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WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

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charliechaplinfan
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Postby charliechaplinfan » February 23rd, 2008, 2:25 pm

I agree with you wholeheartedly about Marion Davies. She was one of the most talented actresses of the Silent era. A pity that she isn't as well remembered as Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo and Clara Bow. She deserves to be.

I got to see The Wedding March I've only seen Queen Kelly and after seeing the Hollywood episode on Von Stroheim it left me wanting to see more of his work.

I think I can call myself a fan. I know there will probably be plenty of nuances and little touches I missed, I only intended watching an hour of it and getting an early night but I couldn't leave it alone.

I had read about the Wedding March in an interview with Fay Wray, she painted Von Stroheim in a favorable light which I'm inclined to believe rather than some other stories that circulate about him. I was interested to see how he would come across in a romantic role. He isn't what you would call handsome, nevertheless when he was astride his horse flirting with Mitzi he was extremely seductive. Again in the love scenes he underplayed the scenes and they were lovely to watch. I'll never see apple blossom in the same way again. In other scenes he had a cynicism that I liked. The theme that played out about his parents marriage which was then revisited on him when he marries Zasu Pitts. He surrenders to his fate without fighting for the girl he loves. Did he really love her? Or does he know it's pointless to fight for the girl he loves? Or does he love money more than her? Whatever thereason she has a far worse fate, a marriage to the butcher Schani.

It had a lovely soundtrack by Gaylord carter, suited it perfectly.

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Ann Harding
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Postby Ann Harding » February 24th, 2008, 4:55 am

Yesterday, I had the huge pleasure of discovering Les Ombres Qui Passent (1924) by Alexandre Volkoff with Ivan Mosjoukine and Nathalie Lissenko. This silent film is production of the Albatros company run by Russian émigrés, just outside Paris. The film turned out to be a very special experience: a mixture of burlesque, comedy and drama. It wasn't Russian-related in any way and the plot took place in England, Paris and Corsica.
*Spoiler alert!*
Louis Barclay (Ivan Mosjoukine) enjoys a very healthy life style in a small village in the New Forest (England) with his wife Alice and his (completely) overbearing father who makes him milk cows. One day, Louis receives a letter telling him that a parent has died bequesting him several millions. He has to go to Paris to receive the money. His arrival in the capital causes a lot of merriments as his tailored suit is pretty ridiculous: short trousers, long jacket and narrow hat (pretty much the look of Buster Keaton)! The young man is completely out of his depth among VIPs in the posh hotel where he arrives, causing trouble after trouble in the restaurant. One crook spots him immediately: he is the perfect sucker that can be fleeced easily. He asked his accomplice Jacqueline (Nathalie Lissenko), the perfect siren dressed in Paul Poiret dresses, to come round and to start 'working on' Louis. Louis obviously enjoys his new found freedom: no more evening with his father reading him Thoreau, instead a ball with beautiful ladies!!! In the meantime, the father and wife are getting restless in England as they don't receive any news. They come accross the Channel to join him in Paris. But, Louis is now very much in love with Jacqueline and even his father's threat won't make him change his mind. He gives his father all the money he has received and decides to follow the lady of his dreams. Jacqueline has decided to break away from the crooks as she can't stand their methods any more. She travels all the way to Corsica (a French island in the Mediterranean) with Louis and her former accomplices in hot pursuit. After various ups and downs, Louis is injured and Jacqueline decides to give him up in favour his wife who is expecting a baby.
The beginning of the film was very much like a Buster Keaton comedy with Louis being bullied by his father and doing pranks not unlike the American comedian. This was a very nice homage to Keaton. The second part of the film showed a distinct change in mood. From burlesque comedy, we moved to melodrama and tragedy. The lead actor, Ivan Mosjoukine was behind the script of the film: he gave a bravoura performance. He was a huge star in the 20s, working in Russia, France, USA and Germany and dying destitute and forgotten in 1939 after the advent of sound. I must say I was very impressed by his comic timing and I will now make some effort to try to see other films with Mosjoukine. The restored tinted print I saw was absolutely gorgeous. A real treat! :D

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charliechaplinfan
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Postby charliechaplinfan » February 24th, 2008, 7:38 am

I like your review, Annharding, it sounds like such an interesting movie.

I got my first chance to watch Wings.

Was I supposed to cry because I felt really tearful. The little bear and the parents just set me off. It's a very moving story but has lovely moments of comedy, like when Buddy Rogers character is drunk (which I believe he really was) and Clara can't get him to recognise her because he can't focus.

I think part of it's success for me was the story between the two men and the involvement I felt with their characters. Young boys going to war, learning to fly aeroplanes. They are sent off to war as lads and those who come back do so as men. Prematurely aged men. I thought Buddy's white hair was such a good touch.

The aerial stunts are without doubt magnificent for their time. William Wellman waited days for the skies to clear, it was worth it, the aerial footage is magnificent.

I have to say a last word about Clara. She was wonderful, she has so much energy. She deserves another box set.

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Ann Harding
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Postby Ann Harding » February 25th, 2008, 5:03 am

Image
Yesterday, I went to see a Jacques Feyder silent: Gribiche (1926) with Françoise Rosay and Jean Forest (the little boy who played in Feyder's Visages d'Enfants & Crainquebille).

*Spoiler alert!*
A young boy nicknamed Gribiche (J. Forest) notices a lost handbag in a Paris department store and runs to give it back to its owner, a rich American widow (F. Rosay). She wants to give him a reward but he refuses. She takes his address down nevertheless. The boy goes to meet his mother who is working in factory. They live together very happily. Though they aren't poor, they live in modest surroundings as his mother is a war widow. She is courted insistently by a foreman who would like to marry her. But, she consistently refuses because of her little boy. One Sunday morning, the American lady arrives unannounced and tells the mother that she would like to adopt her son as she has means to provide him with an education. To the mother's great surprise, Gribiche says he wants to go with the lady as it's a great opportunity.
For Gribiche, life changes completely. He has a nearly military schedule: woken up by a butler at 6.30am, bath, breakfast, boxing lesson, shower, math & literature lessons, etc.... The boy has to dress up and to eat in the very grand dining room with half a dozen forks and knives. Very quickly, he feels completely isolated from boys his own age and he is surrounded by pretty stern servants. Only the chauffeur shows some affection for him. In the meantime, his mother has married the foreman and when he learns the news in a letter, Gribiche is heartbroken. The American lady likes to show him off to her visitors and tells some dreadful lies about his former life, describing it as some kind of Dickensian tale with a sordid squalor.
On the 14th of July, Gribiche would very much like to go out to see the fireworks and ball in the streets. No way! the American lady declares it as unhygienic. Gribiche puts on his former clothes and taking advantage of the servant's absence runs away. He goes to eat an ice-cream and enjoys a nice evening. As it gets later, he starts walking towards his mother's home. He is reunited with her and well accepted by his new stepfather. The boy tells his mother he went with the American lady because he thought he was an hindrance for her marriage.
The American widow vows never to see him again as she declares the boy ungrateful. But, when he comes to visit with his mother, she relents. They end up having diner together rather unpretentiously as most of the servants have left. She gives him a check to help with his studies and tells him to stay with his own mother. The last scene shows the boy having a happy diner with his parents and some friends in a small popular restaurant eating snails.

This was another great Feyder silent. The acting from Jean Forest (13) was top notch as well as from Françoise Rosay. The film showed the huge gap in living conditions between the super-rich of the time (servants, huge mansion, chauffeurs, designer clothes) and the lower-middle-class. It also showed that money cannot buy everything and in the end, the American lady realised that she could be generous unselflessly by helping the boy with his own mother. The set design by Lazare Meerson was superb as usual: showy luxurious interior for the American widow and typical middle-class furnitures for the mother. Feyder used cleverly the streets of Paris. This is another great Feyder that deserves a DVD very quickly together with Les Nouveaux Messieurs (1929), another brilliant comedy I saw last year. :D

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charliechaplinfan
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Postby charliechaplinfan » February 25th, 2008, 3:47 pm

That sounds like such a good movie. I've liked the Feyder silents I've seen.

I got to see Quality Street with Marion Davies. Set in the early 19th century Marion plays Phoebe who is being courted by Conrad Nagel playing Dr Valentine Brown or Dr V B. Across the street live three very nosey female neighbours. Rather presumptuously everyone seems certain that Dr V B will propose to Phoebe when he sends a message to her to tell her has something to say to her. What he needs to tell her is that he has joined the army to fight the Napoleonic Wars. Years pass and Phoebe and her sister are in reduced circumstances and are teaching the local children. Dr V B returns but is visibly shocked at Phoebe's appearance, no longer is she the vibrant young girl he left behind. On seeing his discomfort Phoebe decides to play a trick and introduces her niece Miss Livvy. Phoebe poses as her niece and flirts terribly with the doctor. The doctor responds and Phoebe is distraught, she vows never to see him again. He has other plans and calls round to see them. He discovers the trick and cleverly manages to redeem himself.

I found myself quite angry with the Doctor, how could he desert the poor Phoebe who still looked beautiful but not as vibrant. Conrad Nagel did acquit himself well, I preferred him playing opposite Marion Davies than playing opposite Garbo, they seem better suited.

Also on this disc was a brilliant documentary on Marion Davies. I think it should be put on the DVD release of Citizen Kane and should be compulsory watching for anyone who thinks that Susan Alexander is Marion Davies. She should be more famous for her performances rather than her private life.

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charliechaplinfan
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Postby charliechaplinfan » February 26th, 2008, 1:59 pm

I've been watching Lon Chaney in Mr Wu. How does he manage to completely change his appearance. He truly looked Japanese, I've seen some very bad makeup jobs on more recent films. Seems to me Lon set the standard in screen makeup that everyone else should be benchmarked against.

Renee Adoree's makeup was quite convincing. If she didn't have the very beautiful Anna May Wong next to her I would be very easy to accept Renee Adoree in the role of Mr Wu's daughter. I can't help thinking how brilliant Anna May Wong would be in the character of Nang Ping. It seems such a shame that prejudice should get in the way of a girl from the right ethnic background getting the part.




The sets on this film are worth a mention. They almost detract from the onscreen action they are that good.

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Gagman 66
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Postby Gagman 66 » February 26th, 2008, 5:26 pm

Alison,

:) CAPTURED ON FILM: THE REAL MARION DAVIES documentary is from 2000, and first appeared on TCM. Must confess I have yet to see all of QUALITY STREET, even though I have had this DVD for about 4 years now. I will have to find time to look at it.

:( I have a mediocre bootleg of THE CARDBOARD LOVER from Forgotten Films. The picture has allot of Chemical decomposition through much of the movie, but the musical score is very good.

:roll: The original ending of MR. WU is lost. It showed Wu and his daughter Nang Ping both descending into Heaven on a beam of light. The disturbing thing about MR. WU, is it is clearly not just his daughter that is sacrificed, but her unborn Child!

:o You are not the first person who commented that Renee Adoree, should not have been cast as the daughter. That being said, she gives an emotion charged performance, I feel one of her best in a demanding role. The supporting cast with Louise Dresser, and Ralph Forbs is complimentary. Anna Mae Wong was perhaps under utilized, and could have been given a good deal more to do.

:) Melisande in THE BIG PARADE like Renee herself, was French. So was Madame Fifi Lorraine I assume, in THE BLACKBIRD. Her character in LA BOHEME, which escapes me at the moment was also French. But in roles such as Josephita is TIDE OF THE EMPIRE, in which she played a Winsome Spanish heroine, and Catharine the Russian immigrant girl in THE MATING CALL, Renee proved that she could play a wide variety of roles and nationalities quite convincingly.

Ann,

:D I am intrigued with the Feyder films, as I have only seen CRAINQUEBILLE, and FACES OF CHILDREN so far. Both were excellent. Check that I have also seen Garbo's THE KISS, which Jacque Feyder directed. I wonder how many of his other movies still survive?

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Ann Harding
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Postby Ann Harding » February 27th, 2008, 8:36 am

Hi Gagman!

As far as I know the following French silents by Jacques Feyder are still extant:
L'atlantide (1921)
Crainquebille (1922)
Visages d'Enfants (1924)
Gribiche (1926)
Carmen (1926)
Les Nouveaux Messieurs (1928)

As for his earlier silent shorts, I do not know if they are still extant...probably not. One major silent which is missing is Thérèse Raquin (1928), alas. :(
All of his talkies are still extant, except perhaps some of his Hollywood 'foreign' talkies like Si l'empereur savait ça (1930) and Olympia (1930), repectively the French & German version of His Glorious Night.

One silent serial from 1913 where Feyder appeared as an actor is still extant: Protea

jdb1

Postby jdb1 » February 27th, 2008, 9:57 am

Ann Harding wrote:As for his earlier silent shorts, I do not know if they are still extant...probably not. One major silent which is missing is Thérèse Raquin (1928), alas. :(


Thérèse Raquin is one of my favorite novels, and I'm always foisting on those who haven't read it, and they are always amazed by it. Do you know anything about this film? Is it as "shocking" as the book on which it's based?

This is a tale that would fit very well in today's cinematic world, don't you think? I saw a British television production of it years ago, and it was rather anemic, I thought.[/i]

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Ann Harding
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Postby Ann Harding » February 27th, 2008, 11:20 am

jdb1 wrote:
Ann Harding wrote:As for his earlier silent shorts, I do not know if they are still extant...probably not. One major silent which is missing is Thérèse Raquin (1928), alas. :(


Thérèse Raquin is one of my favorite novels, and I'm always foisting on those who haven't read it, and they are always amazed by it. Do you know anything about this film? Is it as "shocking" as the book on which it's based?

This is a tale that would fit very well in today's cinematic world, don't you think? I saw a British television production of it years ago, and it was rather anemic, I thought.[/i]


I don't know much about the Feyder version. In her book of memoirs, Françoise Rosay says: "It was one of his best pictures. Gina Manès in the title role was admirable."
It's interesting to note that in 1953, Marcel Carné -who used to be Feyder's assistant director- made a very good version of Thérèse Raquin with Simone Signoret. The film is brilliant. You can get it on DVD in the US from Kino.

jdb1

Postby jdb1 » February 27th, 2008, 1:15 pm

Thanks for the tip. I can certainly see Signoret in the part. The British version I saw had, I think, a very young Kate Nelligan as Thérèse, and she just wasn't up to the demands of the role.

By the way, anyone who isn't familiar with Thérèse Raquin, Emile Zola's first novel, should certainly read it. It is lightyears ahead of its time (as were most of Zola's books), and was considered pornographic in its day (not by today's standards, though; it's very strong in its descriptions of a lustful extramarital affair, but hardly prurient).

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Postby Jezebel38 » February 27th, 2008, 1:43 pm

It's interesting to note that in 1953, Marcel Carné -who used to be Feyder's assistant director- made a very good version of Thérèse Raquin with Simone Signoret. The film is brilliant.


I recently watched this - via Netflix - as I was searching for more Marcel Carne titles. I don't read much, so I can't compare to the novel, but this is a very good film, and well cast. My introduction to Raf Vallone - in a word - wow!

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charliechaplinfan
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Postby charliechaplinfan » February 27th, 2008, 4:59 pm

I've just sat down and watched Underworld. A cracking early Von Sternberg work. It has his unmistakeable touches in the direction and attention to detail. I hadn't seen the leads, George Bancroft, Evelyn Brent and Clive Brook in any films before. Evelyn Brent is a very handsome woman, she played a gangster's moll called Feathers which suited her down to the ground. To me she shone brighter than the men in the cast.

Am I right in thinking this was one of the first gangster films and is one of the gangsters modelled on Mr Capone?

I don't feel it is necessary to outline the plot because it is the kind of movie that's better to tell it's story as it goes along.

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Gagman 66
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Postby Gagman 66 » February 28th, 2008, 2:48 am

Ann,

:) Hey, Thanks for all the great info concerning Jacque Feyder! Several of these films I was unfamiliar with.

Alison,

:shock: Luminous Evelyn Brent was a popular Paramount Star during the 20's, but today her name is almost completely unrecognizable. She was generally cast as a highly flirtatious, oversexed Flapper, or Vamp type character. And definitely not an innocent! But in LOVE 'EM LEAVE 'EM (1926) She is the good Sister, trying to keep her younger Holy Terror Sibling Jayne (Louise Brooks), out of constant Mischief!

:oops: Brent was a stunning statuesque Woman, with long pretty legs, and great big Brown eyes. What stands out about her is the way She carried herself in her films. She had a natural swagger about her that was very becoming. As an actress she is very underrated. I was quite taken with her the first time I saw her in Von Sternberg's THE LAST COMMAND (1928), opposite Emil Janning's, and William Powell.

:o You may grow to appreciate George Bancroft, and Clive Brook more as you get to see some of their other roles. Films like THE DOCKS OF NEW YORK (1928), with Betty Compson, and BARBED WIRE (1927), with Pola Negri, will definitely leave an impression.

:? Bancroft a big strapping Joe, like Victor McLaglen is another in the line of rather Brutish tuff's, for leading men that seemed to become more prevalent in the second half of the 20's? In-fact, A Female reviewer in 1928 I've read, after seeing McLaglen's A GIRL IN EVERY PORT commented, "My Goodness, where are all the good looking guy's in the movies anymore!" I got a big kick out of that! I also have Bancroft in James Cruze OLD IRONSIDES (1926), but I was to busy ogling the extremely beautiful Esther Ralston in that picture, to have any idea if Bancroft was any good in it or not! :lol: For the benifit of you ladies, Handsome Charles Farrell Stars. Although, He is pretty busy ogling Esther himself!
:wink:

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charliechaplinfan
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Postby charliechaplinfan » February 28th, 2008, 4:36 pm

Gagman, you are a mine of information on Silent stars and films :) Of all the stars of Underworld Evelyn Brent shone the most for me. I liked Clive Brook more when he was unshaven he looked more dangerous.

I've just watched Toll Of The Sea from the American Treasures set. I've seen it before but a very bad copy. This copy is so vibrant and radiant in colour, it's beautiful. It's reflected best in the clothes and decoartion of Lotus Flower's home. The story is enclosed within the stunning pictures of the sea. The story is so moving and a little painful. Is it just me because I have a boy the same age? When I say painful it's almost cleansing. Now I sound mad, but I know what I mean.

I'm also reading a book on Anna May so the two go hand in hand. How expressive she is and how graceful. What tiny and exquistite hands she has too.


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