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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 » May 23rd, 2010, 4:53 pm

I didn't find I had much empathy with the character of Kiki, she's too selfish, taking the other girl's references is just one example. There are some areas where I thought she showed real talent but mostly I wondered if she was going through the motions to please her husband.

I hadn't thought of the WR Hearst/the Chief angle of Bachelor Father, hmm, that's an interesting take on the film.

I watched Photoplay's documentary on Greta Garbo, simply one of the best bipgraphies of a star I've ever watched. The talking heads included both Barry Paris and Karen Swenson who've written acclaimed biographies of her, Leatrice Fountain, Garbo's niece and nephews, George Cukor, Clarence Brown and Gore Vidal. The footage included things I'd never seen before, like Garbo's last test before the cameras, the project dropped because she didn't have enough appeal and there was ample footage of her best moments on screen. She's meant to have appealed more to women, something my husband thought must have been true, partly watching the documentary with me, she left him cold. How that perfect face could not move him or the footage of her best scenes is beyond me but then we are like chalk and cheese.
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 » May 24th, 2010, 7:37 am

ImageImage
(Left, Mme Récamier painted by Gérard in 1805/Right, Marie Bell as Mme Récamier)

Yesterday I went to see Madame Récamier (1927, Gaston Ravel) with Marie Bell, Charles Le Bargy, Françoise Rosay and Emile Drain. It was a big budget historical picture retelling the life story of Juliette Récamier who was a famous beauty during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era. Marie Bell was playing the title role with plenty of charm. Born Julie Bernard, her mother married her (at 15) to a 42-year old Récamier, a banker. Unbeknown to her, the man was actually her biological father (!!!). He married her in order that she could inherit his fortune as he thought he would fall under the guillotine soon. But he didn't. Juliette lived a life of chastity, like a nun, surrounded by many men who were just crazy about her (all the marshalls of Napoléon, Napoléon himself, Lucien Bonaparte and many more). Later, she falls in love for the first time with a Prussian prince. She asks her husband for a divorce, but he refuses. She ends up living unto old age, still gathering a crowd of artists around her. The famous writer Chateaubriand comes to visit her every day, even when he is old and frail. The director managed an all star-cast with great panache. Each part was played extremely well by some theater actors of the time (though they are not stagey). If Gaston Ravel was not a very imaginative director, at least the storyline holds up its own throughout the picture. The life story of Juliette Récamier is so astonishing and full of amazing encounters that you don't get bored. You could sort of compare her with Lady Hamilton. Some scenes were shot on locations near Lake Geneva and offered some lovely shots of Juliette being romanced by the Prussian Prince. Overall, a nice surprise.

feaito

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

Postby feaito » May 24th, 2010, 3:19 pm

How interesting Christine. Do you think this film might be released on DVD in France?

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

Postby Ann Harding » May 25th, 2010, 4:04 am

Unfortunately, I don't think so. Nobody cares about such films..... :|

feaito

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

Postby feaito » May 25th, 2010, 11:22 am

:(

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

Postby MikeBSG » May 25th, 2010, 11:52 am

Yesterday, I watched "The Penalty," which starred Lon Chaney.

The film is an argument by default for the greatness of Tod Browning (who did not direct it.) Chaney was mesmerizing as the main character, "Blizzard," a legless man who runs the San Francisco underworld.

However, the rest of the cast was utterly forgettable. I assume that the female Federal agent fell in love with Chaney, and that he seduced the female scupltor, because the plot told me so. I sure as heck didn't see any emotion in the way they played their roles.

Really, "the Unknown" just buries this film. Browning's film is focused and puts Chaney in the midst of people and not cardboard cutouts.

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

Postby MikeBSG » May 26th, 2010, 11:53 am

Today my daughter and I watched the 1924 "Hands of Orlac."

An interesting film, if too long and slow-paced. Rather different from "Mad Love," in that the emphasis is on the guy who receives the new hands, not the doctor who did the operation. Conrad Veidt is very good as Orlac, a man afraid of his own hands. Veidt has several scenes by himself as he regards his hands with loathing.

Fritz Kortner does a good job as the villain, but he needed more screen time.

Basically, I think "Mad Love" is a far superior film.

There was a trailer for "Mad Love" on the DVD. Lorre gets a phone call from a woman who tells him how much she enjoyed him in "M." Lorre makes a very strange expression when she says that. The woman also mentions the (1934) "Man Who Knew Too Much."

That made me wonder, just how many Americans could have seen "M" and "Man Who Knew Too Much" in 1935?

The trailer introduced Lorre with a quote praising him from Charlie Chaplin. That I could understand.

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Gagman 66
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby Gagman 66 » May 28th, 2010, 1:06 pm

:) Watched THE SILENT ENEMY on TCM last night. It was simply fantastic! This rarely seen film, a late Paramount Silent, produced in 1929, and actually released in 1930, just astounded me. I had never seen it before, even though the movie once had been on DVD about 10 or 11 years ago from Milestone. And before that on Laser-disc back in the early 90's . Both long out of print. This might have been a TCM premier? To my knowledge it was. Truly a magnificent picture about the Ojibway Indians before Columbus landed. A peaceful people, almost one with nature. I enjoyed seeing the new restorations of THE VANISHING AMERICAN last week, and THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS the other morning, but it my opinion THE SILENT ENEMY was the best of three!

I was completely blown away by this movie. So authentic that it could have actually been made before the time of Columbus, if they had had Motion Picture film in the day. Wow, what a picture. I just can't thank TCM enough for showing this amazing and wonderful film. The views of the wildlife and wilderness were just extraordinary. I loved the two bear cubs. Powerful and moving performances too, by mostly all real Indian actors. Truly an outstanding feature.

I just wish TCM could have been run the film a little earlier in the evening. This movie deserves a very large audience. It would also be nice to see a fresh transfer struck, although it still looked 10 times better than NANOOK OF THE NORTH did in Prime-time. Nonetheless, t would still be great to see a newer and improved restoration of THE SILENT ENEMY as well.

If I have a gripe with the Native American's festival, it is that by far the two most battered looking Silent's aired in Prime-time, while much better print material was broadcast in the Wee-small hours of the night. That being said it was a fascinating festival this year with allot of good movies scattered throughout the line-up.

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

Postby Synnove » May 31st, 2010, 2:05 pm

I saw The Iron Horse (1924) directed by John Ford.

Then I read the section on The Iron Horse in Kevin Brownlow's The War, the West and the Wilderness. Apparently the filming was quite violent, with the company bootlegger getting killed among other things. And of course, a lot of the atmosphere of the film probably comes from its director's personal relation to the story. John Ford's father both fought in the civil war and worked on the railroad.

This movie isn't a perfect masterpiece but still I think it's great - though weighed down by a lot of comic relief-characters, which is reminiscent of The Big Parade, and hardly presenting Native Americans in a humane light - you don't get to see much from their point of view, and the main villain of the piece is a bit of a mystery to me. Is he meant to be one of those "cunning mixed-race"-archetypes that appear in early cinema, like Silas Lynch in BoaN? Anyway, the movie is still an epic, following the construction of the railroad that went across America and throwing in a lot of famous historical characters into the mix, like Buffalo Bill and Abraham Lincoln - I particularly liked this cameo, since I had recently seen John Ford's Young Mr Lincoln from 1939, and according to a biography about him he used to speak of Lincoln as though he were an old friend. Young Mr Lincoln is also a good film, which I think is little known. I can recommend it.

It's the setting in the great open countryside, and the sense of going through a journey traveling along the tracks of the railroad while making history that makes this such an accomplished epic film, I think. And it feels good to get back to viewing silents again after more than a month of essays and exams.

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knitwit45
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby knitwit45 » May 31st, 2010, 3:05 pm

Synnove said:
And it feels good to get back to viewing silents again after more than a month of essays and exams.


It feels good to have you back, too! :D :D

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

Postby Synnove » May 31st, 2010, 4:10 pm

Thanks, what a nice thing to say! :)

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

Postby mrsl » June 1st, 2010, 3:10 pm

I must admit again, I was pleasantly surprised while watching Four Sons Sunday night in how good and heartwarming it was. Putting down my needlework at that time of the morning or night if you prefer, is easy enough, but the names of the movies don't always move me to watch them.

As a rule, I like to know the names of the actors I'm watching, but these were all total strangers to me. I especially wanted to know who Francis X. Bushman was because I recall my parents discussing how he no longer made movies at that particular time (whatever it was), but also because there was a huge gorilla named after him at the Lincoln Park Zoo, so the name was familiar to me.

As old as I am and as many generations of actors I've gone through, I guess I'm still a little too modernized to fully appreciate a silent film. The over-acting sometimes just does me in. My preference is for actors who don't seem as if they are acting, like Mitchum, both Hepburns, Roz Russell, Tracy, etc. The wringing of hands, slumping in a chair to cry, and covering the face with the whole arm are so distracting to me, they make me lose tract of the plot sometimes. On the whole however, If I had the free time (seems silly to say with all the free time I really do have), I would try to watch more, but it's just too hard.
.
Anne


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

Postby jdb1 » June 1st, 2010, 3:23 pm

I agree, Anne. I don't dislike the silents, but they don't "speak" to me in the way that they seem to enrapture some of our fellow SSO-ers. I like some silents much better than others.

I tried watching The Squaw Man last week, but the histrionic, old-fashioned acting style was too much to sit through. In cases like that, really do feel the need for spoken dialogue, with its vocal nuances. However, some actors, even some who used the 19th Century melodramatic style in the silents (like John Barrymore on more than one occasion), transcended the need for sound. But, in general, recognizing their cinematic validity and all, I find that most of the silents I've seen over the years do try my patience a bit. Like much to do with movie fandom, it's a matter of personal preference.

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

Postby Synnove » June 1st, 2010, 7:18 pm

As old as I am and as many generations of actors I've gone through, I guess I'm still a little too modernized to fully appreciate a silent film. The over-acting sometimes just does me in. My preference is for actors who don't seem as if they are acting, like Mitchum, both Hepburns, Roz Russell, Tracy, etc. The wringing of hands, slumping in a chair to cry, and covering the face with the whole arm are so distracting to me, they make me lose tract of the plot sometimes. On the whole however, If I had the free time (seems silly to say with all the free time I really do have), I would try to watch more, but it's just too hard.


I think that's completely understandable. Also, some silents hold up better than others - to me that has more to do with the acting than with film editing. Asta Nielsen's performance in The Abyss is startlingly effective today, even though the film itself is kind of archaic, for instance. John Gilbert's performance in The Big Parade is another one. Sometimes when I make a concentrated effort I can get into even the over-emoting silents, and since I've grown so used to the silent style by now, some of the gestures you mentioned work fine for me - I hardly think about how normal people wouldn't do that. It's simply another language. But I can definitively see why it's not everyone's cup of tea.

One thing that always makes a difference to me is watching a silent movie on a big screen with live music. Then I can become much more drawn in to that world. That's when I "get" it, even becoming emotionally affected by movies I would otherwise feel a bit distanced from. I loved watching The Saga of Gösta Berling on the big screen, and that one almost reaches Metropolis standards of over-emoting. I never liked it on TV in the same way. The right music is also very important. If the movies themselves don't draw you I don't think you need to force yourself to watch them, but if there's ever a screening in your town I recommend giving it a shot. It's more of an experience.

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

Postby MikeBSG » June 2nd, 2010, 8:20 am

I watched the Raymond Griffiths comedy "Hands Up" yesterday.

I had mixed emotions about it. The plot is pretty clever (basically a send-up of "Virginia City" before the fact.) There are some good gags, as when Griffiths saves his life before an inept firing squad.

But I never really warmed to him. He seemed like a "Snidely Whiplash" kind of person, and I didn't see what the two sisters who fell in love with him saw.

Also, scenes went on way too long. The scene with him and the two women in the stagecoach might have been charming with dialogue, but in a silent movie it lasted too long.

I found myself wishing that Harold Lloyd had snapped up this story and attacked the material with his unit. Then this could have been a masterpiece. As it is, it showed me why Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd are regarded as the best silent comedians.


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