What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
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What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:23 am

This is a continuation of the thread devoted to silent films watched in 2017. Starting January 1, please post new entries here. The older thread will be locked in a few days.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by boblipton » Mon Jan 01, 2018 6:42 pm

Yasujiro Ozu directed one of his dramas of class and happiness, but from the upper side, in Seishun no yume ima izuko (1932; aka Where Now are the Dreams of Youth). Ureo Egawa is a third-year student at university. He's the son of a rich company director, and pretty lackadaisical about his studies, on the cheer-leading squad, hanging out at the local tea house where Ozu regular Kinuyo Tanaka is the object of his fancy, and cutting class to play chess with his cohort. However, while they're cheating on finals, he's summoned home. His father has died, and he has to take over the business. A year later, they show up and ask for jobs. He slips them the answers on the entrance exams.

Gradually, he notices that the easy friendship of their former life is slipping away. They've become yes men. When Miss Tanaka shows up, engaged to one of them, he is startled. Didn't she know he loved her? Didn't his friend know he loved her? What did he think, getting engaged to her?

Ozu always showed a lot of compassion for the underdog in his movies, but in this one, he asks about the top dog. I found the answer surprising, if, as always, compassionate.

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Battra92 » Wed Jan 03, 2018 7:56 am

boblipton wrote:Yasjuliro Ozu directed one of his dramas of class and happiness, but from the upper side, in Seishun no yume ima izuko (1932; aka Where Now are the Dreams of Youth)
Ozu's silents are really good. I have an affinity for those late Japanese silents for many historical and artistic reasons. I know it's almost cliche to say this but Ozu really was amazing and I'm sad it took me until my late 20s to discover him.

---------------

For my first silent of 2018 it was (appropriately enough) The Phantom Carriage. This one has been on my list of films to rewatch for years but I just never could find the time to watch it. New Year's was the best excuse I could think of. Although I planned on watching it on the Eve, I ended up watching it a day later.

I had to watch this one alone in my basement "theater" but that was perhaps the best way to watch it (in the dark, no distractions except for the furnace occasionally making a noise.) It's been really cold here in the Northeast US (colder than it is in Sweden apparently) so everyone has this sense of cold and dark that usually accompanies this darkest time of year which helped put me in the right frame of mind for watching the movie.

At its core, it's not exactly the most original of plots but Sjöström definitely knew how to use atmosphere, lighting and effects to elevate the film beyond a simple morality tale to one of the great films of the silent era.

Great stuff and hopefully I don't wait 6+ more years to watch it again.

Not to beat a dead horse but it feels like with a lot of silent releases with multiple scores are always one of two options: Traditional or orchestral score that 99.9% of the people will listen to and some trust fund hipster playing with a cat piano and an Atari Punk Console.

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:36 pm

Dynamite (1920) is the second short comedy Llord Hamilton starred in for boy wonder producer Jack White and it's a fairly standard slapstick work for the era. It's a quiet day at the gunpowder factory, with the boys tossing cannonballs around, when in comes a union organizesr who leads them in a strike. The factory owner calls in his brother and nephew (Ham) to help him out. The usual assortment of explosive-based gags ensue, ending in a chase with a thrill ending.

Considering the sort of character and beautifully set-up gags that Hamilton would excel at in a few years, I looked for signs of future greatness, but they were largely lacking. Some of the gags have not aged well, although his extended reactions are amusing -- in one, he is caught in an explosion, which leaves him in blackface; however, when he sees himself in a mirror, he thinks he is someone else; in another, a chicken eats gunpowder and immediately lays exploding eggs. Ham would have a way to go to make himself stand out among the crowd of short subject comedians. Still, he would get there.

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:07 pm

Ham gets a job at the lunch counter at a physical fitness club in A Home Made Man and quickly rouses the ire of manager Kewpie Morgan. After the usual series of delightfully inventive disasters with food, he gets reassigned to the gymnasium, where matters soon take a turn towards the disastrous.... with a typicallly Hamiltonian ambiguous triumph,

Ham had been out of production for a while, between injuries and getting involved with some unsavory associates. He had, by all reports, built up a backlog of short subjects including, apparently, this one. Although not one of his best, it's still a funny addition to the list of surviving films of Lloyd Hamilton, far too few of which are available.

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Big Silent Fan » Thu Jan 04, 2018 8:26 am

The Devine Lady (1929) is an epic film and like most every 'epic film', it requires the viewer to be prepared to watch carefully if they're to fully appreciate both the film and it's story. You cannot prejudge the film from the first few minutes (which was simple comedy, perhaps used to draw the audience's attention), because there is so much more than first appears in the beginning. It was directed by Frank Lloyd, someone we should all be familiar with. A brief clip from one of the reviewers at IMDB:

jacobs-greenwood18 December 2016
This acclaimed silent features great naval battle sequences, especially for the time, and won Frank Lloyd his first of two Best Director Academy Awards. The film's Cinematography and Corinne Griffith's performance also received nominations (her only). There are four songs (sung by Griffith, presumably) in the film which we hear, making this a silent hybrid.

My copy is a May, 2014 recording from a TCM broadcast, introduced by Ben Mankiewicz. Picture and sound quality of this hybrid, part Silent/with nearly synchronized sound allowed Vitaphone to showcase what sound added to Silent films could do; background voices of the mobs, singing, actual sounds of sword fighting and broadside cannons as the film later shows the horror of sea battles. It's vividly portrayed in the film.
The reviewer says the sea battles were the reason, but the highlight for me was the carefully directed kiss between Emma, Lady Hamilton, and British war hero Admiral Horatio Nelson. Even by today's standard, a scene like this would be long remembered. It possibly explains Frank Lloyd and Corinne Griffith's Oscar nominations and his winning for this film.
Reading all of the comments at IMDB, it seemed obvious few bothered to watch this 'epic' with the attention it deserves.

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by drednm » Thu Jan 04, 2018 8:46 am

Big Silent Fan wrote:The Devine Lady (1929) is an epic film and like most every 'epic film', it requires the viewer to be prepared to watch carefully if they're to fully appreciate both the film and it's story. You cannot prejudge the film from the first few minutes (which was simple comedy, perhaps used to draw the audience's attention), because there is so much more than first appears in the beginning. It was directed by Frank Lloyd, someone we should all be familiar with. A brief clip from one of the reviewers at IMDB:

jacobs-greenwood18 December 2016
This acclaimed silent features great naval battle sequences, especially for the time, and won Frank Lloyd his first of two Best Director Academy Awards. The film's Cinematography and Corinne Griffith's performance also received nominations (her only). There are four songs (sung by Griffith, presumably) in the film which we hear, making this a silent hybrid.

My copy is a May, 2014 recording from a TCM broadcast, introduced by Ben Mankiewicz. Picture and sound quality of this hybrid, part Silent/with nearly synchronized sound allowed Vitaphone to showcase what sound added to Silent films could do; background voices of the mobs, singing, actual sounds of sword fighting and broadside cannons as the film later shows the horror of sea battles. It's vividly portrayed in the film.
The reviewer says the sea battles were the reason, but the highlight for me was the carefully directed kiss between Emma, Lady Hamilton, and British war hero Admiral Horatio Nelson. Even by today's standard, a scene like this would be long remembered. It possibly explains Frank Lloyd and Corinne Griffith's Oscar nominations and his winning for this film.
Reading all of the comments at IMDB, it seemed obvious few bothered to watch this 'epic' with the attention it deserves.
Griffith's suspicious "Oscar nomination," which appeared in no sources until Robert Osborne wrote his book on the Oscars.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Big Silent Fan » Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:23 am

drednm wrote:Griffith's suspicious "Oscar nomination," which appeared in no sources until Robert Osborne wrote his book on the Oscars.
Perhaps, but you will find Griffith's nomination mentioned at each of these sites today.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2nd_Academy_Awards" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank
http://emanuellevy.com/oscar/divine-lad ... ar-winner/" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0019824/" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank
http://www.oscars.org/oscars/ceremonies/1930" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank

Apparently, true or not, it has become the official record today.

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by drednm » Fri Jan 05, 2018 5:06 am

Big Silent Fan wrote:
drednm wrote:Griffith's suspicious "Oscar nomination," which appeared in no sources until Robert Osborne wrote his book on the Oscars.
Perhaps, but you will find Griffith's nomination mentioned at each of these sites today.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2nd_Academy_Awards" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank
http://emanuellevy.com/oscar/divine-lad ... ar-winner/" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0019824/" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank
http://www.oscars.org/oscars/ceremonies/1930" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank

Apparently, true or not, it has become the official record today.
But not in any contemporary articles or any sources until the 1990s..... just saying. Some sources now list Bette Davis' write-in campaign for Of Human Bondage as a nomination. That's why I now include Marion Davies as a nominee for Peg o' My Heart for the 1934 Oscars in which there were only three acting nominees. Davies polled in the top five thanks to Hearst's campaign.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Big Silent Fan » Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:01 am

drednm wrote:
Big Silent Fan wrote:
drednm wrote:Griffith's suspicious "Oscar nomination," which appeared in no sources until Robert Osborne wrote his book on the Oscars.[/]

But not in any contemporary articles or any sources until the 1990s..... just saying. Some sources now list Bette Davis' write-in campaign for Of Human Bondage as a nomination. That's why I now include Marion Davies as a nominee for Peg o' My Heart for the 1934 Oscars in which there were only three acting nominees. Davies polled in the top five thanks to Hearst's campaign.
Since I've so enjoyed both Peg o' My Heart and Marianne, it's hard for me to understand.
According to IMDB, Peg o' My Heart was promoted by Hearst for an oscar but there were not enough spots in the list to permit adding it to the short list of nominees. Repeating what 'drednm' wrote with a quote from IMDB:
In the days before there were outright Oscar campaigns, William Randolph Hearst pushed hard (behind the scenes) for an Oscar nomination for Marion Davies for this hit film. However, her chances were hurt because there were only three nominees in the acting categories that year. Had there been five nominees, she might very well have won a nomination.

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Big Silent Fan » Fri Jan 05, 2018 10:24 pm

The Silent Enemy (1930).

Incredible Silent picture in wonderful HD. The image comes alive on the screen.

If only they could rework Merion C. Cooper's "Grass" in HD as they've done to this.

Cinematography, the carefully told story and acting by Native Indians; mixing with naturalist stories of wildlife was completely breathtaking from beginning to end.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0020405/" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank
Who could have guess 15 years ago that we would one day be able to watch old films in such wonderful clarity?

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Reason: Embedd YouTube link

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:10 am

Big Silent Fan wrote:The Silent Enemy (1930).

Incredible Silent picture in wonderful HD. The image comes alive on the screen.

If only they could rework Merion C. Cooper's "Grass" in HD as they've done to this.

Cinematography, the carefully told story and acting by Native Indians; mixing with naturalist stories of wildlife was completely breathtaking from beginning to end.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0020405/" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank
Who could have guess 15 years ago that we would one day be able to watch old films in such wonderful clarity?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V67tuV7Ug1g" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank
Yes, it looks amazing - even more so when compared to the poor quality cut-down with dreadful narration which was all that was available before. Seem to remember it reduced an interesting film to little more than rubbish.

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:22 am

A religious theme runs through THE HIDDEN WAY (1926), set on a small farm in the shadow of a prison. Two ex-cons, (Tom Santshi and Arthur Rankin) pal up (after a fashion) with tramp / pickpocket Ned Sparks. Coming to the aid of a runaway horse, the grateful driver (Gloria Gray) and her mother (Mary Carr") invite the three in for food and a bed for the night. A hidden spring gives Sparks the idea for a swindle, but will they go through with it? Add a single mother (with a toe-rag of an ex), and a plan to do the two women out of their rights by said toe-reg's Dad, and you have some familiar ingredients, but very nicely presented.

Perhaps the last section of the film is a bit rushed, with all the threads coming together a little hastily and perhaps a bit unbelievably, but this is a good-looking, gentle-hearted film, perhaps a little reminiscent of THREE BAD MEN and THREE GODFATHERS.

*Carr played a very similar 'sweet little old lady' in the Laurel and Hardy short ONE GOOD TURN (1931).

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Big Silent Fan » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:32 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote: A hidden spring gives Mulligan (actor Ned Sparks) the idea for a swindle, but will they go through with it?
Not much of a film since the story can get confusing.
Ned Sparks was one of those character actors with a perfect voice to match his image. Like with Wallace Beery in Silent films, it's easy to imagine Sparks speaking those words spoken for him with intertitles. His credits are many, including The Miracle Man (1932) where he also played a pickpocket.
Incidentally, the general plot; 'take advantage of the suckers and flee with the loot' was also the Miracle Man plot and like in this film, good triumphs over evil.
Ned Sparks @IMDB
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0817021/?ref_=tt_cl_t5" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank"

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Big Silent Fan » Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:23 pm

I came across "Merry-Go-Round" (1923) this morning and thought a film about carnival life and barkers would be fun to watch, especially seeing both a Ferris Wheel and Merry-go-round early on in the story.
I soon learned this nearly two hour long film exposed the darker side of carney life, with a brutal concession owner and contrasting this with extravagant excesses of the aristocrats, most notably Count Franz Von Hohenegg, played by Norman Kerry. He's the typical officer; juggling marriage engagements, brothels and a night out to the carnival with others who are living life to it's fullest. He flirts with 'organ grinder' Agnes (Mary Philbin), never thinking he could actually fall in love with this commoner.
But he does, and that's the theme of the story. Mix in some of the most brutal scenes imaginable when carney owner Huber assaults most everyone in the story. Revenge comes finally, but in an unexpected way.
Unlike your typical story where "once a villain, always a villain" is the norm, I found the Count's honest effort to reform and atone believable, even if society would never allow him to escape his aristocratic position to marry a commoner.
It was a long film, but when the surprising end came, I was in tears just as I can imagine the 1923 audience would have been. I couldn't help but remember Dreyer's "Michael" which also teaches about this sort of love.
Eric von Stroheim was fired while making this film, but he was involved in it's production and he's listed as (uncredited) director, writer and costume designer in the film. Director Rupert Julian reshot much of the film, but Stroheim's excessive choice of an imported Vienna Trolley Car and the wild 'Loving Cup' scene with a nude woman emerging to serve the alcohol still remains in the film.
Other highlights: The film shows a frankfurter street vendor selling franks with a simple paper napkin (as was done before the invention of the hotdog bun), and there's a trained orangutan, reminiscent of 'Clyde' in Clint Eastwood's "Every Which Way but Loose." No 'man in a monkey suit' here.

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:23 pm

The recent posting regarding the re-availability of 'lost' films in the afterlife (but only for the religious) begs the question "How will one catch up with them all?" So much rare and obscure material is now available that the job is a tough one, unless one forgoes stuff such as sleep, work and eating.

Yet another 'new' one was THE CLINGING VINE (1926) which has mannish, but lovelorn business secretary Leatrice Joy having her act pepped up by her employer's wife (Toby Claude - only five credits in IMDb) in order to win the hand of grandson Tom Moore. Amusing for a good part of its running time, the joke wears a little thin in the second half, although extra plot elements are introduced in the shape of Moore's invention as well as a crooked house party guest, played by Dell Henderson. A nice copy, with a neat opening twist (SPOILER) when one wonders why the clever young executive wears his waistcoat buttoned the 'wrong' way. Unsurprisingly, the film is taken from a stage play, and has that 'feel' to it, especially as the greater part is set during a long house party. Another thing (which one IMDb reviewer ['LuvSopr'] noted) was that the dresses Joy is put in by Grandma Bancroft are not always very becoming (although they might have seemed more so at the time), at best giving the impression she had stepped out from a musical comedy set in the Deep South.

On the whole, I found THE CLINGING VINE only intermittently successful, most of the amusing stuff coming in the first half. The bit about the invention seemed familiar, as it had been an element of another recently viewed silent, UP THE LADDER (1925).

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by boblipton » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:37 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:The recent posting regarding the re-availability of 'lost' films in the afterlife (but only for the religious) begs the question "How will one catch up with them all?" So much rare and obscure material is now available that the job is a tough one, unless one forgoes stuff such as sleep, work and eating. (1925).
Nice to have the choice, isn't it?

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by greta de groat » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:50 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:The recent posting regarding the re-availability of 'lost' films in the afterlife (but only for the religious) begs the question "How will one catch up with them all?" So much rare and obscure material is now available that the job is a tough one, unless one forgoes stuff such as sleep, work and eating.
If you've got eternity, it's probably not an issue.
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote: Yet another 'new' one was THE CLINGING VINE (1926) ... Another thing (which one IMDb reviewer ['LuvSopr'] noted) was that the dresses Joy is put in by Grandma Bancroft are not always very becoming (although they might have seemed more so at the time), at best giving the impression she had stepped out from a musical comedy set in the Deep South.
I quite liked this one, though you are right that the joke gets overworked. I'm a big fan of Leatrice Joy. As for the costumes, i thought that the excessively feminine costumes were (intentionally) hilarious. I was also rather taken by Toby Claude and was surprised she did so few films.

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by oldposterho » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:26 pm

Thanks to the good folks at Arte was able to add another non-Lang German silent with Unter der Laterne (Under the Lantern). Lissi Arna is a young fraulein who, after an innocent night spent with her boyfriend, is locked out of her house by her brutish father. Unfortunately, this starts a downward spiral through a series of increasingly oily creeps that literally ends in the gutter for poor Lissi.

Director Gerhardt Lamprecht keeps the descent apace and there's even an extraordinary montage as Lissi is taken in by a theater impresario that really stands out. Overall it's right in there with the Borzages and Wellmans of the era. One other standout is Carla Bartheel as the rotten dame who sets much of the story in motion, it's probably not a mystery as to why her career appears to have ended in 1933, although if imdb is to be believed she survived the war intact.

It's a beautiful 2k restoration by the German Film Museum with a very enjoyable score by Bernd Schultheis.

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:27 pm

boblipton wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:The recent posting regarding the re-availability of 'lost' films in the afterlife (but only for the religious) begs the question "How will one catch up with them all?" So much rare and obscure material is now available that the job is a tough one, unless one forgoes stuff such as sleep, work and eating. (1925).
Nice to have the choice, isn't it?

Bob
I couldn't agree more, says he, noticing an upload of Warner Baxter in LINDA (1929)...

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Red Bartlett » Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:16 am

Ace of Hearts
(1921) - Lon Chaney

From the TCM Archives Lon Chaney DVD set. I enjoyed the score and the Robert Osborne intro.

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by missdupont » Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:30 am

Friday night at UCLA I saw THE LAST DAWN (1917), one of only two surviving Hungarian silent features by Michael Curtiz, or should I say Mihaly Kertesz. It was a beautifully shot, well made drawing room story, mixing together melodrama and odd comedy. There was some great camerawork like dolly shots, including one in the opening titles introducing the characters when one character is seen first through an odd angle in a mirror and then dollied over to her face. There are also some lovely compositions, particularly when a group of four men surround a man standing on a bridge, they make almost a diamond around him. Well acted for the time and underplayed. Some nice tinting too, blue for night, and yellow to represent electrical light when they flip a switch.

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Battra92 » Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:04 pm

Thanks to YouTube I was able to watch The Greatest Question - a 1918 film starring Lilian Gish and was directed by D.W. Griffith. The film itself was quite good, even if the plot was a little iffy, but I feel that it would've been a lot more effective had the titles been rewritten. There were a lot of "Character explains X" title cards instead of dialogue or just letting the audience infer it.

Funny how the majority of silent films I saw as a kid/teen were from the 20s (usually the mid to late 20s) or the early days of Edison and Biograph. That middle period is always quite interesting in its transition.

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:30 am

Received the DVD of Lloyd Hamilton that was restored by way of a funding through Kickstarter. It has 6 short comedies on it. Before receiving the DVD I'd seen only one "Ham and Bud" short with Hamilton, and I didn't think it very funny. These 6 - at least the 4 I've watched - are very different. I've watched "His Musical Sneeze" (1919), "Dynamite" (1920), "The Simp" (1920), and "April Fool" (1920). Some comments:

The action is continual, continuous, madcap, and frenetic. That alone certainly keeps the eyes alert and makes the movies inviting. The plots are varied, although certain motifs remain, and leitmotifs surprisingly the same, especially the use of explosives (!). A couple of the 4 are laugh-out-loud funny at times, but overall the films are surreal in their progress, sometimes with no continuity at all, just occurrences that suddenly become the reality. I think this is the secret of Hamilton. I don't know that it would appeal to everybody today, but it certainly has appealed to me. I can see some similarities with some of Buster Keaton's short films from the same period in respect to a near surrealness. Now, there have been some continuity issues with me that are genuine inconsistencies. One either accepts them face value or goes crazy! Perhaps that's the overall appeal of Hamilton. Either you take him or you don't. He's fun, people. Absolutely nuttier than a fruitcake, but he's fun. I've enjoyed the films so far, and I'll watch the other two tonight. The other two are "Moonshine" (1920) and "A Home Made Man" (1928). The last was directed by Norman Taurog. For the record "April Fool" and "Moonshine" were directed by Charley Chase (and he appears uncredited in both besides). One last thing: "His Musical Sneeze" has one of the only surviving performances of Virginia Rappe of the Fatty Arbuckle scandal fame.

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:48 pm

Was intrigued by CAPTAIN FLY-BY-NIGHT (1922) after reading a William K Everson's comments on the film in 'American Silent Film', particularly his scathing comments on the 'moth-eaten Mexicans' who provide part of the villainous content.

In this instance, Everson was mistaken, as the Mexicans were in fact Indians, although one cannot quibble with the moth-eaten aspect. Not to mention the 'greasy'. Quiet a brief movie (a cut-down), CAPTAIN FLY-BY NIGHT is a rather rambling Zorro-like affair with a choice of two possible villains, a senorita due to be married, and a plot to overthrow California! An early outing from director William K Howard, the film is not really very good, although there is the odd pictorial flourish from time-to-time, which may or may not be his work. Both hero and villain (which is which?) are dressed identically, although once one works out what is happening, one can guess the outcome, one being played by Johnnie Walker.

With that fellow in the lead, one might expect the film to be a little tongue-in-cheek, which in fact it is, though nowhere near as amusing as it seems to be aiming at. Plenty of non-PC humour in the shape of shiftless, treacherous and lazy natives, which would be more tolerable if the material had been funny. One of those films which could certainly be a lot worse than it is, but is nevertheless of no more than modest interest.

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:24 pm

After having rather a tough time with an indifferent upload of GARDIENS DE PHARE (1929), the quality of the copy of Jean Gremillon's MALDONE (1928) shows just how good some of the French silents were.

The story of this one is rather slight, following a middle-aged carter (Charles Dullin) who has turned his back on his family and farm and chooses to live among the barge folk and gipsies. The fellow then becomes infatuated with a gipsy maiden, which proves his (temporary) undoing. During this business his brother is killed in an accident, and the slightly Harbottle-ish Old Retainer goes in search of the fellow.

Once found, he is persuaded to return home, where he is thoroughly miserable as landowner, and has foolishly married the daughter (Anabella) of a neighbouring farmer, who is also made miserable. What will be the outcome? As I said, the story of this film is slim, but it holds the attention through its atmosphere, playing, and feeling for place. Handsomely restored, and with a good musical accompaniment, MALDONE is worth catching up with and rather neglected until recently.

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Sat Jan 20, 2018 1:24 pm

I hope that there are better copies of THE ICE FLOOD (1926) around than the one I watched last night. This one is a bit of a curate's egg of a film, set in a logging company. The owner, Thomas De Quincey (!!!) is delighted that his son is back from Oxford, but is rather alarmed when he declares his intention to troubleshoot for the Old Man without saying who he is.

After this intriguing opening, the film slackens up rather, with the son (Kenneth Harlan) turning up at the camp and encountering the local bully. He also meets Viola Dana and her young charge, who is in need of an operation to sort out his lameness. A dance scene which acts to thicken the plot is probably the best thing in the film, although the long-time-a-coming ice floe sequences are quite effective in parts. The formidable lady in charge of the punch tub is also rather effective.

What isn't, however is the business (SPOILER) whereby Dana is bundled up and cast adrift in a very fragile vessel. Not only does the boat appear as dry as a bone despite the raging torrents, but it remains unscathed until the last moment, which stretches credibility somewhat. A bit of a mixed blessing, this one...

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Sun Jan 21, 2018 4:31 am

A pre-Rascals appearance by Mary Ann Jackson easily steals THE BARGAIN HUNT (1928). Dragged by Mother to the latest Sale, Mary Ann is left in the creche, where she proceeds to vet candidates for the role of little brother, having seen one mother leave a few cents in the Milk Fund bottle, thinking she has bought the little perisher, Rejecting one as too dear at 17c (confusing the labels for price tags) she plumps for one at 5c... A most amusing ten minutes' worth.

Having to choose between a longer version of THE BARGAIN (Reginald Barker, 1914) without music and a shorter one with, I went for the longer one. A theatrical piece, with the actors appearing in evening dress, then in costume, it stars William S Hart in his first feature-length film as a bandit who decides to reform after being nursed back to health by the daughter of a local prospector. Unfortunately his past catches up with him and he is taken by the sheriff before he can return his loot. On the way, the fool loses the money at the roulette tables, so Hart strikes a bargain...

Although it comes over a bit like a stage play, THE BARGAIN is handsomely shot and has a very good pictorial sense to it, with the plot improving as the story develops. The outcome of it will be familiar to those of us who have seen STAGECOACH and BILLY THE KID, but it winds up as being a pretty satisfying and atmospheric film which seems quite advanced for such an early feature.

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by boblipton » Sun Jan 21, 2018 8:36 pm

This week the BFI has posted to their Youtube site at

https://www.youtube.com/user/BFIfilms/videos" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank

a score of animated films, dating from 1904 through the 1970s that should be of interest to Nitratevillains. I have reviewed half a dozen of them on the IMDb, but feel their short length -- particularly the early ones -- make them worth watching. Because the early ones are among the first ones making use of the techniques -- claymation; paper silhouette; and so on -- the techniques are themselves the point of the films.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
Life's too short to sit on our rears watching other people's work.
— Bob Fells

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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Big Silent Fan » Mon Jan 22, 2018 9:49 am

I never spent much time on YouTube before buying a Blu-ray player with wifi to my computer. Now, each time I finish watching something on line with my player, YouTube offers more unknown (to me) Silent film choices.
Today it was The Signal Tower (1924) about the lives of the signal men along the long railroad track routes through the country side. Their only connection; the telegraph key.
Filled with very believable action scenes of a moving train (seen from every vantage point) and very realistic train crashes over those suspension trestles spanning the valleys. Add to that, the villain role, played by Wallace Beery and the film is exciting from beginning to end. IMDB says it's just 70 minutes, but what I watched was just under 80 minutes.

If you're not convinced to have a look yet, I can tell you it was directed by Clarence Brown who also does a cameo in the film as a 'switchman'. The two women in the story were Virginia Valli as Sally the wife, and Dot Farley as her ditzy Cousin Gertie, both very attractive. Rockliffe Fellowes, a name unfamiliar to me, played Sally's husband Dave. His was perhaps the biggest part in this well done film. The sets were exceptional and the train ride unforgettable.
Last edited by Big Silent Fan on Mon Jan 22, 2018 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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