The most important thing is to enjoy your life - to be happy - it's all that matters.
- Audrey Hepburn

He Who Gets Slapped (1924)

Discussion of programming on TCM.

Moderators: Sue Sue Applegate, movieman1957, moira finnie, Lzcutter

User avatar
Mr. Arkadin
Posts: 2657
Joined: April 14th, 2007, 3:00 pm

He Who Gets Slapped (1924)

Postby Mr. Arkadin » June 2nd, 2007, 5:05 pm

Comes on tomorrow for Silent Sunday Nights. This was of Lon Chaney's greatest roles and also has the honor of being the very first MGM film. Also starring Norma Shearer, John Gilbert, and a wonderful performance by Tully Marshall.

If you don't usually watch silents give this one a try. It's something different to be sure:

A man disillusioned with life becomes a clown in a circus reliving his pain in an act where he is physically slapped night after night. Are you out there Dr. Phil?

User avatar
Dewey1960
Posts: 2514
Joined: April 17th, 2007, 7:52 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Postby Dewey1960 » June 2nd, 2007, 5:29 pm

Mr. A wrote: "This was one of Lon Chaney's greatest roles..."

Mr. Arkadin said a mouthful there! The brilliant Mr. Chaney had already appeared in probably over 100 films (including THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME) before doing HE WHO GETS SLAPPED, but without a doubt this is the film that established him once and for all as the greatest actor of his generation (and probably a few subsequent others). Many of the films that followed in his career borrowed heavily from the twisted, sado-masochistic nature of what he does here: shamelessly pitiful psychological bare nakedness in the name of unrequited love: no one ever did it better before or since. If this Sunday night's screening is the same print / version TCM ran a couple of years ago (as I recall it) the musical score used was quite impressive. Not to be missed!

User avatar
Kyle In Hollywood
Moderator
Posts: 110
Joined: April 15th, 2007, 11:55 am
Location: Hollywood, CA

Postby Kyle In Hollywood » June 2nd, 2007, 8:30 pm

Don't know much about the film but the poster is a stunner!

Image

kjk
Kyle In Hollywood

User avatar
Mr. Arkadin
Posts: 2657
Joined: April 14th, 2007, 3:00 pm

Postby Mr. Arkadin » June 2nd, 2007, 9:14 pm

Yes, that's a great poster. I have no idea why TCM would not have released this on their Archives edition. It's a much better film than the Ace of Hearts. My only guess is that they were trying to get the score redone at the time. I have a DVD-r of the old score and Dewey is right about the new one--it fits the film much better.

This film also has a lot of interesting wipes and shots. There are clearly more than a few great ideas here. Chaney's clown carrying around a small stuffed toy heart while his own is being broken is so moving you're ready to rip out yours and give it to him.

I have heard that TCM will be releasing a Vol. 2 of Chaney films possibly including this one. I would suggest setting the recorder anyway though.

User avatar
traceyk
Posts: 294
Joined: May 25th, 2007, 11:59 am
Location: Ohio

Postby traceyk » June 9th, 2007, 10:26 am

I'd never seen Lon Chaney in a movie before--just stills. Wow. I love the way he telegraphed his emotions with his whole body. And Norma Shearer was so fresh-faced and lovely--perfect innocent girl in love. The "people are cruel" theme was hammered home a little hard, though--all those people laughing hysterically over the clown getting slapped around and his heart stamped on.

My only complaint was John Gilbert--does he always show "true love" by mimicking a pole-axed ox? Eek. He did that in "Flesh and the Devil" and "Love" too. And the clown interludes--they just distracted me--what was that about?

Tracey
"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. "~~Wilde

SSO Admins
Administrator
Posts: 851
Joined: April 5th, 2007, 7:27 pm
Contact:

Postby SSO Admins » June 9th, 2007, 11:04 am

traceyk wrote:My only complaint was John Gilbert--does he always show "true love" by mimicking a pole-axed ox? Eek. He did that in "Flesh and the Devil" and "Love" too. And the clown interludes--they just distracted me--what was that about?

Tracey


Gilbert was an actor who needed a strong director to slap him around. His best performance was in King Vidor's The Big Parade, where he did a fine and subtle job. Left to his own devices, he would ham it up horribly.

The rumors about Gilbert having a high voice, thereby destroying his career in talkies, simply weren't true. But neither were the conspiracy theories -- Mayer was not about to attempt to ruin an actor that was making money for him, regardless of his personal feelings. I think it was less his voice but the fact that he was unable to adapt his acting style to talking pictures that ruined him.
Last edited by SSO Admins on June 9th, 2007, 1:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Mr. Arkadin
Posts: 2657
Joined: April 14th, 2007, 3:00 pm

Postby Mr. Arkadin » June 9th, 2007, 1:12 pm

That and his drinking.

User avatar
moira finnie
Administrator
Posts: 8176
Joined: April 9th, 2007, 6:34 pm
Location: Earth
Contact:

John Gilbert in Downstairs (1932)

Postby moira finnie » June 9th, 2007, 1:23 pm

Speaking of John Gilbert, has anyone ever seen Downstairs (1932), which Gilbert wrote with Lenore Coffee? His acting in that one is supposed to be restrained, modern (by '30s standards), and appropriately cynical, as befits the amoral character that he plays.

User avatar
Dewey1960
Posts: 2514
Joined: April 17th, 2007, 7:52 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Postby Dewey1960 » June 9th, 2007, 1:35 pm

Moira,
DOWNSTAIRS (directed by the underrated and relatively unknown Monta Bell) is not only Gilbert's finest hour in talkies, but one of the best examples of pre-code, adult Hollywood filmmaking. It's a shattering portrayal of a thoroughly immoral man, obssessed with his own personal advancement, regardless of the damage wrought to others. Rendered somewhat in the style (pictorially, at least) of Lubitsch, the film tackles issues of class distinction in a most unnerving and unflinching manner--even by pre-code standards. In DOWNSTAIRS, Gilbert once and for all puts to rest any notions that his acting suffered from the advent of sound!
TCM has run this film several times (my copy was taped off TCM about ten years ago) and is absolutely one film that everyone should be on the look-out for.
I have screened this film theatrically a number of times in San Francisco to very enthusiastic crowds!

User avatar
moira finnie
Administrator
Posts: 8176
Joined: April 9th, 2007, 6:34 pm
Location: Earth
Contact:

Postby moira finnie » June 9th, 2007, 1:57 pm

Thanks Dewey, I appreciate your informed confirmation of the anecdotal reputation of the film in all pre-code literature that I've come across in my reading. I have seen a clip of this film during the Complicated Women documentary that TCM has run based on Mick LaSalle's book, in which he touches on this movie, as I believe he does in the lesser companion book, "Dangeous Men" as well. The glimpsed moment from Downstairs doesn't show Mr. Gilbert, but features the lovely, under rated Virginia Bruce defiantly expressing her dissatisfaction with their sex life to her dull hubby Paul Lukas. Poor Paul...

I've never seen Downstairs scheduled on TCM over the last 10 years and haven't been able to find any copies on vhs/dvd either. Guess I'll have to wait for this one to appear as if by magic--unless of course, someone knows where I might acquire a copy?
Last edited by moira finnie on June 9th, 2007, 2:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Dewey1960
Posts: 2514
Joined: April 17th, 2007, 7:52 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Postby Dewey1960 » June 9th, 2007, 2:12 pm

Moira wrote: "The glimpsed moment from Downstairs doesn't show Mr. Gilbert, but features the lovely, under rated Virginia Bruce defiantly expressing her dissatisfaction with their sex life to her dull hubby Paul Lukas. Poor Paul..."

This is a particularly painful aspect to watch in DOWNSTAIRS, so believable is Ms. Bruce's agonizing sexual frustration over her husband's inability to perform. It must be said, though, that Mr. Gilbert receives a spectacular comeuppance at the hands of this cuckolded husband!

User avatar
Lzcutter
Administrator
Posts: 3180
Joined: April 12th, 2007, 6:50 pm
Location: Lake Balboa and the City of Angels!
Contact:

Postby Lzcutter » June 10th, 2007, 3:25 am

The rumors about Gilbert having a high voice, thereby destroying his career in talkies, simply weren't true. But neither were the conspiracy theories -- Mayer was not about to attempt to ruin an actor that was making money for him, regardless of his personal feelings. I think it was less his voice but the fact that he was unable to adapt his acting style to talking pictures that ruined him.>>

Jon,

Excellent point about Gilbert and his inability to adapt his acting style to talkies.

This is very evident during moments of Queen Christina. When he is in an intimate scene with Garbo, he is wonderful. But he has a few cringe inducing moments when discovering she is Queen Christina and such. Those bulging eyes that he used so well in silents do not translate well to talkies.

As for He Who Must Get Slapped, I enjoyed the film but what I enjoyed most was the wonderful neon signage in both He and Wonder Bar. Oh, to have those signs in my back yard.
Lynn in Lake Balboa

"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."

"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

Avatar-Warner Bros Water Tower

User avatar
CoffeeDan
Posts: 141
Joined: April 25th, 2007, 1:53 pm
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Contact:

Postby CoffeeDan » June 13th, 2007, 1:11 am

jondaris wrote:The rumors about Gilbert having a high voice, thereby destroying his career in talkies, simply weren't true.


Welllllll . . . yes and no. True, Gilbert did have a pleasant voice of tenor pitch -- the first time I heard his voice in QUEEN CHRISTINA, he reminded me of David Niven. But remember that we're hearing it today under optimum conditions in state-of-the-art technology.

Back in the early days of the talkies, things were a lot different. "The talkies of today still sound like a 1923 radio," said one review in a 1929 issue of Liberty. Early movie speakers used a combination of electronic transmission and acoustic amplification. They were like telephone receivers with horns.

As a result, they had practically no bass response. I've heard radio speakers and headphones from the 1920s (which employ similar technology), and low voices came out better than high voices, which could sound pinched and nasal. Really high voices produce a buzz. The distortion was bad enough that I could imagine John Gilbert sounding like a Martian in his first talkies! The "live" acoustic in most theaters of the period, which can make high sounds harsh, probably didn't help either.

User avatar
Mr. Arkadin
Posts: 2657
Joined: April 14th, 2007, 3:00 pm

Postby Mr. Arkadin » June 13th, 2007, 6:47 am

Given my recording knowlege and use of older equipment this sounds very plausible.

All the older technology was tube based though so what we hear out of a high frequency horn today from a solidstate circuit is nothing like the older sounds where most of the highs above 4k are gone and the mids are emphasized. Still no bass though.

It wasn't till the Beatles and mid 60's technology came along that you could actually put more bass on a record without making the needle jump. Motown was trying to do this, but their studio was only 2 track (an amazing engineering and mixing feat when you considered how many pieces they were laying down--and in MONO!).


Return to “Movies and Features on TCM”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests