström's films do get better on subsequent viewings, particularly The Outlaw and his Wife. Don't miss Sjöström's Terje Vigen (A Man There Was), which has a riveting story and is visually stunning.
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby myrnaloyisdope » January 25th, 2010, 11:19 pm

Still haven't watch Terje Vigen, but I have the Kino disc.

I watched Raymond Griffith's Paths to Paradise last night and was pretty disappointed by it. I'd heard nothing but raves about it and I loved Hands Up!, so I was really excited about checking it out. But it just didn't really do much for me despite a lot of potential. The opening sequence is pretty great, with Griffith outconning Betty Compson and her gang of con artists, but the film never really takes off from there. The potential of a Raymond Griffith-Betty Compson grifting team is huge, but nothing comes of it other than some mildly amusing gags, and a terribly long car chase, and then the abrupt ending due to the missing last reel. It's a shame the final reel is missing, but what's left isn't all that inspiring, the pacing of the film drags quite a bit. It's kind of shame as it could have been a great picture, kind of a pre-cursor to the con and heist pictures that would follow in later years (Ocean's Eleven et al.), similar in tone with the deft light comedy and the focus of the story being the con artist protagonists.
"Do you think it's dangerous to have Busby Berkeley dreams?" - The Magnetic Fields


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