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Douglas Fairbanks In Prime-time!

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charliechaplinfan
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Postby charliechaplinfan » March 22nd, 2008, 1:53 pm

moirafinnie wrote: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.


The Mystery of The Leaping Fish is included on this disc

http://www.amazon.com/Gaucho-Joe-Murphy ... 734&sr=8-1

if you can't get it off Netflix it is worth the purchase price. The Gaucho features Mary Pickford as the Virgin Mary. Doug's never looked more virile believe me. It also has Lupe Velez as his leading lady.

My favorite Doug movies The Thief Of Bagdad and The Black Pirate

I'd love to see Robin Hood and The Iron Mask.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: Douglas Fairbanks In Prime-time!

Postby movieman1957 » April 28th, 2009, 12:01 pm

I watched Fairbanks' "The Mark of Zorro." It is an odd picture to me. Maybe it is my unfamiliarity with silents other than comedies. Fairbanks plays the exciting Zorro and the incredibly nerdly and almost always exhausted alter ego Don Diego. Not much happens along the way but when the climax of the movie comes we finally get to see Fairbanks' prowess as an athlete. Most of the climax is what might be called a "free run." This is like the opening of the Bond "Casino Royale." He runs, leaps, climbs, swings and fights his way through the Mexican equivalent of the Keystone Cops. There must be twenty guys chasing him all with swords raised as if he were within reach at any second. Up until then it is fairly uneventful with overly romantic and over-the-top title cards. There is some nice subtle humor especially the last shot of the film.

Oddly the moustache carried by Zorro disappears when Don Diego appears.
Chris

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: Douglas Fairbanks In Prime-time!

Postby charliechaplinfan » April 28th, 2009, 1:27 pm

I think it's an odd movie too. I can't take at all to Don Diego. I know with this movie Doug was edging his bets, if this didn't make it he would go back to the light comedies he was famous for and perhaps that is why Don Diego is styled as he is. Not too much of a change for his regular audience. The movie really comes to life when Zorro appears and the ending is pure Fairbanks. He tried to outdo himself with every consequetive movie. This Fairbanks was even more popular and sent Doug's career off in the swashbuckling direction that he is best known for.

I'm going to watch The Iron Mask, his last swashbuckler tonight, hopefully. I'll let you know how it compares. Fairbanks is one of my favorite silent actors and fully deserving of his reputation and more.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: Douglas Fairbanks In Prime-time!

Postby MichiganJ » April 28th, 2009, 3:14 pm

Guess I'm the odd man out here because I think The Mark of Zorro is terrific. It took Fairbanks a lot of time to finally come up with a role that would enable him to use his natural athleticism along with his comedic talents.

I've been working my way through the fabulous box set Douglas Fairbanks: A Modern Musketeer, and, while the set is magnificent, it's quite obvious that Fairbanks was not a great actor. It matters little, in most of the films, and he gets better with each one (with some exceptions). Zorro was a natural extension of these light comedies and really did provide that stepping stone to his later out-right swashbucklers (which, I would include Zorro among). Zorro is the last film in the 6-disc set, and I'm looking forward to seeing the new transfer (and score).

So far here's what I've seen:

His Picture in the Papers--the always affable Doug establishes his comedic screen persona in this wonderful comedy about the son of a successful health food magnate. But Doug is a meat eater, and when he's out sneaking a giant steak, he spies a beautiful woman, herself a carnivore, and it's love at first bite. But in order for Doug to be able to marry her, he must first make good at his dad's company. His dad insists on getting publicity for his business, and thus the plot is finally set: Doug needs to get his picture in the papers. With the vegetarian sub-text and the obsession with publicity, it's amazing how timely this film is.

The Mystery of the Leaping Fish--Doug has every right to be embarrassed by this mess. Funny, in a sad sort of way, Doug is a coke-addict who is asked to stop the importation of drugs. While the film has its charms, the bad thing is that its notoriety may lead silent film novices to seek it out, and this is not a good introduction to silent films. Bessie Love is drop-dead gorgeous, though.

Flirting With Fate--it takes a long time for the plot to kick in (a problem with all of the early films I've seen so far), but when it finally does, it is devilishly dark. For various reasons Doug tries to kill himself, and when that fails, he hires an assassin to do the job for him. But then his fortunes change, and he no longer wants to die...
The film is a two-reel short stretched into a feature and there's one excruciatingly bad acting scene where Fairbanks over emotes so egregiously one feels embarrassed for him. Doug is miscast, but seeing him in this dark comedy is refreshing and he's quite funny.

The Matrimaniac--the familiar plot of a couple heading off to elope while a controlling father and jilted fiance try to thwart them is funny, but again, a short stretched to feature length. Doug's bounding athleticism is used to good effect. (He jumps around a lot in his other films, too, but for no real reason.)

Wild and Wooly--finally, a feature that is a feature. Okay, there is still a long set-up, which offers Doug the opportunity to overact (and he takes it), but when the plot kicks in, hold onto your hats! Doug is an easterner with a passion for the Old West, and when his father sends him to Arizona to see if a new railroad spur makes sense (his father is a rich railroad magnate--Doug seems to always come from good stock), the people in the Arizona town, knowing of Doug's passion, redecorate their town to resemble the Old West, and when Doug comes to town, his six-shooter a-blazing, well, it's quite obvious that he is not acting: Fairbanks is having the time of his life. Best film in the set (so far).
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Re: Douglas Fairbanks In Prime-time!

Postby charliechaplinfan » April 28th, 2009, 4:22 pm

This is a disc I need to get my hands on at some point. I've only seen The Mystery of the Leaping Fish, it picqued my interest.

I do like The Mark of Zorro, it is just Don Diego that does translate well with me. Zorro himself more than makes up for Diego.

The Iron Mask which I've just watched is brilliant, a fabulous Fairbanks. I haven't watched The Three Musketeers, it didn't appear to matter. I think the pacing of the story was great, the sets some of the most lavish I've seen and Doug himself perhaps never better. What a great way to bow out of silents.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: Douglas Fairbanks In Prime-time!

Postby MichiganJ » May 5th, 2009, 5:19 pm

I finished the fabulous Fairbanks set.

Reaching For the Moon--Doug plays a Walter Mitty-like character who daydreams about hanging out with visiting dignitaries. The plot is filled with unrealized potential and is really only mildly amusing. Would have made a great two-reeler.

A Modern Musketeer--as gagman stated at the beginning of this thread, this is a terrific movie. Funny, exciting and effortless, this is one of Doug's giant links to his later swashbucklers. With the Grand Canyon as his playground, how could the film miss? Great fun.

When the Clouds Roll By--Hands down Doug's best contemporary comedy. An absolutely brilliant satire on the relatively new field of psychology ( a doctor tests his crazy theories on Doug, trying to make him commit suicide), the film boasts and inventive, spectacular (and hysterical) dream sequence (which rivals the "serious" one found in G.W. Pabst's Secrets of a Soul. Suffice to say that Doug is tormented by his late-nite dinner, including a giant onion and a piece of mince pie!)

The Mollycoddle--Fairbanks retreats back to his formula character, the nebbish who turns hero. This time he's an expatriate dandy, who, when he returns to his roots in Arizona, turns into a full fledged cowboy and saves the day. More of the same, unfortunately, but there is a terrific scene involving real Hopi Indians doing a dance. Doug jumps in and grabs one of the Hopi women and does some "modern" steps. It's obviously unstaged and quite endearing.

The Nut--after an inspired opening (involving Doug as a wacky inventor, and the gadgets he's set up to get himself up in the morning), the film, again, is reduced to the same-ol-same-ol. This time, though, there's an odd mix of slapstick (a marvelous sequence involving stolen wax figures), melodrama, and modern comedy, and while the mix doesn't add up to a very satisfying whole, many of the parts are quite amusing (watch for the cameo by "Charlie Chaplin", whom Doug boots in the pants!)

The Mark of Zorro--The restoration looks great, and the score by the Mont Alto Orchestra is terrific. Seen again, after many of Doug's comedies, this film falls right into place, but is leaps and bounds better. It's interesting that Fairbanks was able to find a vehicle that allowed him to keep his formula "lamb" turns "lion" character, but here he is able to play them at the same time. We don't have to wait for Don Diego Vega to become the hero, because we've already seen he is. And what a hero! Zorro's final chase sequence, where he's going to "eat breakfast" is as funny and exciting today as it was in 1920. And Doug looks to be having the time of his life. Even when he's Don Diego, Doug looks comfortable in his performance and, while the character is a total fop, Doug doesn't over act (as he was prone to do in his earlier films). I simply love all of his kerchief tricks, and the payoff with that gag, kissing de la Motte at the film's end, is perfect. Fairbanks didn't just create the swashbuckler, he created the superhero, too. Heck, Zorro even has his own "bat cave"! This one, for me, is a masterpiece.
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Re: Douglas Fairbanks In Prime-time!

Postby Lzcutter » May 6th, 2009, 2:35 am

Doug, how do I love you?

Let me ponder the ways.

I love you for your sheer enjoyment of making movies. Whether early silents like Mystery of the Flying Fish or The Modern Musketeer or your later ones, when he really hit your stride, I've said it before and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'll say it again, no one seemed to love making movies as much as Doug.

He starts to really hit his stride with The Mark of Zorro. Last night's print on TCM was beautifully restored and tinted by David Shepard and Flicker Alley with a tremendous score by Mont Alto Orchestra. But here we see the furthering of the Fairbanks hero started in Modern Musketeer. Devilish and most of all, acrobatic to the nth degree, in Zorro, he runs rings around his adversaries. I saw this years ago on the big screen (but not in nearly as grand print as last night) at the Silent Movie Theater here in the City of Angels.

His next adventure film would be again with Fred Niblo, The Three Musketeers which, sadly, I haven't seen. It is on my wish list of films to see on the big screen and I have only heard wonderful things about the film and especially Fairbanks' swashbuckling.

He followed that with Robin Hood working with director Allan Dwan. Dwan was an engineer at heart and made possible many of Doug's famous stunts in this film. The set was constructed on the United Artist lot in what was then considered west Hollywood (Santa Monica and La Brea). At that time, it was the largest set constructed in Hollywood. The lot changed hands over the years becoming among others, the Goldwyn Lot and the Warner Hollywood lot. Today, it is a large shopping mall with the Formosa Cafe all that really remains of its classic era roots.

Fairbanks seems to have had an affinity with larger than life directors. Dwan, as I said was an engineer at heart, who shared Doug's joy in pushing the outside of the envelop in terms of dare-devil stunts. His next director was Raoul Walsh. Walsh had started as an actor in silent films with D.W. Griffith. He had gotten bored with acting and had a series of adventures (as well as being a hard drinking kind of guy) that ultimately took him south of the border with Pancho Villa.

He managed to funnel all of that into his directing. His turn with Doug brought forth the magical The Thief of Bagdad.

He next teamed with Albert Parker for The Black Pirate. Parts of Pirate were shot in 2-stripe Techincolor and are beautiful to behold. Most of the stunts, however, are reproductions of what Dwan and Fairbanks did in Robin Hood.

He closes out the silent era with the wonderful The Iron Mask working again with Allan Dwan, perhaps the director that best understood how to use his athletic prowess.

I saw this two months ago at a screening at the Academy, intro'd by Kevin Brownlow. Watching the film, I was reminded of Fairbank's comment in Brownlow's wonderful documentary Hollywood that "the romance of film making ends here."

And for Fairbanks, by then in his forties, it really truly seems to have. He made a few talkie films but they never had the verve and just plain joie de vivre that his silents did.

He wrote the stories to many of his best films but at heart, he seems to have loved playing the hero that wows us with his athleticism.

Errol Flynn may have come close with his swordmanship but he lacked Doug's physical grace in big stunts.

We would not really see his like again in film until Burt Lancaster made a series of pirate films in the 1950s.

I continue to hope that TCM will obtain the rights to air Robin Hood, The Three Musketeers and The Iron Mask along with their line-up of Thief and Zorro

I love Doug.
Lynn in Lake Balboa

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Re: Douglas Fairbanks In Prime-time!

Postby Gagman 66 » May 6th, 2009, 6:01 pm

Lynn,

:D Wanted to be sure to mention, for people who don't feel like or can't afford to buy the entire Flicker Alley Box set of A MODERN MUSKETEER, a single DVD of this version of THE MARK OF ZORRO, the very same one that aired on TCM last night can be purchased on the Mont Alto Orchestra web-site!


www-mont-alto.com

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Re: Douglas Fairbanks In Prime-time!

Postby intothenitrate » October 19th, 2012, 9:52 am

I don't have nearly enough Douglas Fairbanks (Sr) films in my collection. I've got The Mark of Zorro and The Iron Mask -- the one that features a voiceover by Doug Jr. One day I'd like to get one of those boxed sets.

Yesterday I received a modest parcel of films which included the much awaited The Private Life of Don Juan (1934). I watched half of it last night, so I won't try to summarize my impressions just yet. While I'm still getting a fix on Fairbanks as a performer in general, cultivating my appreciation of him is complicated by seeing him as a performer in a sound film.
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Re: Douglas Fairbanks In Prime-time!

Postby JackFavell » October 19th, 2012, 9:58 am

I really like The Private Life of Don Juan. I thought it much better than I had heard it was. Of course, it might be because I had low expectations.


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