WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

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

Post by phil noir »

Last night I watched La Boheme (1926). I thought it was good to pretty good, until the closing twenty minutes or so when the direction and Lillian Gish's acting took it to an infinitely higher level. The scene in which the doctor in his little round opaque glasses stood taking snuff and telling Mimi's shocked co-workers that she wouldn't 'last the night' was so eerie: he looked like death come to visit. Then when Mimi was dragging herself back through the streets to be with Rodolphe. It was just incredible. She was like an animal when it knows death is coming. It was shocking to see her dragged along by the cart; and then when she collapsed outside Rodolphe's building and the shadow of a dark coach passed over her - death again - and a wind blew down the street and ruffled her clothes as though she were an autumn leaf. Really powerful stuff.

Poor John Gilbert. He was very handsome and dashing, and every inch the matinee idol, but also something of a ham, I thought. And of course, knowing the manner in which Renee Adoree died a few years later gave the story added poignancy. Interesting too how the story diverged quite a lot from that of the opera.
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Ann Harding
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Post by Ann Harding »

I completely agree Phil Noir, Gish is just wonderful as Mimi. It's a shame that Vidor didn't manage to prevent John Gilbert's overracting. But, try out Gilbert in The Big Parade, in that one Vidor pulled a great performance out of him.

Going back to the previous discussion about 'silent acting', I think the subject is very complex. The more I watch silent films from every periods and countries, the more I realise that there isn't any standard silent acting. In Feuillade or Perret shorts and features of the teens, you get naturalistic acting which seems as fresh and vivid as modern actors. But sometimes, in big French silent films of the 20s, I see some acting that is more dated! It all boils back to the fact that Gaumont actors of the teens were bred as 'pure cinema actors' and developed techniques accordingly. While in the twenties, French producers decided that they needed famous theater actors (to attract the public). Overall, it was a bad move giving many films a stilted acting.
In America, many actors came from the stage in the teens, but quickly they understood they needed to change their acting technique. Just look at Mary Pickford! She understood the movie camera brilliantly. Lillian Gish is also a pure movie product and I cannot think of any other actress who could have the same overwhelming effect on me.
Swedish silent cinema is also an admirable exemple. Theater actors like Sjöström learned quickly the subtle acting required by the camera.
I don't think that Cary Grant, Roz Russell, Kate Hepburn were necessarily more 'modern' (BTW I love them all as well). Anybody who has these notions should pose and watch Vidor's The Crowd. Watch it, take your time. I am sure it will change your perception of silent movie acting.

As for Raymond Griffith, I found Hands Up! really hilarious, up to the very last scene with Brigham Young and his wives. He is probably not a top comedian like Lloyd or Keaton, but nevertheless, this film holds up extremely well, IMHO.
feaito

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

Post by feaito »

Anybody who has these notions should pose and watch Vidor's The Crowd. Watch it, take your time. I am sure it will change your perception of silent movie acting
I completely agree. Perhaps "The Crowd" is the greatest Silent ever made? I have wacthed it already twice and it has had a powerful effect on me each time I've seen it. It makes so sad to think what became of James Murray after starring in this masterpiece. A lost talent.
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charliechaplinfan
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Post by charliechaplinfan »

I rarely find myself thinking that someone is overacting in a silent. It might be that I'm so used to watching silents that I can tune myself into the various styles of acting used. I agree with all the examples cited of great and underemoted screen performances. Performances are rarely as overemoted like Norma Desmond descending from the staircase at the end of Sunset Boulevard but there are ones that spring to mind. Strangely when I think of the truly great dramatic performers of the silent era it's the women that come to my mind first, Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, Greta Garbo and Clara Bow, not to say that there wasn't great male actors, it's just that the women come to mind first.

Tonight I watched The Eagle and The Hawk, I didn't know much about this movie apart from the fact it stars two of my favorite actors Frederic March and Cary Grant with a cameo by Carole Lombard as the beautiful woman. It's a story of two flyers, a successful highly decorated flyer who hates what he has to do and hates war, he gets more and more disillusioned, depressed and then suicidal played by Frederic March and another played by Cary Grant the best at shooting down the enemy, he views war as a job, something he's got to get on with, get them before they get you. His practical attitude doesn't go down well with his fellow flyers, March hates him and makes no secret of it, yet Cary Grant's Crocker makes sure that March's Young dies in great glory after finding him shot through the head, a suicide. He takes him up in the plane the next morning and sabotages the aircraft and his own life. This I struggle to understand, why he would sacrifice himself for Young's good reputation, I do see that Crocker is more effective because he is detached in a way that Young isn't. It's powerful stuff. A nod to Carol Lombard, she looks like a beautiful swan (you've got to see the dress).
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin
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Gagman 66
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Post by Gagman 66 »

:( I am bitterly disappointed when anyone would turn off a film the magnitude of FOUR SONS, which I consider to be one of the greatest movies ever made. Although, it is literally crippled by Christopher Caliendo's new score. It's a shame this is the version TCM had to run. This film has to be seen with it's original Movie-tone Erno Rapee' Lew Pollack, Maurice Barron, Roxy Orchestra scoring track. It is not the same film without it. When I first saw FOUR SONS in 1999 it had the vintage Movie-tone score and it was impossible to imagine the film without the beautiful "Little Mother" melody, the delicate handling of the dying soldier sequence and so far. Fox simply did not understand that much of the films success in 1928 was due to it's incomparable synchronized score. There are three threads going about this on the TCM forums.

Also there is this excellent article from Vita-phone Varieties in December of 2007. Incidentally, someone mentioned Francis X. Bushman. He is not in FOUR SONS. His boy Francis X (actually Ralph) Bushman Jr. plays one of the brothers.



http://vitaphone.blogspot.com/search?up ... -results=1



I uploaded a couple scenes with the original Movie-tone track on TCM Classic Film Union, because I felt it was important that these be seen in the manner of which they were intended. Here are the links. Note, you will need to click on the pause play button a couple of times before the video starts rolling. Also two audio recordings.


http://fan.tcm.com/_The-9th-Of-November ... 66470.html

http://fan.tcm.com/_Mother-Bernle-Cupbo ... 66470.html


http://fan.tcm.com/_Four-Sons-1928-Litt ... 70.html?b=

http://fan.tcm.com/_Four-Sons-1928-Litt ... 66470.html


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

Post by charliechaplinfan »

I was glad to get chance to see another Clara Bow film, Get Her Man made in 1927 with Buddy Rogers co starring. Clara's acting is so naturalistic, her eyes and mouth so expressive. Set in France, Clara falls in love with Buddy who has ben bethrothed since he was very young, seventeen years after the betrothal he is in Paris collecting some pearls for his fiancee. Clara hatches a plot to get her man by staging an accident outside the gates of his mansion, the print misses a few reels at this point but as it's a frothy comedy it's pretty easy to pick up where the film left off. The rest of the film concentrates on Clara getting her man back, first by wooing Buddy's father in law to be. It's Clara's film, there's no doubt of that, it's such a pity that her silents weren't looked after, it makes the ones we have left all the more precious.
Last edited by charliechaplinfan on June 6th, 2010, 1:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin
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Gagman 66
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Post by Gagman 66 »

Alioson,

:o GET YOUR MAN is incomplete. I don't know how much of the film is lost. Probably well over a reel. It also has a fair degree of decomposition.
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charliechaplinfan
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Post by charliechaplinfan »

Clara still shines through, it's a pity Budd Schulberg didn't sink more money in to her productions preferring instead to make them cheap and often.

Something I noticed is in Get Your Man, Clara is a little on the heavier side, she had weight fluctuations through out her career but I've nevr noticed it before. She's still dazzling though.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin
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MichiganJ
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Post by MichiganJ »

charliechaplinfan wrote:Clara still shines through, it's a pity Budd Schulberg didn't sink more money in to her productions preferring instead to make them cheap and often.

Something I noticed is in Get Your Man, Clara is a little on the heavier side, she had weight fluctuations through out her career but I've nevr noticed it before. She's still dazzling though.
Get Your Man is one of my favorite Bow films. I think she and Buddy Rogers have a great chemistry and Bow, as usual, gives a very funny and natural performance. Never noticed her weight; but even heavier, she had "it".

I watched the delightful early John Ford western, Bucking Broadway (1917). Filled with cliches, but done so well and with plenty of humor, the 55-minute film is just plain fun.

Harry Carey is engaged to a rancher's daughter, but she soon has eyes for the city slicker who whisks her away to the big city. She's soon in need of rescuing and Harry, saddle in tow, arrives in the Big Apple to save his girl. Luckily, the rest of the cowboys happen to be in the city, too (and they brought their horses!)

There are a few gorgeous location shots, which are framed nicely. Not much in camera movement, which isn't terribly noticeable except in a fairly pivotal sequence where the city slicker sets to break a wild horse (which had killed three cowboys). He gets on the horse and promptly rides off camera. It takes seconds for him to reemerge deeper in the picture and the camera pans slightly to the right to stay with him but soon again he exits stage left, and the camera remains stationary. While the lack of camera movement was more-or-less the norm for 1917 U.S. films, here any of the humor or tension in the sequence is effectively lost.

Some interesting lighting (the film is also tinted throughout--mostly amber) and there is a fantastic piano score by Donald Sosin. Indeed, one of the funniest sequences in the film involve the cowboys' encounter with a piano. They reach out and press a key (mimicked by Sosin), and finally one of them sounds out "There's No Place Like Home", which brings on lots of tears.

Great fun.
"Let's be independent together." Dr. Hermey DDS
feaito

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

Post by feaito »

Yesterday I watched “In Gay Madrid” (1930) an early talkie which is definitely not a Pre-Code. It’s a musical vehicle to showcase Ramon Novarro’s vocal talents. Novarro is the playboy son of a Spanish Marquis who’s sent to by his dad to mend his ways, to a College in the provincial Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, so definitely most of the film does not take place in Madrid. The film is based upon the novel “The House of Troy” and is creaky and rather stilted and the overall acting is not very good; only Novarro gives a spirited, lively performance and gets to sing some songs, demonstrating his comedic skills. Dorothy Jordan, a beautiful actress, gives a pretty bad performance as Senorita Carmina. Another interesting aspect of the film is getting to see Lottice Howell, who plays a vamp and the second female lead, a performer who only appeared in one other film in all her life: “Free and Easy” (1930) singing It Must Be You with Bob Montgomery. Something very peculiar about this film is that David Scott who impersonates Senorita Carmina’s younger brother and who becomes Novarro’s character friend, acts all the way as if he had a crush on him. All in all, a curio with some interesting aspects.
feaito

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

Post by feaito »

I saw Dolores Del Rio's first talkie "The Bad One" (1930), directed by George Fitzmaurice and with sets by William Cmaeron Menzies, which I couldn't fully appreciate due to the poor quality of the copy I got. Still, it's quite watchable, with Dolores playing a zesty, vivacious and flirtatious cabaret (bordello I'd say) singer in Marseille. She looks quite beautiful and although at this stage of her career she wasn't at her best in terms of acting (that came afterwards in films like "The Fugitive" (1947)), she's fine in her role of the naughty Lita -maybe Lupe Velez was better suited to play this kind of roles. Edmund Lowe plays Jerry Flanagan, a sailor in love with her. Don Alvarado is the second male lead, but gets very little to do, besides singing one song. Dolores also sings and dances. In all, nothing special, but it's always interesting to see beautiful Dolores and a film with Pre-Code aspects.
feaito

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

Post by feaito »

I watched "Call of the Flesh" (1930) a romantic, musical melodrama with touches of comedy, that was a huge surprise for me. Surprise, because after watching "In Gay Madrid" (1930) filmed and released earlier the same year and after re-reding the pertinent passages from André Soares' very good Bio on Novarro "Beyond Paradise" my expectations were low, since Mr. Soares believes "In Gay Madrid" (1930) to be the best film that Novarro made with co-star Dorothy Jordan. (the other one was "Devil-May-Care" (1929)). Well, I am sorry to totally disagree, but for me "Call of the Flesh" is simply one of Novarro's best talkies along with "The Barbarian" (1933), "The Cat and the Fiddle" (1934) and "Daybreak" (1931) - I'm not counting "Mata-Hari" (1931) because it's a Garbo vehicle and not really Ramon's film.

Mr. Soares and some other reviewers felt that Novarro plays an obnoxious, difficult to tolerate character, especially at the beginning of the film, but I found him most amusing and likable in a way. A sort of immature, mischievous, full-of-life young lad -much more appealing than Haines' truly obnoxious characters. Novarro is very charming and natural, in spite that some times he could be perceived by some to be a litle bit "too much". For me he's fine.

On the other hand, the chemistry between him and Dorothy Jordan is far more effective here than in the previous film I saw. Ms. Jordan really redeemed herself in my eyes in terms of acting. She's no Duse, but she did fine and she conveys the innocence and charm of a naive convent girl who falls for life outside the convent and for Novarro. The musical interludes, singing and dancing are much better in this film and it has better production values. In terms of cinematography, camera movement, pacing and editing it's eons beyond "In Gay Madrid" (1930); definitely Charles Brabin and his crew did a much better job that Bob Z. Leonard and his in the aforementioned film. "Call of the Flesh" (1930) doesn't look at all stilted, stiff and creaky like "In Gay Madrid" (1930) did. Probably by the time they filmed the former the crew at MGM had alredy learnt how to overcome those shortcomings.

“Call of the Flesh” also benefits from an overall superior supporting cast, with Ernest Torrence fantastic as Novarro’s mentor; ailing, lovely Rénée Adorée very moving as Novarro’s fiery lover “Lolita” and Mathilde Comont hilarious as Novarro’s landlady in Madrid.

Adorée was gravely ill with TBC and was in very bad condition during the making of the film (and one can see it; she looks very frail and thin). In fact she and Ernest Torrence died a couple of years after this film was finished. I think that it was her final film.

There are two alternate versions of this film: in Spanish and French, which I don’t know if they are still extant, but I’d love to see.

I was so surprised by this film (maybe, because I didn’t really expect much), I enjoyed the romance, the musical interludes, the comedic touches, even the Operatic Arias (although like Jeanette MacDonald people who know about Opera, say that Novarro hasn’t got a voice of a caliber enough to tackle such a challenge) and I was sincerely moved by the scenes towards the ending.

All in all, a rewarding experience.
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Gagman 66
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Post by Gagman 66 »

:evil: I'm moving this post, as people obviously have not seen it in the other thread at all. Hard to believe.


:shock: Hey, take a gander at this amazing video. Pictured is Kodachrome (Kodak) Two-Color Test Footage from 1922. Actresses would include Mary Eaton, Hope Hampton and Mae Murray. The color is gorgeous. Not sure who the beautiful lady is in the revolutionary War cap? Woof! She needed more screen time. Lo! I wonder if this is the lone surviving footage from these tests? Hope is modeling costumes worn in the production of THE LIGHT AND THE DARK (1922) (which contained the first commercial use of Two-Color Kodachrome in a feature film.

:D Not Two-Strip. Two-Color Technicolor. Or in this case, Two-Color Kodachrome. Here is an interesting article on the photo shoot and the various Color film processes that were vying for the marketplace at the time. ;) still don't know who the other girl was. ???



http://www.cinetecadelfriuli.org/gcm/gi ... hrome.html



[youtube][/youtube]


Also this ties in sort of. A short New Clip of sprightly Colleen Hopping to it. The film IRENE from 1926 had Two-Color Technicolor sequences. In-fact the entire final reel was all in color. The footage still exists, but on the prints I have scene it has faded to a dark amber tint. However, the LOC is supposed to have a a 35 Millimeter restoration done in roughly 2003. Remember you need to click on the Pause/Play button a couple times to start the video rolling.


http://fan.tcm.com/_Colleen-Moore-Ups-A ... 66470.html
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Birdy
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Post by Birdy »

Wow, that's really something. Interestingly enough, I thought about how you don't see those lovely apple-cheeks in today's actresses, do you?
feaito

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

Post by feaito »

I watched an interesting Pre-Code: "The Office Wife" (1930) which stars lovely Dorothy MacKaill as a secretary with her sight put on her married boss, played by old & reliable Lewis Stone, who's just married sophisticated and alluring Natalie Moorhead, who's in turn having an affair with a younger man, due to her husband's workaholism & neglect! Mackaill is fine and Joan Blondell (in her debut) is excellent as Mackaill's wisecracking sister. Dale Fuller (of "Greed" fame) plays expertly a secretary hopelessly in love with Stone and Blanche Friderici plays a rather offbeat role: a mannish journalist who's hired by Stone to write weekly installments about "Office Wives" (Secretaries who are "closer" to their bosses than their wives). In all, a very amusing Film, which runs 58 minutes.
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