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Douglas Fairbanks In Prime-time!

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Gagman 66
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Douglas Fairbanks In Prime-time!

Postby Gagman 66 » March 20th, 2008, 11:46 pm

:D Wow! A MODERN MUSKETEER (1917), which debuted on TCM earlier this evening, was great fun! This early Doug Fairbanks feature Directed by long time collaborator Alan Dwan, certainly exceeded my expectations! A fast paced adventure, with Doug performing a whole cadenza of his amazing acrobatics, right and left! A prime example of why Fairbanks was known as "Mister Hollywood"!

:( Today Doug's name is remembered, but not so much the films that He actually made. Which is quite sad. His overall impact on the Cinema in general has by and large been overlooked, even by many Silent film enthusiast's. Some have clearly ignored his work, or dismissed it, out of hand as being formulaic, and lighthearted fair. This is so wrong!

:o Produced some 11 years before Buster Keaton's STEAMBOAT BILL JUNIOR was released, the Cyclone sequence in A MODERN MUSKETEER was strikingly similar, and surprisingly impressive! Irony, of Ironies it even takes place in Kansas, and Buster was born in that State in the middle of raging Cyclone in 1895!

At this early stage of his career, Doug was often referred to as "THE DASHING AMERICAN", and that is the character that we saw this evening. Very nice restoration by Lobster films of Paris, with a solid Score by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra! , And I had never seen this movie anywhere before!

Doug's considerable artistic influence on both Keaton, and Harold Lloyd is painfully obvious in this feature! And Fairbanks to his credit could be a brilliant comedian in his own right. He was just naturally very funny! Doug kind of Strikes you as the Ultimate practical joker, and He probably was? A born Entertainer to be sure!

:? TCM has not run much of Fairbanks feature films at all in the past. I only recall maybe two or three of them? Hopefully, they will be showing a few more like WILD AND WOOLLY for example, and THE AMERICANO! I would love to see those! And TCM has never broadcast THE GAUCHO, among many other titles!

:lol: This film was pure Entertainment! Funny, Clever, and an all around good time! True Saturday Afternoon Matinee Cinema! Did you see Doug scale that church tower in just a few seconds! Simply Incredible! I wonder, wasn't that actually a rather Skinny looking young J. Farrell McDonald as the Indian rival or was I seeing things??? Just imagine an Irish Indian???

:lol: Fairbanks considered himself more a Man of Action than He did an Actor. He always said "I'm a personality performer, People like me for my Smile!" And indeed it was all about "Showmanship" with him! but this undermines his overall depth of Talent, he often scripted his own films under the guise of "Elton Thomas", and was a very capable Director.

Positively no one was more athletic than Doug was! A Genuine human dynamo! From a stand-point of physical dexterity, poise and graceful movement, there has never been anyone else quite like him in the history of the movies! He routinely made the most outrageous and demanding stunt look like a mere walk in the park! Everything seemed so spontaneous, and effortless on his part! To say the lest. Simply astonishing! Anyway thanks so much to TCM for debuting this fine early and little known Fairbanks vehicle in Prime-time this evening! What a rare treat!
Last edited by Gagman 66 on March 21st, 2008, 1:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Lzcutter » March 21st, 2008, 1:54 am

Jeffrey,

I love Doug, Sr. Have from the first time I saw on the screen over forty years ago.

As I said over at TCM City, I don't think anyone enjoyed making films as much as Doug. He just radiates enthusiasm on the screen and looks like he is having a field day.

When the tornado hit, I thought at first they had used out-takes from Steamboat Bill, Jr. Then I reminded myself that this was made in 1917, years before Steamboat Bill.

The man climbed to the top of the church steeple and made it look like he was going for a Sunday stroll. He scampered up that ladder at the Indian ruins like it was no big deal.

He was incredibly athletic and good actor to boot.

I wish TCM would show more of his silents. They could start with The Mystery of the Leaping Fish where he plays Coke Enniday, a detective.

Love that name.

I adore Doug, Sr.
Last edited by Lzcutter on March 21st, 2008, 1:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Gagman 66 » March 21st, 2008, 3:12 am

Izcutter,

:? Both Fairbanks and Pickford's films are just not that well known. The names are remembered, but the Movies are not! It's ridiculous how underrated they are! Even among Silent film fans and historians, their pictures have been largely ignored!

:o What really impresses is the shere number of outstanding films that they both made and the level of consistency! Clearly, neither is given the credit they so justly deserve!

:( TCM has aired precious little of Fairbanks in the past. I remember seeing both THE MARK OF ZORRO in a couple different versions, and THE THIEF OF BAGDAD with the Gaylord Carter score. That was in 1999 I believe? However, it is possible that earlier in the 90's that they ran the Thames version with the Carl Davis score of the latter?

:shock: I say this because AMC for many years used to have the broadcast rights to most of the Kino Fairbanks releases not TCM. Same with the Kino Keaton's. Meaning TCM had to air different versions to show anything. It was the same with THE MARK OF ZORRO, AMC ran the Gaylord Carter scored version, TCM the Bill Perry scored one.

:roll: In addition, AMC ran THE THREE MUSKETEERS, ROBIN HOOD, THE BLACK PIRATE, DON Q. SON OF ZORRO, and THE GAUCHO from time to time. To my knowledge none of these titles have ever been shown on TCM? However, TCM did run the Doug Jr. narrated version of THE IRON MASK, I do remember that? But not the Channel Four Silent's version with the Carl Davis score.

:x Those old contracts with AMC are certainly no longer an issue. So I have no idea why more Fairbanks features haven't been shown? Oddly enough Buster's SEVEN CHANCES (1925) has also yet to make it's TCM debut! Probably my favorite Keaton film!

:roll: As for Pickford, I would really like to see TCM premier THROUGH THE BACK DOOR, and LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY. I consider both to be among Mary's very best. The Milestone DVD releases of these two films are really exceptional. If you have not seen either of these, than you should definitely check them out!
Last edited by Gagman 66 on March 21st, 2008, 1:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby charliechaplinfan » March 21st, 2008, 7:18 am

At least Pickford and Fairbanks have had quite a few of their films issued on DVD.

Strange that TCM hasn't aired some of them though.
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Postby moira finnie » March 21st, 2008, 10:54 am

I was unexpectedly overjoyed by the sight of Douglas Fairbanks Sr.'s infectious smile throughout A Modern Musketeer (1917). I love the way that--even when Fairbanks was supposed to be alone in a room--he still smiled to himself! This guy was utterly charming and a delightful screen actor. I've just added a slew of Doug's movies to my Netflix queue. Hope to have a Fairbanks night soon at Chez Finnie.

This movie was a sheer delight from the beginning to end. I kept imagining a curly haired little boy in a 1917 audience who might have gone home to the family farm to reenact in the barn all the preposterous feats of derring-do so enthusiastically performed by Doug. (That little boy in my imagination might easily have been my Dad, who shared a sprightly boyish charm with this actor well into his last years).

I certainly thank TCM for showing this great piece of entertainment. Though I've seen Fairbanks' movies in the past none of them caught my attention in quite the way that this one did last night. Do I hear a groundswell of support for a star of the month spot for Douglas Fairbanks Sr.?
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Postby Ann Harding » March 21st, 2008, 11:16 am

Count me in! :D except that I cannot watch TCM US over here.... :(
I am a huge fan of Doug ever since I first saw him The Thief of Bagdad twenty years ago. 8) I am planning to got to see Don Q, Son of Zorro on a big screen pretty soon. :)
My favourites so far: The Black Pirate, Mystery of The Leaping Fish, The Thief of Bagdad. He had this boyish enthusiasm coupled with the graceful movements of a dancer.
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Postby moira finnie » March 21st, 2008, 11:26 am

Great to hear from you on this Ann. Mystery of The Leaping Fish (1916) is one Fairbanks movie I haven't seen. From the description on IMDb it sounds like fun. I just found it here on YouTube!.

A character named Coke Ennyday (Doug), Bessie Love, Tod Browning & D.W. Griffith as writers, and drug humor?! This I gotta see.
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Postby Lzcutter » March 21st, 2008, 12:08 pm

Moira,

Count me in on wanting Doug, Sr as star of the month. I would love to see his films on TCM!

The man is so under appreciated that any spotlight thrown on him is a-okay with me!
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Postby Gagman 66 » March 21st, 2008, 12:58 pm

Izcutter,

:D You bet yah, Doug Sr. As "TCM Star of The Month" would be fabulous! But I am not so sure there are enough of his films restored? A sad thing to say, but this could be true?

:) So how about a joint "Fairbanks/Pickford Month" on TCM instead? Mary has never been in that kind of a Spotlight either! Maybe 15 films a piece? Several of the Pickford Milestone's still have yet to debut on TCM, including THE LITTLE PRINCESS (1919), HEART O' THE HILLS (1919), LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY (1921), and THROUGH THE BACK DOOR (1921).

:roll: The Pickford Foundation version of SPARROWS (1926) likewise has not aired. And I am still holding out fervent hope for newly restored, scored, and re-mastered versions of POLLYANNA (1920), and LITTLE ANNIE ROONEY (1925) as well! Not to mention POOR LITTLE RICH GIRL (1917), and DOROTHY VERNON OF HADDON HALL (1924) too!

:shock: If Milestone is coming out with a new Box-set of Fairbanks titles, we could finally be seeing the Kevin Brownlow- David Gill Thames/Photo-Play Productions restoration of THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1924), with the awesome Carl Davis score on official DVD! It's absurd that this version is not around.

:? Also maybe some new and exciting scores to some of the other features like ROBIN HOOD (1922), and DON Q SON OF ZORRO (1925)! Both of which could definitely use better scores on DVD.

:wink: Note: I apologize to everyone for putting this entire post in bold, but my glasses broke this morning! Without them I can't see none to well! So please bare with me! Thanks.

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Postby Lzcutter » March 21st, 2008, 1:09 pm

Jeffrey,

I would love to see "The Three Musketeers" and "The Iron Mask" included as well.

His poignant comment when he saw a soundstage (and it's jondaris' sig line):

"The romance of motion picture making ends here."


"The Iron Mask" is used at the end of Brownlow's "Hollywood" series as well to mark the end of the silent days giving way to talkies and the major studios.
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Postby Ann Harding » March 21st, 2008, 1:25 pm

Gagman 66 wrote: :shock: If Milestone is coming out with a new Box-set of Fairbanks titles, we could finally be seeing the Kevin Brownlow- David Gill Thames/Photo-Play Productions restoration of THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1924), with the awesome Carl Davis score on official DVD! It's absurd that this version is not around.

I completely agree. I saw the Brownlow/Carl Davis version on TV years ago: it is by far the best version. Why is NOT on DVD????? :(

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Postby Gagman 66 » March 21st, 2008, 1:31 pm

Izcutter,

:shock: Please note, the "Channel Four Silent's Presentation" (Great Britain), of THE IRON MASK produced in 1999, with the Carl Davis score actually is out on DVD! Has been for a number of years!

:o It was included on the Second Edition of the Doug Sr. "KiNG OF HOLLYWOOD" box set from Kino released in 2003! The older Box set probably came out in 1998? Anyway, the Brownlow-Stansbury version replaced the 1953 re-issue with Doug Jr's Spoken dialogue in the revised collection! So you can see it right now! You just have to find the right release! Copies of the earlier version are probably still floating around? I know it can be confusing.

:cry: I agree, used as the climax to the final chapter of Brownlow and Gill magical Thames HOLLYWOOD the footage from THE IRON MASK brings a definite tear to my Eye every time I see it! Very powerful! Doug loved making movies, and kind of quickly lost interest once the Talkies took over. It would never be the same.


A nice well produced documentary on Fairbanks is long over-due. About the only thing I have seen is THE AMERICAN SWASHBUCKLER from the budget outfit Delta Entertaiment. Though it is remarkably well done.

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Postby Lzcutter » March 21st, 2008, 1:53 pm

Jeffrey,

I have seen both movies and I love them. If TCM were to have a Fairbanks tribute or a Fairbanks/Pickford tribute, I would hope they would include those movies as well.

I agree that a documentary on Fairbanks is long overdue and it would make a great companion piece to the Pickford documentary that aired on PBS two years ago.

Last year there were rumors floating around that Brownlow and Photoplay wanted to produce a Fairbanks documentary but they could not find the financial backing and had to abandon the idea.

How sad is that!
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Postby Gagman 66 » March 21st, 2008, 2:16 pm

Ann,

:? Well, the Thames version of Fairbanks/Raoul Walsh THE THIEF OF BAGDAD, was released on Laser-disc in the late 80's, or early 90's. I have it on DVD-R, with a whopping 18 page menu that I designed. Unless the official DVD is re-mastered like he Thames version of FLESH AND THE DEVIL was on the Fairbanks Silent set, it won't look much different than the LD transfer does.

:roll: There are three reasons this version is not on DVD that I can see. One the newer Kino print with the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra score is a little longer. A few bits and pieces of footage, that was not known to exist when the Kevin Brownlow edition was produced have since been found and reinstated. 2 is the problem to the rights of a Carl Davis musical score. He simply does not come cheap.

:x So it's royalties to both Brownlow's Photo-play Productions, and Carl Davis. Which could explain why the Channel Four Silent's Photo-play Productions restoration of WINGS did not air on TCM last month as everyone expected? Even the Harold Lloyd Trust passed on the expense of a Davis score to THE FRESHMAN, instead hiring Robert Israel to come up with a different score for the DVD release.

To his credit Israel produced a wonderful score for THE FRESHMAN, but I have long wanted to hear the Davis score. In defense of the Trust they did at least retain the rights to the Davis scores from the earlier Thames versions for Lloyd's SAFETY LAST, THE KID BROTHER and SPEEDY. And I would be re-miss to infer that Robert Israel works for peanuts either! I am sure that is not the case!

:shock: Another dilemma could be that Thames Television no longer exists? Though they actually have been a non-entity for about 18 years now. Nonetheless, I am assuming Film 4 in Britain could run pretty much any of the Thames/Channel Four Silent's series if they wanted too? Last month they re-aired the Photo-play version of De Mille's THE GODLESS GIRL (1928), with the Carl Davis score which they debuted last April. This version has not been released on DVD, or shown on TCM so far.

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Postby cinemalover » March 21st, 2008, 5:59 pm

I was able to record it, but haven't had a chance to watch it yet. I love Fairbanks and am happy to hear that he's at his athletic best in this outing.
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