Snooky Meets the Tsar: Cinesation 2010 Report

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
  • Author
  • Message
Offline
User avatar

Mike Gebert

Site Admin

  • Posts: 3969
  • Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:23 pm
  • Location: Chicago

Snooky Meets the Tsar: Cinesation 2010 Report

PostMon Sep 27, 2010 10:57 am

Snooky Meets the Tsar: Cinesation 2010 Report

On the way to Cinesation this year, my driving companion and I were talking about how, to enjoy a film convention like this full of obscurities, you have to have a love for movies that transcends the individual movies themselves. Unseen masterpieces are rare (and, as is often the case, the single best film at the fest would prove to be the most familiar title shown). You go to a weekend like this for one or two first-rate surprises, a number of movies where bright performances or sharp dialogue rise above familiar material... and a certain number of ordinary films which at least offer the pleasure of seeing the past preserved in the romantic, dreamy black and white of old Hollywood.

And as it happened, there was a reel shown at Cinesation the first night which captured this whole attitude in ten glorious minutes. Shades of Cinema Paradiso, it was a reel of brief clips of actresses, cut from nitrate originals by some nameless projectionist, carefully assembled by themes... or perhaps fetishes, as it seemed to blur the line between standard film collecting and the kind of obsessional found-art made by someone like Joseph Cornell. (I’m not sure if Rose Hobart was in it.) Sometimes there would be a line of dialogue surreally out of context, sometimes only glamorous posing. But as a distilled dose of pure old movie atmosphere, it was a perfect symbol of how we go to these conventions less for this or that movie than, simply, to luxuriate in the movies as they once were.

Unfortunately, speaking of collectors, the collector who is most responsible for making Cinesation happen, Dennis Atkinson, suffered a stroke a few weeks earlier. And though he’s reported to be recovering well, he was unable to attend. So this was another convention to remind us how dependent we are on the collectors who make these weekends possible.

I don’t think anyone thought they saw a great film at this one, and one of the main contributors (the Library of Congress) is still hampered in finishing new projects by the up-again, down-again conditions at its new preservation lab. But like every Cinesation, it gave us rare and surprising glimpses of our film heritage, sometimes hoarded for decades, sometimes fresh from being preserved. And it drove home for me that it’s not enough to support preservation— if you want to see the films, you need to support the festivals who make it possible to see them before they’re lost, too.


THURSDAY

THE BLACK CAT (**1/2)
Decidedly the lesser of two Universal films with this title, this is a silly but at least well-paced Cat and the Canary knockoff until the best performance (Gladys Cooper as a neurotic scorned wife) and an actual element from the Poe story come together for a strong climax. What struck me about it was that it seems to have the widest variety of acting styles of any movie in history— from Lugosi doing Lugosi and Broderick Crawford doing Bob Hope’s coward act to Basil Rathbone and Cooper being veddy British, Gale Sondergaard as a sinister servant and Alan Ladd playing it noir-tough... not to mention the inexplicable Hugh Herbert.

THE CRADLE OF COURAGE (***1/2) Solid, tough non-western from William S. Hart; he plays one of a family of hoodlums who comes back from World War I with newfound morals, and has to choose between his old life and a chance at a new one as a San Francisco cop. What really sold this was the startling, and delicious, conception of his gray-haired old mammy... who disowns him as yellow when he won’t go on a heist with his crooked brothers!

Cinesation’s special guest this year was Dr. Harriet Fields, granddaughter of W.C. Fields, who spoke before several screenings of her grandfather’s films over the course of the weekend. First up was:

Image

ALICE IN WONDERLAND (**) Paramount’s all-star version of the Lewis Carroll books (more Through the Looking Glass than Wonderland) is like one of those Wackyland-type cartoons about a nonsense-land... stretched out for 70 minutes. Plotless and basically nightmarish visually on its oppressive studio sets, it works whenever a star makes it work— notably W.C. Fields as a snappish Humpty-Dumpty, Gary Cooper as a laconic White Knight, Cary Grant as the Mock Turtle (a rare glimpse of his music hall comic past), and Edward Everett Horton as the Mad Hatter (whose walk Johnny Depp imitated exactly). But as an adaptation of Carroll, it never gets the right tone because Charlotte Henry is all wrong as a saccharine, goody-two-shoes American Alice, not the stubbornly logical English girl of the books.


FRIDAY

ALICE IN WONDERLAND (***)
1915 silent version of the Carroll books, which obviously influenced the Paramount one (it uses, and doesn’t use, almost exactly the same parts of the books, and many of the costumes and masks are quite similar). This works much better, though, because it’s filmed outdoors, and the combination of surreal characters and natural settings has a naive silent movie charm that’s much easier to take. That said, I can’t say I was sorry that Eric Grayson told me he offered Cinesation a 1931 Poverty Row version he called “Ed Wood’s Alice in Wonderland,” and they decided two in one festival was sufficient....

It was preceded by Mystery at the Old Mill (**), a freshly restored, modestly amusing 1916 Lloyd Hamilton comedy about mad doctors (billed as a Ham and Bud, but James Cozart of the Library of Congress later mentioned to me that he didn’t actually think that was the real Bud in the Bud role— Proto-Bud, maybe).

THE DEVIL (***1/2) George Arliss’ 1921 debut— thought lost until a copy was found in Saskatchewan (!) about a decade ago— is a sort of Les Liasons Dangereuses-type piece about a satanic manipulator trying to wreck the lives of some pretty people by advising them into all sorts of romantic troubles. Even by his own standards, the fresh-from-the-stage Arliss hams it up here— creeping about with his hair swept up into horns, his oleaginous villainy suggests something like Nosferatu as played by Terry-Thomas— and as much fun as he’s having, the audience does too.

Preceded by a 1912 Alice Guy-Blache short, A Fool and His Money (*1/2), which is supposed to be the first film with a genuine African-American cast. You can just catch glimpses of the real actors beneath the weight of cringe-worthy stereotypes.

Image

THE SOLDIER AND THE LADY (***) The third version (of five, apparently!) of Jules Verne’s Michael Strogoff, Courier to the Czar made by a White Russian emigre producer, this stitches together stock footage from a 1927 Ivan Mosjoukine version, action scenes from a 1935 French-German version starring Anton Walbrook, and new English-language footage of Walbrook and Akim Tamiroff as the rebel leader. Mongrel of a picture though it is, it’s pretty entertaining as a fast-moving actioner in a Korda-esque vein, thanks to Walbrook (who’s incredibly dashing, in his usual world-weary, vaguely depressed way) and Tamiroff as the energetic baddie. Apparently it bombed in the U.S., though— and a number of Cinesation attendees admitted finding it a little tough to share the film’s unambiguous admiration for a hero who does his duty for the Tsar (Flora Robson’s Queen Elizabeth, the Romanovs ain’t).

WHILE THE PATIENT SLEPT (**1/2) Not bad mystery which apparently was meant to introduce a B-level Thin Man-esque team of police detective Guy Kibbee and nurse Aline MacMahon (apparently they’d all be crimes in an old dark house where a nurse would be needed). Nothing unusual, but MacMahon and Kibbee are fun; by the time they followed up two years later, however, the younger and more conventionally attractive Ann Sheridan and Patric Knowles had the parts.

BETTER DAYS (*1/2) Allegedly a vehicle for the female comedian Dorothy Devore, whose Take the Heir was well-liked last year, this was neither much of a comedy nor much of a vehicle for her, since she vanishes for two or three reels in the middle. Instead, it’s mostly a melodrama about a mom fallen on hard times for the sake of her wastrel son, and she’s so indulgent of his manifest worthlessness that you wish the mom from the William S. Hart picture would come over and pistol-whip some sense into her. There’s a racing finale that solves everything, but really, the only redeeming feature of this sentimental and exceedingly illogical claptrap is a vigorous five-minute catfight between Devore and some floozy.

Snooky's Labor Lost (***) My first exposure to Snooky the Human-Zee proved to be completely unbelievable, even by the standards of stretched credulity of most animal comedies, but pretty amusing; I was particularly impressed by Snooky’s grasp of economic principles as he ran a shoeshine stand, though the fact that all of Snooky’s attempts to make a living are in industries dominated by minorities (he winds up in a Chinese laundry, too) is an aspect of the filmmakers’ mentality perhaps best left unexplored.

Having recently seen Douglas Fairbanks’ WHEN THE CLOUDS ROLL BY, I rested up during that, though I heard the 35mm print was outstanding, and returned for:

SONG OF THE OPEN ROAD (***) Ever wondered what W.C Fields would have done if the Commies had taken over? Gone to orange groves to entertain the Stakhanovite pickers as they bring in the harvest ahead of the Five-Year Plan! At least that’s the notion you get from this 1944 musical, in which Jane Powell (portrayed as an existing star, though in fact this was her debut) runs away from Hollywood to join a youth corps cheerfully working in the fields for the war effort, and eventually recruits her Tinseltown comrades to put on a show to get the harvest in ahead of a freeze.

A plot that would only have flown in wartime, to be sure, but the picture of kids at camp has some of the same innocent appeal of, say, Spin and Marty, and the final bits with Fields, Bergen and McCarthy and various musical guests are enjoyable. Tied up by rights issues which prevent video release, this was an extremely rare treat to see in 35mm, especially after hearing how Eric Grayson salvaged the once-shrunken print (which looked almost new after his tender ministrations).

more to come...
If you truly love film, I think the healthiest thing to do is not read books on the subject. I prefer the glossy film magazines with their big colour photos and gossip columns, or the National Enquirer. Such vulgarity is healthy and safe. —Werner Herzog
Offline
User avatar

Gagman 66

  • Posts: 4195
  • Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2008 8:18 pm

PostMon Sep 27, 2010 3:19 pm

:( Where is the review of BROKEN CHAINS with Colleen Moore???
Offline
User avatar

Mike Gebert

Site Admin

  • Posts: 3969
  • Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:23 pm
  • Location: Chicago

PostMon Sep 27, 2010 3:24 pm

:shock:

I'm pretty sure the answer to that question is a couple of places in this chronological review, since it was the next to last film shown...
If you truly love film, I think the healthiest thing to do is not read books on the subject. I prefer the glossy film magazines with their big colour photos and gossip columns, or the National Enquirer. Such vulgarity is healthy and safe. —Werner Herzog
Offline
User avatar

Rodney

  • Posts: 1886
  • Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:09 am
  • Location: Louisville, Colorado

PostMon Sep 27, 2010 5:50 pm

Gagman 66 wrote::( Where is the review of BROKEN CHAINS with Colleen Moore???


Manners, please. The post does say "more to come..."
Rodney Sauer
The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
www.mont-alto.com
"Let the Music do the Talking!"
Offline

rollot24

  • Posts: 806
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 4:16 pm
  • Location: Bellevue WA

PostMon Sep 27, 2010 8:15 pm

I must admit that when I saw the title of this thread I thought it was about a certain TV "personality". (Well, someone had to say it)
Offline
User avatar

Shaynes3

  • Posts: 107
  • Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 1:11 pm
  • Location: Columbus, OH

PostMon Sep 27, 2010 8:23 pm

rollot24 wrote:I must admit that when I saw the title of this thread I thought it was about a certain TV "personality". (Well, someone had to say it)


Well if someone had to say it, how about explaining it for those of us who are more or less TV-impared...

???

(The last TV Snooky I can think of was Snooky Lanson (Your Hit Parade) and somehow I doubt that does anything except show my age...)
Steve Haynes
Offline
User avatar

Rodney

  • Posts: 1886
  • Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:09 am
  • Location: Louisville, Colorado

PostMon Sep 27, 2010 8:56 pm

Shaynes3 wrote:
rollot24 wrote:I must admit that when I saw the title of this thread I thought it was about a certain TV "personality". (Well, someone had to say it)


Well if someone had to say it, how about explaining it for those of us who are more or less TV-impared...


I wouldn't know her to see her either, but here's what wiki has to say:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicole_Polizzi
Last edited by Rodney on Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Rodney Sauer
The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
www.mont-alto.com
"Let the Music do the Talking!"
Offline
User avatar

Mike Gebert

Site Admin

  • Posts: 3969
  • Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:23 pm
  • Location: Chicago

PostMon Sep 27, 2010 8:59 pm

I was trying to keep things on the class level of a human-zee... not a Jersey Shorian.

(That there's another Snooky/Snooki didn't occur to me till you said it. Chimps had faces then!)
If you truly love film, I think the healthiest thing to do is not read books on the subject. I prefer the glossy film magazines with their big colour photos and gossip columns, or the National Enquirer. Such vulgarity is healthy and safe. —Werner Herzog
Offline
User avatar

spadeneal

  • Posts: 643
  • Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 7:58 pm
  • Location: Lebanon, OH

PostMon Sep 27, 2010 9:40 pm

Jersey Shorians aside, here is the original, non-simian Snooky:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kb81NDtbZpI

They say he couldn't sing rock n roll. And indeed, he couldn't.

Thanks for your wonderful summary of Cinesation Mike. I am only about 90 minutes away, but there is no way I could be there. And I've never heard of Snooky the Humanzee. Will the wonders of the silent era never cease??

spadeneal
Offline
User avatar

spadeneal

  • Posts: 643
  • Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 7:58 pm
  • Location: Lebanon, OH

PostMon Sep 27, 2010 10:31 pm

Speaking of Snooky's Svengali, I've never heard of C. L. Chester, a Chester Comedy or a Chester Outing Scenic. It looks like Chester made quite a few travelogue films going back to at least 1910, and from what I can tell Outing was a magazine that partnered with Chester's film concern.

Some of the titles are intriguing; anyone care to venture what An Ex-Cannibal Carnival (1918) might've been like?

spadeneal
Offline
User avatar

Mike Gebert

Site Admin

  • Posts: 3969
  • Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:23 pm
  • Location: Chicago

PostTue Sep 28, 2010 6:59 am

Sounds a bit like the Wild Man of Borneo act you found in many sideshows, back in the day.

Anyway, onward to Part 2:


SATURDAY

THE WEST-BOUND LIMITED (***)
One of the discoveries of these fests is an entire minigenre of train movies; like westerns, they offered low-budget companies the ability to make attractive pictures with nature as your set designer, and tell a simple, action-packed story (nearly always about the rich daughter of the railroad’s president, a plucky working class boy, and a nefarious vice president of the railroad). They never disappoint, and this one came to a rousing climax that had everything but a bursting dam; also interesting to see Ralph Lewis (Stoneman in Birth of a Nation) in kind of the Lon Chaney-Harry Carey crusty old-engineer role, and one Wedgwood Nowell as the baddie, who brings an unexpectedly civilized bemusement to his nearly psychotic villainies.

LET’S GO NATIVE (**1/2) “1930 musical” is a phrase that usually has me sitting on the aisle for a quick getaway in the dark, but Leo McCarey’s fourth feature is just intriguing enough to reward rediscovery— looking back to his career with Roach (there’s a scene involving hats being tossed overboard that would have been perfect for Laurel & Hardy and James Finlayson) and forward to nonsense comedies like Million Dollar Legs and McCarey’s own Duck Soup, not to mention the Road movies. Jeanette MacDonald seems to spend most of it in lingerie as a showgirl who evades creditors on an ocean liner, pursued by rich hunk of cheese James Hall and with Jack Oakie, Kay Francis and others along for the ride. Alas, the souffle falls flat once it gets to an island presided over by the pointless Skeets Gallagher, but there are some big laughs before then (I’d argue that that hat-tossing scene is at least as well-staged as the overrated state room scene in A Night at the Opera).

Image

JUST PALS (***) If you want to know what set certain filmmakers above their contemporaries, see their films at a festival like this. In outline Just Pals is no less improbable or crammed with plot than Better Days or The West-Bound Limited— hey, it has that silent movie staple, the no-good boyfriend who’s been “borrowing” from the bank he works at— but from the first frame it’s obvious that the young director still credited as Jack Ford cares more about people than the other directors whose work we’ve seen. As Lindsay Anderson said with admirable economy about this film, “For all the artifice of its plotting, the way people behave is real; feelings are experienced, not just represented.” Buck Jones plays (very nicely) an adult Huck Finn type, a lazy bum who finally grows into responsibility when he acquires a young sidekick for whom he feels responsibility, and a woman (the local schoolteacher) he wants to impress.

Liberty Belles (*1/2) The least-liked film of the weekend was plainly this 1914 Klaw & Erlanger three-reeler with Dorothy Gish; there’s a decent realistic two-reeler in it about Gish and another girl being troublemakers at boarding school, but for some inexplicable reason that’s intercut with a pirate parody done in grotesque stage makeup involving her father and a treasure map, which is crushingly unfunny and impossible to follow. (He has four crew members, each a different racial stereotype. Hilarious!) At least it showed how decent a print you can make from a paper print; someone suggested it may have been chosen for preservation by higher-ups at the Library of Congress who assumed that the title had more historical import than two girls getting away with pajama parties at boarding school!

It was followed by an incomplete 1917 Gish feature called STAGESTRUCK, missing its first two reels (though James Cozart said something on this title has recently been found in South America). If it can be reconstructed, I’d happily see the whole thing, as it seemed a witty and entertaining little drama about, of course, poor aspiring actress and rich boy, as always.

Finally, there was a previously unknown Douglas Fairbanks two-reeler called The Missing Millionaire (**1/2) Big discovery, right? It’s actually The Matrimaniac, recut and with an entirely new plot created in the titles by Triangle after he left the company, so they could pass it off as a new film. (The preacher he drags along turns into the girl’s missing father, for instance.) Sleazy, and borderline nonsensical, but where else would you see such a thing?

The afternoon ended with Eric Grayson’s annual program of ultra-rarities, including one of the (quite enjoyable) Bobby Jones golfing shorts Fields appeared in and a pleasant Puppetoon reunion film made around 1971 for television (and a bit hard to watch in this rare surviving copy).

YOU’RE TELLING ME (****) Almost as funny as the great It’s a Gift, and unique among Fields’ films for a sweet, fable-like feel that allows him the chance to act with real poignancy and delicacy, this has long been one of my favorite Fields films. It was preceded by a couple of shorts including The Golf Specialist (***), which contains a very similar version of the same stage golf routine which concludes You’re Telling Me; fortunately it’s good enough to withstand two showings within an hour and a half.

CRAZY HOUSE (***) Olsen and Johnson partisans (there are a few) insist that this, rather than the more famous Hellzapoppin’, is their best comedy. To me, they’re about the same— a wildly anarchic opening 10 minutes that couldn’t be sustained if you wanted to, then a mix of musical numbers and wacky comedy that doesn’t measure up to the best comedians of the time but is generally enjoyable. This time they’re making a movie instead of a stage show; the most surprising thing for me was that I actually liked Cass Daley here, just months after she traumatized me in The Fleet’s In at Cinevent.

Image

SUNDAY

FORBIDDEN WOMAN (**1/2)
I don’t know if I’ve seen Clara Kimball Young (a big teens star who then steadily faded through the early 20s) before, so it’s a bit unfair to be introduced to her via one of the films made by her then-husband, Harry Garson, which evidently beached her starring career. The story and production values bespeak quality, but Garson’s idea of direction seems to be parking everybody attractively on the nice furniture, taking the steam out of what ought to have been a spicier story about a French actress who drives a hapless suitor to suicide and then flees incognito to rural upstate New York. (It doesn’t entirely help that the new beau she finds there is Conway Tearle, who always looks to me like Franklin Roosevelt.) That said, this grownup romance does have interest, and Young seems to have wit and a knowingness that would have served her well in tales of women of the world, so I’m curious to see more and better of her work. Kudos to Ben Model, who not only accompanied this with sensitivity and taste but, when his Miditzer program crashed, switched over to the adjacent piano with only a few seconds of silence in between!

BROKEN CHAINS (***) Proof that the much-satirized Hollywood game of mixing past hits— “It’s like The English Patient meets Point Break”— goes back well into the silent period: this could not have more plainly have been devised in a meeting where somebody said “Let’s do Broken Blossoms AND Tol’able David!” Colleen Moore, imitating Lillian Gish’s pursed lips, is the much-abused child-bride of baddie Ernest Torrence; one Malcolm McGregor is the poor man’s Barthelmess, a rich coward sent to his dad’s lumber camp to become a man, who decides to take Torrence on; and Torrence is plainly having a great old time playing a villain black-hearted enough to give Mr. Grimes in Sparrows the heebies. The (plainly capable) director was Allen Holubar, who I know only from that 1916 version of 20,000 Leagues.

One of the high points of these fests is always when Dr. Phil Carli gets a redblooded melodrama to pound home on the keyboard, and the epic fight scene that concludes this let him rip most satisfactorily to send us out from another fine weekend of films. Thanks to all the organizers and collectors who make Cinesation possible, and I wish a speedy recovery to Dennis Atkinson and hope to see him next year.
If you truly love film, I think the healthiest thing to do is not read books on the subject. I prefer the glossy film magazines with their big colour photos and gossip columns, or the National Enquirer. Such vulgarity is healthy and safe. —Werner Herzog
Offline
User avatar

Shaynes3

  • Posts: 107
  • Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 1:11 pm
  • Location: Columbus, OH

PostTue Sep 28, 2010 9:57 am

Thanks for the report, Mike - it was indeed another wonderful, unpredictable weekend in Massillon. Your assesment of the program was pretty much on target as far as I'm concerned, down to citing that truly awful (was it really only THREE reels and not THIRTY?!) Dorothy Gish pajama party film as most disliked!

Once again I was disappointed to see so few members of the Nitrateville community (pecentage wise at least) turn out for the show. As weekend vacations go this one packs a lot of value for the dollar, at least for classic film fans - and as others have pointed out most of the conventions offer a lot of films that are not all that easy to see ANYWHERE else.

So next Cinesation, Cinefest, Cinevent, Slapsticon, Cinecon or whatever - consider that all of these shows need attendees to keep going. (For those who don't know and in the interest of full disclosure, I am one of the founders of Cinevent, and still do my bit to make it happen each year.)
Steve Haynes
Offline
User avatar

Brooksie

  • Posts: 1733
  • Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2010 6:41 pm
  • Location: Portland, Oregon via Sydney, Australia

PostTue Sep 28, 2010 6:09 pm

Thanks for the report Mike - especially valuable for those of us who would love to be there but can't. :)
Offline

James Bazen

  • Posts: 261
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 7:41 pm
  • Location: Canton, Ohio

2010 Fall Cinesation Report

PostFri Oct 01, 2010 8:57 am

Here's my report for last week's Cinesation festival. Again, I had a wonderful time. Can hardly wait for next year. Happy 20th Great Lakes Cinephiles Society!


===========================================
Well, I just returned from the 2010 Fall Cinesation festival. Once again, another fabulous weekend has drawn to a close. Time flies so fast. Hard to believe that this year marked my *8th* consecutive Cinesation. Gee, seems like yesterday I was a mere newbie amongst Cinephile film convention attendees. Now I'm a seasoned veteran, and a full-fledged member of that unique group of people who happily give up four days out of their lives to spend mingling and sitting in a darkened theatre at the
chance to view the rarest of the rare silent films and early talkies.

This year, also marked the 20th anniversary of the Fall Cinesation Festival, which is sponsored by The Great Lakes Cinephiles Society, and the film program as always was well balanced with something for everyone. From slapstick comedy( Midnight at The Old Mill(1916) ) to society melodrama(The Forbidden Woman(1920) ) and everything in between. We were even treated to the attendance of Dr. Harriet Fields, W.C. Fields' granddaughter who spoke very lovingly about her grandfather and his films. On a more serious note,it was announced that D.W. Atkinson, one of the main forces behind Cinesation had suffered a stroke a few weeks prior to the event and was unable to attend. Reportedly he is doing fine and recovering. Here's wishing him a speedy recovery and that we all look forward to seeing him there next year.



Three cheers for Cinesation and all of the wonderful people who make this event possible every year. Here's wishing you the best, and may the next 20 years be just as splendid.



Now onto the films. Some films due to time or my increasing fatigue I skipped(Song Of The Open Road(1944) In Old Missouri(1940) But being a trouper I still saw just about everything else.



Rating system: ****= Excellent, ***= Good, ** Fair, *=Poor



THE BLACK CAT(1941**1/2) A kind of old dark house plot which blends screwball comedy and murder. Broderick Crawford and Hugh Herbert play a real estate broker and a bumbling antique dealer respectively, who stumble upon the home of a very wealthy elderly woman who is murdered on a dark and stormy night. The woman is surrounded by her scheming relatives, who are all anxious for the her to die in order to obtain a vast inheritance. A very entertaining film. Crawford and Herbert play well off each other and Gale Sondergaard is particularly memorable as the mysterious and sinister housekeeper. And Anne Gwynne is easily one of the most likeable and pretty of the legions of minor film actresses of the period. Director Albert Rogell, handles the situations briskly and with style.



THE CRADLE OF COURAGE(1920**1/2) Former gangster William S. Hart, returns home from WWI a hero and struggles to go straight and abandom his criminal past. He becomes a police officer and is at odds with the very hoods that were his former associates. Including his own brother. Not one of Hart's better films but interesting. There are some great location shots of San Francisco of the time.



ALICE IN WONDERLAND(1933)- I have to admit, I was nodding off and missed most of this film.



MIDNIGHT AT THE OLD MILL(1916*) Tedious Ham and Bud slapstick short



ALICE IN WONDERLAND(1915**1/2) An early film of the famous Lewis Carroll story. Viola Savoy is a charming Alice and the film offers some nice trick photograpy. However most other aspects of the movie are rather primitive particularly the title cards, which often read like stage play dialogue where the dialogue of more than one character is contained within a single title.



A FOOL AND HIS MONEY(1912***) A real rarity. Directed by French female director Alice Guy Blanche, this is an early film featuring an all-black cast. A man finds a wallet on the street and proceeds to try to win over the woman of his dreams who had formerly scorned him. A very entertaining picture, and while not perfect, the images of black characters here is certainly a step-up from most films of the period.



THE DEVIL(1921****) For this reviewer the best film of the weekend. Celebrated stage actor George Arliss, in his film debut, plays a mysterious society gentleman who questions the theory that good always wins out over evil. To test his idea, he comes into the middle of the slowly brewing romantic complications of four people. Pitting them against each other and stirring up jealousies all the time feigning friendship and concern for the young people. As the film heads to it's breakneck denounment, more and more of the man's darker nature is revealed including a distinct repulsion at the sight of a crucifix. This film was a film adaptation of a successful Molnar play that Arliss had performed onstage. Arliss gives a superlative peformance. For a stage performer, his screen acting style is remarkeably relaxed and controlled. And he exudes charisma and a sly playfulness which indicates Arliss was having a blast performing the part of such an over-the-top plot.



THE SOLDIER AND THE LADY(1937**1/2) Anton Walbrook stars in a telling of Jules Verne's "Michael Strogoff" the story of a Russian courrier who travels to deliver important information to the Russian army concerning an invading troupe of Tartar soldiers. Not a bad film, it starts rather slow, but picks up towards the end. Walbrook does well in the role, although seems out of place in the romantic moments where someone with much more charisma was needed.



WHILE THE PATIENT SLEPT(1935***) Fun little Warner Bros. B starring Aline MacMahon and Guy Kibee as a nurse and detective investigating a murder in the home of a sickly wealthy gentleman surrounded by anxious relatives awaiting his death and mysterious servants. A fun film. The cast performs well together, and Kibee and MaMahon have great screen chemistry as the constantly bickering team.



BETTER DAYS(1927**1/2) While popular comedienne Dorothy Devore is top billed, this film seems like more a showcase for character actress Mary Carr who plays a widowed weathly woman who's estate has fallen upon bad times after her prize race horse fails to win a race that her finacial situation depends upon. Adding to her troubles is her reckless, debt-ridden son(Gaston Glass) This film is rather slow-moving in the first three reels or so, only made interesting by Mary Carr's fine performance. Devore has little to do in the first half, and then disappears for a few reels before returning, revealing herself to be a very likeable and spirited screen prsence in the final two reels. Devore has a bravura scene involving a protracted knock-em-out fight between Glass after he makes a pass at her, and then between a female paramour of his. The two women wildly duke it out complete with hair pulling, clothes tearing and wrestling around on the floor. On the strength of this, I'd love to see more of Devore's work.



SNOOKIE'S LABOR LOST(1921***) Bizarre yet, amusing short film chronicaling the employment woes of a chimpanzee.



WHEN THE CLOUDS ROLL BY(1919****) Delightful Douglas Fairbanks farce made just before he made the switch to lavish, swashbuckling spectacles. Fairbanks plays a young man who is unknowingly a victim of a doctor who uses him as a guinea pig to test out his theories of pcsychology.Fast paced and bouyant film, deftly handled by director Victor Fleming. Fairbanks is his usual breezy and charming self, and the film offers many moments to show off his vigor and physical dexterity.



WESTBOUND LIMITED(1923***) Ralph Lewis is a railroad worker, who with his son falsl into favor with a wealthy railroad owner when they save his daughter's life. The two run afoul of the owner's crooked assistant with leacherous designs on the girl. I had already seen this on DVD, but it was great seeing it on the big screen with an audience and live music. A wonderfully action-packed railroad drama that never lets up it's nail-bitting pace, leading up to it's climactic end invloving two trains doomed to colide head on into each other. Nice cast, although leading lady Ella Hall, while spunky is perhaps the most unphotogenic silent film actress I've yet seen.



LET'S GO NATIVE(1930**1/2) Reasonably entertaining Paramount early talkie musical concerning a disperate group of travelers who are shipwrecked on a South Sea Island inhabited by Skeets Gallagher and a bevy of Island beauties who converse with a Brooklyn vernacular. Not much plot, but the film offers some lively musical numbers, and Jeanette MacDonald sings a charming rendition of "My Mad Moment' early in the film's running time.



JUST PALS(1920****) I had already seen this excellent early John Ford film about a small town good-natured loafer(Buck Jones) who meets up with an homeless boy and runs afoul of the narrow-minded town residents as he sets about caring for the young boy.



LIBERTY BELLES(1914*) Pretty dreadful 3-reel comedy. Dorothy Gish and her friend Gertrude Bambrick go away to college in order to secretly see their two young men whom their rather's disapprove of. A premise that had the makings of a pleasing two-reel comedy, is suddenly bogged down with several mindless subplots including a search for a missing sunken treasure and the girl's operating a cooking school. Still, as so many of Dorothy Gish's films are lost it's a rare opportunity. And Dorothy sure gives big sis Lillian a run for her money in the jaw-droppingly etheral beauty category.



STAGE STRUCK(1917***) The second Dorothy Gish offering of the weekend. While a better film than the previous, it unfortunately is missing the first two reels. Dorothy an aspiring actress, becomes involved with a phony dramatic school, and falls in love with the son of a wealthy relief worker. On what's left, this is a very well made comedy-drama with a radiantly lovely Dorothy Gish giving a fine performance.



THE MISSING MILLIONAIRE(1917*1/2) This is merely the much more fun and fluid THE MATRIMANIAC(1916) made the previous year. However Triangle recut the film in a different sequence and with new titles and released it as a new film. The first film is a superb comedy starring Douglas Fairbanks and Constance Talmadge. This film seems jumpy and disjointed with all of the bouyance and bounce of the first film lost.



ERIC GRAYSON PRESENTS W.C. FIELDS' SHORTS AND RARITIES PROGRAM(***)- A fun mix of rare W.C. Fields footage hosted by historian Eric Grayson, including footage of Fields with D.W. Griffith at the premire of THAT ROYLE GIRL(1926), one of the most sought after "lost" films. A fascinating clip which features the only existing footageof the film. HIP ACTION(1933**) is a short featuring golf star Bobby Jones showing Fields proper form to improve his golf swing. W.C FIELDS ACTS AGAIN(***) is a newsreel talking about Fields' return to the screen after a long illness.



ERIC GRAYSON PRESENTS(***) Grayson hosts another collection of rare short subjects 1) A TRIBUTE TO JOHN BARRYMORE(***) features a trailer for Barrymore's upcoming Warner Bros. release BEAU BRUMMELL. The short also features the complete color footage of Barrymore's HAMLET test. 2) TOOLBOX BALLET(1971***) A charming George Pal puppetoon animation. 3)SPORTS ANTICS(1948**) A little profile on the sport of roller derby skaters in which Chico Marx makes an appearance.



THE GOLF SPECIALIST(1929***) Classic W.C. Fields short comedy with Fields doing his legendary golf routine.



YOU'RE TELLING ME(1934****) Probably my favorite Fields film. Yet, seeing it on the big screen with an appeciative audience made it all the more special.



CRAZY HOUSE(1943***) A zany Universal comedy starring vaudeville comey team Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson who decide to produce a film. A very entertaining film with comedienne Cass Daley supporting in a dual role. Not much plot, but several toe-tapping musical numbers.



FORBIDDEN WOMAN(1920**1/2) Clara Kimball Young was one of the biggest female stars of the 1910's often starring in society melodramas. In 1914 she was the top female box-office draw. But by the 1920's her career was waning. Clara has also long been one of my favorite silent screen actresses, so I was excited to see this. Clara plays a French actress embroiled in social scandal when a wealthy, debt-ridden gentleman commits suicide and she's believed to be the blame for his demise. She flees to America where she falls in love with an author before discovering he is the brother of the dead man's wife. An okay film that needed a stronger script. Clara Kimball Young exhibits radiant charm and a sly playfulness in the light moments of the film. But the film's more dramatic moments are rather stiff and overwrought.



BROKEN CHAINS(1922***) Another favorite of the weekend starring Pre-flapper Colleen Moore. Handsome Malcolm McGregor stars as a cowardly rich man's son, goes to his father's lumber mill to become a man. While there he meets a young wife and her brutal husband. An excellent taut melodrama with a fine cast. Ernest Torrence is particularly good as the husband and easily surpasses his villain role in TOL'ABLE DAVID, in sadistic viciousness. The consistently heightend emotional angst of the film was enhanced by pianist Dr.Phil Carli's smoking hot piano accompaniment. There's also a very well staged climactic, and brutal fight sequence between Torrence and McGregor at the end.
Offline
User avatar

Gagman 66

  • Posts: 4195
  • Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2008 8:18 pm

PostSat Oct 02, 2010 1:04 am

James,

:D Thanks much for all of the reviews. Especially, BROKEN CHAINS.
Offline

Kevin2

  • Posts: 178
  • Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 1:37 pm

PostSat Oct 02, 2010 10:32 am

Perhaps because Cinesation 2010 was my first film festival and the first time I was able to see silent films on the big screen, my over-all ratings for the films would be perhaps half a star higher, but in general I agree with the reviews.

I must have been the only one who really liked LIBERTY BELLES. The subplot objections are quite valid, but, at least for me, they were a relatively minor annoyance. I thought Dorothy was terrific as the young collegian, and her performance was quite natural, especially for a film from 1914. Also loved seeing Jack Pickford, who looked to be about fourteen and had enough energy to keep some of the more static scenes moving.

I really appreciated the folks at Cinesation for running STAGE STRUCK despite it missing the first two reels. It was easy enough to follow the plot (after a brief description of what was missed), and Dorothy does give a pretty great nuanced performance. I suspect the opening reels may have allowed her to show some of her comedic talents.

If hard-pressed, I guess for me the "worst" film was FORBIDDEN WOMAN, and that only because it was too long for the simple story it told. It also relied upon one of those wonderful silent film coincidences (the kind that would even have made Dickens roll his eyes), but here, even that wasn't exploited.

I loved BROKEN CHAINS, but was slightly disappointed that they built up the bridge gag, and then never really used it. The fight was a little too TOL'ABLE DAVID but still exciting.

THE DEVIL was probably my favorite film, too (although the ending seemed to come out of nowhere. Is there some footage missing or was it just me?) but I was also completely blown away by the reel shown on the first night that featured very brief clips of actresses. I'm still unsure exactly what it was we saw, but it was wonderfully surreal and allowed me the opportunity to see dozens of actresses on the big screen.

Finally, it was incredible being able to listen to the musical accompaniments by Ben Model and Dr. Philip Carli. On the rare occasion where a film wasn't holding my complete attention, I would look over and watch them as they performed. It was fascinating seeing how they would watch the film and anticipate the action and dramatics and alter their music accordingly. During Devore's fight scene in BETTER DAYS, for instance, the music first reflected the action, but quickly, when realizing it was also humorous, a comedic element was snuck into the music. Pretty great.

Can't wait 'til next year!
Offline
User avatar

Frederica

  • Posts: 3905
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:00 pm
  • Location: Kowea Town, Los Angeles

PostSat Oct 02, 2010 10:38 am

Loving the reviews and reports, but peeps! Photos! Where are my photos?
Fred
"She jerked away from me like a startled fawn might, if I had a startled fawn and it jerked away from me."
Raymond Chandler, The Little Sister
http://www.nitanaldi.com
http://www.facebook.com/NitaNaldiSilentVamp
Offline
User avatar

Mike Gebert

Site Admin

  • Posts: 3969
  • Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:23 pm
  • Location: Chicago

PostSat Oct 02, 2010 11:10 am

THE DEVIL was probably my favorite film, too (although the ending seemed to come out of nowhere. Is there some footage missing or was it just me?


I didn't want to give away anything but I think most people I talked to were surprised that the title was meant quite so literally. Up to that point, it was pretty credible as a psychological drama.

Sorry, no photos. Not sure what we'd have to show anyway, other than a bunch of us in a car going to Swenson's...

P.S. I merged the two threads for the sake of future generations finding all the reviews in one place.
Last edited by Mike Gebert on Sat Oct 02, 2010 4:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
If you truly love film, I think the healthiest thing to do is not read books on the subject. I prefer the glossy film magazines with their big colour photos and gossip columns, or the National Enquirer. Such vulgarity is healthy and safe. —Werner Herzog
Offline
User avatar

DW Atkinson

  • Posts: 36
  • Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 8:35 am

PostSat Oct 02, 2010 12:11 pm

Mmmm Swenson's...

The Devil was the best of show. There wasn't missing footage as far as I could tell, just a quick ending making you question the end and make you want to see the movie again to see if you missed something. Very effective.

The clips: we showed different ones 13 years ago and they were a crowd pleaser.
This year there were more than 100 shots on that 10 min reel. More were shown (4min animated) Sunday before the cartoon in front of In Old Missouri. I hope you got to see them Kevin...

Broken Chains: How that new uber dark print got through the QC check at The GEH is beyond me. Great film otherwise.

Am I taking suggestions for 2011 now? No, not yet...

DW Atkinson
info@cinephiles.org
Offline

Eric Grayson

  • Posts: 96
  • Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 8:43 am
  • Location: Indianapolis IN

PostSun Oct 03, 2010 12:35 pm

What's Swenson's?
Offline
User avatar

Mike Gebert

Site Admin

  • Posts: 3969
  • Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:23 pm
  • Location: Chicago

PostSun Oct 03, 2010 1:30 pm

Swenson's is an Akron-area old school carhop hamburger chain. They have one now in Jackson just north of Massillon, which you can just get to and back in time during a Cinesation lunch break if you zoom around all the Ohioans going 10 under the speed limit.

I tried it for the first time this year, otherwise I'd have been talking it up from the get-go.
If you truly love film, I think the healthiest thing to do is not read books on the subject. I prefer the glossy film magazines with their big colour photos and gossip columns, or the National Enquirer. Such vulgarity is healthy and safe. —Werner Herzog
Offline
User avatar

DW Atkinson

  • Posts: 36
  • Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 8:35 am

PostSun Oct 03, 2010 1:47 pm

Swenson's Galley Boy burger was the best I have had in a long time. I actually had a vanilla phosphate to wash it down! The best lunch of the weekend. My son liked it so much he went back for dinner with two other Chicagoans. They loved it also.
Thanks again Mike.

Dennis
Offline
User avatar

BenModel

  • Posts: 715
  • Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 9:14 pm
  • Location: New York

PostSun Oct 03, 2010 2:41 pm

I guess I was the other person who liked LIBERTY BELLES. I've become a fan of Dave Morris, and his role as the crazy captain was great. Now I'm curious to look at MoMA's print...
Offline
User avatar

Christopher Jacobs

Moderator

  • Posts: 1863
  • Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2008 12:53 pm
  • Location: Grand Forks, North Dakota

PostTue Oct 05, 2010 12:21 pm

Cinesation 2010 Capsules
========================

I watched every film screened during this extremely pleasant and laid-back weekend, as well as meeting up with many old friends for catching up and having dinner. Now it's back to the routine of classes (just handed back the first test of the semester last week when I got back), grading midterm papers, and working on the intro to film textbook I'm co-authoring, while trying to keep up with Blu-ray and TCM screenings and occasional visits to the local multiplex (LET ME IN is worth seeing!).

As for LIBERTY BELLES, I rather enjoyed it. I certainly found it well-worth seeing overall and liked the middle reel very much. There were many more films this year than usual that are available on DVD (which I've noted in the capsule summaries below). I agree with much of the reaction already posted, so my comments will be fairly brief with a star rating (out of four). My favorites of the weekend were THE WESTBOUND LIMITED (which I'd never seen before -- guess I should order the DVD) and of course YOU'RE TELLING ME, not to mention JUST PALS, both of which I have on DVD. THE DEVIL and BROKEN CHAINS were also very good (too bad the otherwise nice 35mm print of BROKEN CHAINS was so dark most of the time).

--Christopher Jacobs
http://hpr1.com/film
http://www.und.edu/instruct/cjacobs




Thursday
--------

THE BLACK CAT (1941) ** 1/2 16mm but very sharp =DVD Universal horror box set= Amusing if forgettable old dark house comedy-mystery with relatives gathered to settle a will, with Bela Lugosi in an extended bit role, a self-referential Basil Rathbone appearance, and Broderick Crawford as the comic romantic lead!
CRADLE OF COURAGE (1920) *** 16mm nice old Glenn Photo print =DVD Grapevine= Typical Wm S Hart formula, except instead of a cowboy he's a safecracker who decides to go straight after serving in WWI as a sergeant, scandalizing his tough old mother by becoming a cop!
Nitrate clips of actresses (1930s-50s) *** 1/2 35mm Just a few seconds each, but these simply glowed off the screen and appear to have been snipped and assembled with a certain logic
ALICE IN WONDERLAND (1933) ** 1/2 16mm =DVD Universal= Paramount's all-star production is a lot of fun, but holds up much better in parts than as its rather lethargic whole.


Friday
------
MIDNIGHT AT THE OLD MILL (1916) ** 1/2
35mm Ham & Bud comedy that's actually pretty funny more often than expected, helped out in no small part by the beautiful print quality. Bu I think I need to see it again because I've already forgotten most of it!
ALICE IN WONDERLAND (1915) ** 1/2 35mm =DVD Grapevine= This silent version is a bit slow and has lots of long shots, but remains engaging with ambitious costumes, production values, and special effects
A FOOL AND HIS MONEY (1912) ** 35mm This moderately amusing Alice Guy Blache short is unusual for its all-black cast
THE DEVIL (1920) *** 35mm In his first film George Arliss takes great delight in attempting to destroy the friendship and romantic relationships of two young couples.

THE SOLDIER AND THE LADY (1937) *** This reissue of RKO's version of MICHAEL STROGOFF is slow starting but a good action-adventure skillfully blending footage from two previous versions.
AUTOMATIC MOVING COMPANY (1910) *** =DVD Flicker Alley's "Saved From the Flames" set= Very entertaining stop-motion animated comedy of furniture moving itself into a house.
PETE SMITH GOOFY MOVIE ("Wataphoney Newsreel") (1930s) ** Occasionally amusing clips of rare and probably lost silent shorts with Pete Smith's typically snide remarks explaining what's supposed to be happening
WHILE THE PATIENT SLEPT (1935) ** 1/2 16mm but very sharp Nice old dark house comedy-mystery with relatives gathered while the family patriarch is in a coma and nurse Ailene McMahon helping detective Guy Kibbe solve the crime
BETTER DAYS (1927) *** 16mm typical but well-enough done formula melodrama in the horserace/dissolute son & bankrupt family formula

SNOOKY'S LABOR LOST (1921) ** 1/2 35mm cute Snooky the chimp comedy with him working various jobs
WHEN THE CLOUDS ROLL BY (1919) *** 35mm =DVD Flicker Alley's early Fairbanks box set= Odd but enjoyable dark comedy of superstitious Douglas Fairbanks being manipulated by an insane doctor so that the constant clash of happy and sad moods will drive him to suicide. The 35mm print was exellent, great to see on a big screen, and vastly superior to the DVD edition, which unfortunately suffers from severe compression artifacts but looks okay on a small standard-def TV set.
Previews (1930s-40s) *** 35mm incl. Zorro, et al.
THE AUTOGRAPH HOUND (1939) *** 35mm Cute Donald Duck with all-star caricatures on a movie set
SONG OF THE OPEN ROAD (1944) *** 35mm This teenage Jane Powell wartime musical morale-raiser is actually quite entertaining (reminiscent of the Jane Withers vehicle THIS IS THE LIFE) before devolving into seemingly Soviet-style propaganda for its conclusion, although that's the part where W. C. Fields, Edgar Bergan & Charlie McCarthy, and others contribute their bit to the effort.


Saturday
--------
THE WESTBOUND LIMITED (1923) *** 1/2
16mm Kodascope =DVD Grapevine= First-rate railroad melodrama in a gorgeous original print and rip-roaring piano accompaniment by Phil Carli. This one is more complexly plotted than most, with several plot threads not quite fleshed out (perhaps due to the Kodascope abridgement?) but effectively acted, very slickly edited, and beautifully photographed. Saying that female romantic lead Ella Hall is "less than photogenic" is a tactful way of describing her very un-moviestar-like appearance, but she gave an adequate performance. Was she some producer's girlfriend or cousin or something? The AFI catalog gives her only five credits in 1922-23 plus an appearance in MADAM SATAN of all things seven years later.
LET'S GO NATIVE (1930) ** 1/2 16mm Okay print of diverting if rather meandering Paramount pre-code musical with some fun numbers, great lines, and barely any plot threads to connect them. Jeanette MacDonald and Jack Oakie fare best, and we get to see Charles Sellon (Mr. Muckle) as the rich father of juvenile lead James Hall, plus amusing bits with Eugene Pallette, ane even shorter bits by Grady Sutton and Virginia Bruce, but Kay Francis is sadly wasted (and not in a good sense).
JUST PALS (1920) *** 1/2 =DVD Ford at Fox set= John Ford's brilliant rural drama starring Buck Jones in perhaps his most sensitive performance as the town bum who befriends a runaway orphan boy and also observes the various activities of the hypocritical townsfolk who accuse a pretty young schoolteacher of embezzlement.
LIBERTY BELLES (1914) ** 35mm The second reel of this Lillian and Dorothy Gish 3-reeler was rather charming (especially the boarding-school pillow-fight and some of the other pre-precode-looking romantic antics), but the first and third reel ranged from bizarrely ridiculous to simply tedious. Production company Klaw & Erlanger obviously must have been more at home with live theatre, judging from the stock stereotype makeup and costumes of the "pirate" crew. As others have mentioned, it's really a short feature (a very full three reels) that would have worked far better as a one or two-reel short.
STAGESTRUCK (1917) ** 1/2 35mm Enjoyable last half to two-thirds of a Dorothy Gish drama involving a fly-by-night drama school and the son of a hypocritical society matron whose pet charities don't include marriage between social classes
THE MISSING MILLIONAIRE (1917) ** 16mm Odd and semi-coherent curiosity that would be more interesting if viewed immediately after THE MATRIMANIAC, as it is a 2-reel short with an entirely different story edited from footage shot for the Fairbanks feature.
"That Royale Girl" premiere (1926) ** 16mm Fascinating and frustrating to see D. W. Griffith and stars outside the theatre before the now-lost feature was to begin.
HIP ACTION (1933) ** 35mm Instructional golfing short of interest for W. C. Fields appearance.
NEWS OF THE DAY (1936) ** 1/2 16mm WC Fields clips
BEAU BRUMMEL trailer (1924) *** 16mm interesting promotional short for the uneven but lavish John Barrymore biopic, making the feature look much better than it actually is
HAMLET SCREEN TESTS (1933) *** 16mm color A few brief tantalizing scenes from a never-produced Hamlet in Technicolor with Barrymore, Donald Crisp, and Reginald Denny
TOOLBOX BALLET (1971) *** 16mm Enjoyable stop-motion animation by George Pal that is exactly as its title implies, with some clever surprises here and there. Although the print was slightly faded, most of the color was still there.
SPORTS ANTICS (1948) ** 16mm Typical sports newsreel fluff with a cameo by Chico Marx

HOLLYWOOD ON PARADE (193 ) ** 1/2 16mm with a W.C.Fields clip
THE GOLF SPECIALIST (1930) *** 35mm =DVD Criterion Collection= I'd only seen clips of this before, ususally in bad dupes, but the crystal-clear 35mm print was a revelation, like being back in 1930 and seeing it brand-new, and made it into one of Fields' most enjoyable shorts.
YOU'RE TELLING ME (1934) *** 1/2 16mm =DVD Universal Fields box set vol. 2= Certainly one of Fields' best films
WELL OILED (1947) *** 35mm =DVD Universal Woody Woodpecker box set vol. 1= Fun to see this on a big screen in IB Tech
THE OUR GANG FOLLIES OF (1938) ** 1/2 35mm =DVD Genius Entertainment's Little Rascals box set= Cute late Roach talent show short that's better if you're one of those who enjoy Alfalfa's singing.
CELL PHONE ANNOUNCEMENT (200?) *** 16mm Great mini action-thriller resulting in a cell phone destroying the world (at least the diegetic world)!
CRAZY HOUSE (1943) *** 16mm Fun Olsen & Johnson followup to HELLSAPOPPIN that is actually a bit more coherent and more entertaining overall, with its Hollywood moviemaking plot and good-natured satire of the industry.


Sunday
------
FORBIDDEN WOMAN (1919) ** 1/2
35mm Okay early chick-flick with aging Clara Kimball Young stodgily directed by her then-current off-screen romantic interest. She does still have some good screen presence despite the nearly action-free plot, and the last half of the film definitely improves in pacing and characterizations.
BROKEN CHAINS (1922) *** 35mm Fun rural melodrama in which Colleen Moore actually gets to do some acting rather than merely stand around looking cute as she did more and more of after becoming a major star. Here her brutal husband Ernest Torrence keeps her literally chained to their cabin until cowardly young millionaire Malcom McGregor finds the courage to save her in a TOL'ABLE DAVID-like climax.
LISTEN JUDGE (1952) ** 35mm =DVD Sony's Three Stooges Collection vol. 7= Okay later Stooges short with Shemp having replaced Curly, where they wreck a society party they're supposed to be serving after wrecking a house they're supposed to be fixing.
HIS MOUSE FRIDAY (1951) *** 35mm =DVD WB's Tom & Jerry collection vol. 3= Cute Tom & Jerry cartoon, obviously set on a desert island, very nice on the big screen in IB Tech
IN OLD MISSOURI (1940) ** 1/2 35mm Variation on the familiar plot used in BETTER DAYS, this time with hillbilly singing family The Weavers as sharecroppers trying to save their landowner's fortune so they'll have better conditions. After a tedious and annoying first reel or two, this actually gets pretty good for its last half, with a modest early role for Alan Ladd.
SOUTHERN FRIED RABBIT (1953) *** 35mm =DVD Looney Toons Golden Collection volume 4= Fun IB Tech Bugs & Yosemite Sam North-South story with some un-PC moments that probably keep this one off TV or require cuts, although at least it shows up in WB's DVD cartoon set
Offline
User avatar

Harold Aherne

  • Posts: 1430
  • Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 1:08 pm
  • Location: North Dakota

PostTue Oct 05, 2010 2:43 pm

Ella Hall was a prominent leading lady during her years at Universal (1913-18). She joined the studio after making some films for Kinemacolor and worked frequently with Lois Weber, Phillips Smalley and Robert Z. Leonard, appearing opposite the latter in The Master Key, one of the studio's early serials. She was the star of several Bluebird releases beginning in 1916. She married Emory Johnson around 1917 and his production company (releasing through FBO) was responsible for most of her 20s output. An LA Times article from January 1936 mentions that they had been divorced for several years. Their daughter Ellen Hall was a minor actress in 40s films.

-Harold
Offline

Chris Snowden

  • Posts: 747
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:20 am

PostTue Oct 05, 2010 2:46 pm

Christopher Jacobs wrote:Cinesation 2010 Capsules

THE WESTBOUND LIMITED (1923) *** 1/2 [/b] 16mm Kodascope =DVD Grapevine= First-rate railroad melodrama in a gorgeous original print and rip-roaring piano accompaniment by Phil Carli. This one is more complexly plotted than most, with several plot threads not quite fleshed out (perhaps due to the Kodascope abridgement?) but effectively acted, very slickly edited, and beautifully photographed. Saying that female romantic lead Ella Hall is "less than photogenic" is a tactful way of describing her very un-moviestar-like appearance, but she gave an adequate performance. Was she some producer's girlfriend or cousin or something? The AFI catalog gives her only five credits in 1922-23 plus an appearance in MADAM SATAN of all things seven years later.


Ella Hall was the wife of the film's director, Emory Johnson, and the daughter-in-law of its scriptwriter. She'd been very active in films in the 1910s, but was semi-retired in the 1920s while raising a family. I agree, she's about the least-attractive leading lady in cinematic history, but at the same time it's nice that this (and a number of other Emory Johnson films) were a family effort.

Still, there's nothing amateurish about this film. Our exalted film historians are welcome to all the 12-reel costume pictures they want; I'll take a good five-reel railroad thriller any day, and The West-Bound Limited is an excellent example of the genre.
-------------------------------------
Chris Snowden
https://televisiondiary.wordpress.com

Return to Talking About Silents

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests