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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 » February 1st, 2010, 3:39 pm

I've only seen Hindle Wakes, which I love, it's set in my neck of the woods and my grandparents worked in the mills and went to Blackpool at Wakes Week. All this colours my view of the film, I'd recommend it to any silent fan.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

feaito

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

Postby feaito » February 1st, 2010, 9:05 pm

I saw Hollywood's 11th part: "Trick of the Light". Great tackling of the subject of cameramen and fantastic interviews: Lee Garmes, Henry Hathaway, Lillian Gish, Karl Brown, Willy Wyler and many more. Christine I'm so grateful you shared this treasure with me. :D

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

Postby Ann Harding » February 2nd, 2010, 8:30 am

Glad you are enjoying it, Feaito! :)

I have been watching a whole bunch of Léonce Perret silent shorts. I must say this director is really an innovator in many ways: narration, lighting effect, composition and atmosphere. He was himself an actor and appeared in many shorts as 'Léonce'. I saw two of these. Léonce aime les morilles (Léonce likes morel mushrooms, 1912) is a delightful comedy where he is searching for morels in the undergrowth with his wife. Alas, not a single one in sight. Then a lady comes by with a basketfull. He wants to buy it, but an Englishman beats him to it. He gets his revenge by replacing the delicious mushrooms by pieces of sponge in the omelette that the unsuspecting Englishman swallows. The immediate effect is the poor man is thirsty and sponges off all the water he can find! :lol: I giggled my way through this film. Really funny and very well done. Another short Léonce Cinématographiste (Léonce motion-picture actor, 1911) is also great. He works at the Gaumont studios as star actor and his wife suspects him of being unfaithful. She finds ladies' hair on his coat, fan letters in his pocket... This is again really funny and well done. We even get to see behind the camera view of the studio.
I followed these treats by several Louis Feuillade shorts. Feuillade was the other great director of the Gaumont company at the time. I am already familiar with his great serials (Judex, Fantômas, Les Vampires), but in his shorts, it's quite striking to see that his image composition is not as sophisticated as Perret. His studio sets are lit quite flatly. We hardly ever get shadows or back-lighting. He seems to hit his stride once he is on locations. The shorts I watched are a series trying to show 'life as it is'. I was particularly interested by La Tare (The defect, 1911). A woman of ill-repute is saved by a kindly doctor who helps the poor and needy. The lady becomes his indispensible assistant and when he dies, he gives her the direction of the place. Alas, many years later, in spite of her brilliant work, she is sacked when her past is revealed. She is driven to suicide. This very dark tale highlights the terrible hypocrisy of pre-WWI society. Once a fallen woman, you are never allowed any redemption whatever good you will do later. Another short called Hantise (Dread, 1912) was very timely in showing the sinking of the Titanic. It used some small model ships. Unfortunately, it was quite visible it wasn't a real full-size ship... Overall, Feuillade is more at ease when weaving complex criminal stories than in the delicate work of a Perret.

feaito

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

Postby feaito » February 2nd, 2010, 9:37 am

Very enlightening reviews Christine. I only knew about Perret that he directed Swanson in "Madame Sans- Gêne" (1925); Didn't he?

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

Postby Ann Harding » February 2nd, 2010, 11:26 am

feaito wrote:Very enlightening reviews Christine. I only knew about Perret that he directed Swanson in "Madame Sans- Gêne" (1925); Didn't he?

Yes, but it's a lost picture. :wink:

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

Postby Ollie » February 2nd, 2010, 11:56 am

Christine, you'd mentioned other Gaumont films or better qualities. Are you seeing a lot of those being made available in Europe? (I haven't even checked - I can get onto AMAZON.FR and found out, but I was just curious if you're seeing more of those being placed onto DVDs. I hope so. I might not collect those, but I hope those will be spared the fate of the dust-bin.)

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

Postby drednm » February 2nd, 2010, 1:53 pm

Swanson said she was always being asked about the status of 2 films: Madame Sans-Gene and What a Widow!. She was sorry for the loss of the former film but didn't care about the latter.

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

Postby MichiganJ » February 2nd, 2010, 2:27 pm

Ollie wrote:Christine, you'd mentioned other Gaumont films or better qualities. Are you seeing a lot of those being made available in Europe? (I haven't even checked - I can get onto AMAZON.FR and found out, but I was just curious if you're seeing more of those being placed onto DVDs. I hope so. I might not collect those, but I hope those will be spared the fate of the dust-bin.)

Last year Kino released a fantastic 3-disc set of Gaumont films called Gaumont Treasures 1897-1913. Disc one features films quite a few shorts by Alice Guy, disc 2 has 13 films by Feuillade (including La Tere, but alas, not Hantise), and disc 3 contains two features by Léonce Perret.

Let's hope the set sells well so they will want to release another.
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby charliechaplinfan » February 2nd, 2010, 2:56 pm

I saw Just Pals today, part of the Ford at Fox boxset. This is the second Buck Jones film I've seen, he plays a similar figure here as he did in Lazybones, that of a lazy man or 'town bum' Bim as he's called here. He rescues a lad William who has been stowing away on a train, he befriends him and takes him to live with him in a haystack, he sends the boy to school, he's sweet on the teacher but she has eyes for the bank cashier. When William the young boy falls off a train getting Bim a uniform to wear for his new job, the doctor and his wife take him in to claim a reward for a lost boy. The teacher has lent the memorial fund money to her guy to stop him from getting into trouble, he tells her he will give her the money back with ten minutes notice, only he doesn't and when the school inspectors come to claim the money and the money does not arrive the teacher tries to drown herself in the river. Bim gets the money from the cashier but the cashier has a scheme to have the bank robbed that night and Bim goes to rescue the teacher but he won't tell of why he has the money and the townsfolk try to lynch him. Everything comes out alright in the end, the cashier is caught, William is not the boy of the reward but it is another boy who ended up in Bim's custody. A cheque from the boy's father has William and Bim set up for life.

Ford uses a very light hand in directing this tale, trusting his actors and pacing the story so that it never flags.

Next I watched Possessed 1931 with Joan Crawford and Clark Gable. This is Crawford's film, she is the star and Gable's career in on the ascendant. The chemistry between the two of them is quite powerful, they look good together and make the most of Marion/Joan's escape from a small town to become the mistress of a big shot lawyer Mark Whitney/Gable, they hide her status behind a fictitious widowhood, Whitney does not want to marry again after a painful divorce. To aid his political career, Marion leaves him so he is not encumbered with questions about her but her name gets into his opponents hands, it's a tad saccharine at the end but it doesn't matter, it's Gable and Crawford.

I'm apt to forget how attractive Joan was at this stage in her career because she seemed so mannish and invulnerable later on in her career, I forget to notice her bone structure, which is incredible. I like the young Joan.
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 myrnaloyisdope » February 2nd, 2010, 11:27 pm

Ooh, Possessed is a fine film. I really liked Clarence Brown's direction, that early sequence where Joan is out walking and comes across the train, is so ethereal and dreamlike that it can only be described as majestic. It's as if the train appears like a vivid fever dream from the mind of the divine Mrs. Crawford. It's one of the great sequences in all of pre-code.

I watched Chang: A Drama In The Wilderness last night, and was wowed. It's a faux nature documentary in the tradition of Robert J. Flaherty, part authentic, part scripted. The film was made by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack a few years before King Kong and to be truthful, I enjoyed Chang quite a bit more. The film follows Kru a Siamese villager and his family as they attempt to maintain a life for themselves in the jungle, fighting off the elements and the wildlife. The film is exquisitely photographed, and wonderfully edited, with some absolutely riveting sequences, notably the destruction of the family's home by some elephants, and an dreadfully intense chase sequence involving a leopard. The wildlife photography is astonishing, and the family's pet gibbon (oddly named Bimbo), steals several scenes. A wonderful surprise, and the Milestone disc is quite good with some color footage from a proposed 1950's re-release, and an informative commentary by Rudy Behlmer. I would argue this one is essential.
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby Ann Harding » February 3rd, 2010, 3:51 am

MichiganJ wrote:
Ollie wrote:Christine, you'd mentioned other Gaumont films or better qualities. Are you seeing a lot of those being made available in Europe? (I haven't even checked - I can get onto AMAZON.FR and found out, but I was just curious if you're seeing more of those being placed onto DVDs. I hope so. I might not collect those, but I hope those will be spared the fate of the dust-bin.)

Last year Kino released a fantastic 3-disc set of Gaumont films called Gaumont Treasures 1897-1913. Disc one features films quite a few shorts by Alice Guy, disc 2 has 13 films by Feuillade (including La Tere, but alas, not Hantise), and disc 3 contains two features by Léonce Perret.

Let's hope the set sells well so they will want to release another.

The original Gaumont set in France contains 7 discs: 2 for Alice Guy, 2 for Feuillade and 3 for Perret. Kino has reduced drastically the length, particularly for Perret. It's a shame. Since then, Gaumont has released a second volume (6 DVDs) with some Emile Cohl, Jean Durand and a few other directors. (I will certainly acquire it at some point)

Thanks to Ollie's generosity, I became so interested in the Perret films that I decided to acquire the full 7 DVDs set. Rest assured Ollie that your discs will be preserved and will never meet any dust-bin. :wink: I will certainly share them with some friends who haven't seen the films yet.

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

Postby charliechaplinfan » February 3rd, 2010, 5:10 am

The train scene in Possessed is lovely. How it slowly passes Joan and she sees first the servants catering to needs of the rich passengers and then the couple dancing and finally the man who gives her his address, 890 Park Avenue.
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 charliechaplinfan » February 3rd, 2010, 2:54 pm

The kids have been watching Laurel and Hardy, what a triumph, they would rather watch an episode of L&H than the Simpsons. Favorites include Twice Two, Brats, Big Business, Laughing Gravy, You're Darn Tootin and Night Owls. The little one has even managed Pay Day with Charlie Chaplin, he's fascinated with the brick laying scene but overall his favorite is L&H.

I watched Chained this afternoon, another pairing of Gable and Crawford, I slightly prefer Possessed but there's not much in it. I think it's because I prefer Joan when she's a bit more hardbitten and she's sweet in Chained, I don't think the character fits her as well. Favorite scene, the pool scene with Gable and Crawford (mainly for Gable) and the scenes at the ranch. Joan got to wear some frilly gowns with added bows, she looks better in strong lines.

After that I finished off the Borzage box set with Young America. Overall I've been really impressed with the boxset, there was only one film that was a miss with me and that was Song O My Heart and another They Had to See Paris which was watchable but not completely my cup of tea. The silents in this set are some of the very best silents ever made, I was impressed with the talkies, I enjoyed them all immensley apart from the two mentioned.
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 Ollie » February 3rd, 2010, 3:49 pm

Christine, thanks for this tip. We got onto AMAZON FR and ordered the larger sets of the Gaumont disks, plus we found a new Gene Tierney collection with a couple of (SADLY - ANGRILY) "unique in Europe" films. Grrr. This is the price we pay for not traveling for 2-3 months in Europe every year - we forget to login and check out the on-line shops instead of a casual walk down some boulevard. Which I still find preferable... no bleepin' pop-ups...

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

Postby MichiganJ » February 3rd, 2010, 6:51 pm

Saw the Marlene Dietrich silent, The Woman Men Yearn For (1929). As the intertitles were in German, some of the particulars remain a bit cloudy, but, as with many European films from the late 20s, the visuals are really all you need to understand the story.

Charles Leblanc (Oskar Sima) is a newlywed who boards a train with his new bride. While his bride gets ready in their room, Leblanc waits in the hall where he sees Stascha (Dietrich). Immediately there's an undeniable sexual chemistry between the two, but Stascha is with another man, Dr. Karoff (Fritz Kortner, looking exactly as he did in Pandora's Box.) Stascha quickly introduces Leblanc as a friend or relative of some kind. and when Stascha and the Dr. get off the train, Leblanc abandons his wife, joining them at an Alpine hotel. During the New Year's party, the sexual tension builds between Leblanc and Stascha, and the good Doctor notices, too. That's one of the reasons he's packing his gun…

Director Curtis Bernhardt moves his camera effortlessly (especially as he pans along Dietrick's exposed legs while she sleeps), and the film has a terrific pace and tone. Dietrich is fantastic, and looks great, too. While the contrasts in the print were not pristine, there are many shots which certainly highlight her cheekbones, and there's no mistaking her eyes. This film proves that Dietrich was Dietrich before Sternberg.
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