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

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

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:46 am

Her Defiance (1916): Her brother wants Cleo Madison to marry old and rich Willis Marks. She loves Edward Hearn, a businessman from the big city. When he is called back home, he writes her a note saying he will return, but it is never delivered. When Miss Madison discovers she is pregnant, she must make some hard choices.

This two-reel drama was co-directed by Miss Madison (one of eighteen she directed from 1914-1918) and Joe King, an actor who directed two movies; I suspect Mr. King handled the scenes in which Miss Madison appeared (most of them), since directing yourself is not easy.

It's a nice potboiler for the popular Universal star.The outdoor settings are good-looking, there's some nice cross-cutting while the lovers are parted, and a lovely shot of Miss Madison staring pensively out a train window. It's by no means an important or key movie, but like all well-made efforts, it's very much worth looking at, for a rare survivor of the many thousands of lost contemporaries.

The Curse of Quon Gwon: When the Far East Mingles with the West (1916) holds some interest as the earliest known example of independent Chinese-American production. It was produced, written and directed by Marion Wong, who appeared in it; her family made up the rest of the cast. In 2004 the only known surviving print was donated by Miss Wong's nieces and nephews to the National Film Board (without titles) and it was added to the National Film Registry two years later.

A young Chinese American couple get married and are amused and repulsed by the appurtenances of the ceremony. When they have a baby, it falls sick and the mother is exiled to wander around until the child recovers.

Although the actors do not seem particularly talented in their performances, the production is well done. Props, costumes and settings are very well done. The camerawork is solid, as is the editing, offering a good movie about the conflict between old and new.

The IMDb trivia claims this is the first movie directed by a Chinese-American, which may well be true. It also claims this is among the earliest movies directed by a woman. I wonder what Alice Guy, who had been directing movies since 1896 would have made of that claim!

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

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Nov 07, 2018 3:46 pm

And finishing up Found at Mostly Lost vol. 3:

The Sunshine Spreader (1920s): A rube wanders down from the hills and asks for a job from grouchy Tiny Sandford. By the time this two-reel might comedy is done, she has married off her boss to a poor widow and saved her son from a pair of confidence tricksters.

It's a little sweet-tempered for my taste in comedy, but it's an amusing little morality tale of the value of a happy heart and sweet intentions. In addition, it's offered in a handsomely toned print.

Sandford is well known mostly for playing cops in a slew of Roach and Chaplin comedies. However, bit parts aside, he occasionally got important roles, like Porthos in Fairbanks' The Iron Mask.

Do Me a Favor (1922): Snub is enjoying a quiet night's sleep on a park bench, despite the efforts of Mark Jones, a cop who uses his truncheon on bums' heads like a xylophone. Up rushes Marie Mosquini. Her husband -- she's not married to Snub in this one, which must have been a welcome relief -- has been drunk on hair tonic for days. She asks Snub to come home and help her with the spouse. Snub agrees and the two of them try to deal with Eddie Baker in this fine one-reel comedy.

It's directed by Charley Chase, which means it offers a fine assortment of gags. Pollard seems to have devised his Roach comedies like Tarrantino writes movie scripts; however, where Tarantino takes a perfect shot (usually stolen from another movie) and builds his script to get from one to the next, Snub took a series of gags and then wrote bits to connect them. Some very funny titles are in evidence. I believe they were written by H.M. Walker.

The print that appears on Undercrank Production's Found at Mostly Lost vol. 2 lacks the final punchline. Get together with your friends to write it yourself!

Looking at compilations like this is often like reaching into a grab-bag with one or two goodies and a set mousetrap. This one has an assortment with no duds and a couple of amazingly good shorts; I'm particularly impressed by And the Villain Still Pursued Her and the Bobby Bumps cartoon, and The Faithful Dog pushes my buttons. In addition, the various fellows at the piano -- Ben Model, Phil Carli and Andrew Simpson -- offer an unusually amusing variety in accompaniment. I think that there's something to please every taste in silent movie here, and nothing to displease. Bravo!

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:10 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Battra92 » Wed Nov 07, 2018 8:51 pm

Rodney wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 5:05 pm
Battra92 wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 10:06 am
...I wonder if I should watch J'Accuse or All Quiet on the Western Front for Armistice Day this year.
I'll be watching Wings, from the piano, at the Faulkner Performing Arts Center at the U of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
Very good film as well. I was thinking since my wife and kid won't be around on Saturday maybe J'Accuse and then Wings on Sunday.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:47 am

Loading a Vessel at Charleston, S.C. (1902):Here's this big steamship in Charleston harbor and people and boats are scurrying about.

While the composition is good, and the movement within the frame is certainly adequate -- there's a small motor launch that zips along to emphasize the deliberate movement -- I am confronted with the question of the impetus to make this movie at all. Was it commissioned by the owner of the company? Was it intended for the Charleston market? If so, couldn't the audience go to the harbor and see things like this? Was Charleston considered so exotic that people would be fascinated?

I think this is simply the sort of actuality that had been made for seven years and they were still making it out of habit.

The Haymarket (1903):
The Tenderloin was part of midtown Manhattan where you could have a good time, if you liked shady ladies, doped drinks, and the likelihood of waking up with an aching head, a missing wallet, a terrible disease and aboard a ship where you'd wind up working your way past Cape Horn. Mostly, it was 6th Avenue and Broadway from 14th Street for a mile north. It was a very popular destination for a night on the town, and its center was the Haymarket, a dance Hall where all sorts of remarkable things happened. Here we see pick-ups, rowdy dances and the police coming along to load everyone into paddy wagons.

It's clearly a directed movie, and there's no director credited. Given that Billy Bitzer is the cameraman, I'll attribute it to him. Given the clearly illegal and immoral goings-on, it looks like a movie for a men's smoker.

A Daughter of the Law (1921): Grace Cunard is an Internal Revenue agent. She wheedles her boss into letting her go down to the Tennessee mountains to deal with moonshiners. Posing as an artist, she noses around and makes friends with the women. Eventually, the men figure out what she is and consider shooting her, but eventually decide to make it look like she accidentally tied herself to a log on the wild river.

Grace Cunard entered the films in 1911 and, in partnership with Francis Ford, became a popular serial queen. By 1912, she was writing movies, and by 1913, directing. While her popularity peaked about 1916 and she moved solidly into features, her career was in decline by a decade later, and sound reduced her to an uncredited player after 1935. Her last known screen appearance was in 1946 and she died, age 73, in 1967, a half century after she was dubbed "the Serial Queen."

This one is a fast-paced two-reeler, well-shot and directed by Miss Cunard from a script by Marion H. Cohn. The print I saw was in beautiful shape and it's a good one for fans of "action girl" movies to take a look at.

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

Unread post by Jim Roots » Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:11 am

boblipton wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:47 am

The Haymarket (1903):
The Tenderloin was part of midtown Manhattan where you could have a good time, if you liked shady ladies, doped drinks, and the likelihood of waking up with an aching head, a missing wallet, a terrible disease and aboard a ship where you'd wind up working your way past Cape Horn. Mostly, it was 6th Avenue and Broadway from 14th Street for a mile north. It was a very popular destination for a night on the town, and its center was the Haymarket, a dance Hall where all sorts of remarkable things happened. Here we see pick-ups, rowdy dances and the police coming along to load everyone into paddy wagons.
Okay. Planning my next trip to NYC.

Jim

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

Unread post by boblipton » Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:43 am

Jim Roots wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:11 am
boblipton wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:47 am

The Haymarket (1903):
The Tenderloin was part of midtown Manhattan where you could have a good time, if you liked shady ladies, doped drinks, and the likelihood of waking up with an aching head, a missing wallet, a terrible disease and aboard a ship where you'd wind up working your way past Cape Horn. Mostly, it was 6th Avenue and Broadway from 14th Street for a mile north. It was a very popular destination for a night on the town, and its center was the Haymarket, a dance Hall where all sorts of remarkable things happened. Here we see pick-ups, rowdy dances and the police coming along to load everyone into paddy wagons.
Okay. Planning my next trip to NYC.

Jim
Enjoy the cruise!

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

Unread post by wich2 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:46 am

Jim -

Speaking as someone who lived on the edge of that area for a longtime, and now lives a bit west of it:

- 1. Wiki says, "The area originally ran from 24th Street to 42nd Street and from Fifth Avenue to Seventh Avenue." And I'd roughly agree. (As did my late boss in the pawnshop on 23rd.) So, a bit north of your description.

- 2. It ain't what it was then! Even when I got here in the '70s, most of that "local color" had moved to 42nd/Times Square and surrounding.

- 3. Now, there IS no such defined "fun city" on the gentrified Isle of the Manhattoes.

Best,
- Craig

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

Unread post by boblipton » Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:19 pm

Broadway Love (1918): Dorothy Phillips is a new chorus girl, invited to a party by her friend, Juanita Hansen (whose character has the unfortunate name of Cherry Blow), where there are plenty of rich men. One, Harry von Meter, has lost all his money and she has to talk him out of killing himself. Another, William Stowell, offers to take her home before the drenching she has taken turns into a cold, and assaults her in his car.

Miss Phillips jumps from the moving car and is injured. Stowell is thoroughly ashamed, and pays for the hospital and the doctor-ordered seashore rest. There's also Lon Chaney as a thoroughly unpleasant fellow from Miss Phillips' home town. He also attacks her and has to thrown out by Miss Hansen's maid.

In sum, all the men want Miss Phillips, with or without her consent. It's a disquieting movie, but not because of that. It's Miss Phillips' acceptance of the situation that's bad.

Quite logically, that's the feeling that director and co-screenwriter Ida May Parks wanted the audience to walk away with. Add in the fact that this is a Universal Bluebird movie (their middle-budgeted line) with a studio-mandated happy ending, and steam all but pours from my ears.

Thematically I see a lot in common with the sort of gold-digging comedies that Warners produced in the late silent and early sound era. In those, however, the women are hard-boiled types, for whom love is a commercial transaction -- except for Ruby Keeler, whose happy plots end in a marriage knot. In this one, when Miss Hansen says she hates men, Miss Philips rebukes her; she feels worthless and seeks her revenge on men for making her feel that way.

It would work in a cynical comedy. Here, it's all a little solemn and continual, with never a break from solemn moralizing. I prefer the occasional breath so I can go back to the hard movie with renewed attention. There's not that here.

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:52 pm

THE TRADER KEEPS MOVING (1924) is a short from Educational about a young man who swaps his way round the American countryside, starting off with a penknife and ending up with a motor. He then finds the original penknife has been tricked out of they young lad he swapped it from by a ne'er-do-well, though seems to regard it as the return of his 'capital' rather than something to give back to the lad, should he see him again. Pleasantly entertaining, with attractive atmosphere, but with a rather dubious moral code to it.

Decided to watch DEFYING DESTINY (1923) on the strength of the Presence of Russell Simpson as a leading man, and in love, at that!

A prologue give the romantic leads (to be played by Monte Blue and Irene Rich) as youngsters. After the girl has to stay at the boy's house due to heavy rains and flooding, a fire ensues when his clothes are drying too close to the stove. Although the two survive, the boy is badly scarred, and his parents killed. The girl's father is a banker, and gives the boy a job out of gratitude and sympathy.

Years later, as an adult (Blue), the boy is framed for swindling the bank, when it is another clerk, whose wife (Jackie Saunders) is profligate with money, who has appropriated it and lost it gambling. Blue leaves town, even though the court has exonerated him, as the bank refuses to reinstate him due to public opinion. After some while, and another accident, Blue is given the chance of plastic surgery by doctor Tully Marshall who sees a chance for excellent publicity. In the meantime Rich is being wooed by fellow clerk Russell Simpson. whom she doesn't actually love. He has also heard the swindler's dying confession, and the temptation to keep silent is too strong for him.

His face restored, and a moustache added, Blue is now ready to return to his hometown for a spot of revenge and to teach the hypocritical townfolk a lesson...

Although this synopsis may give the impression of a long-winded, convoluted movie, nothing could be further from the truth. From the beginning, the film exerts a strong hold, from which there is little let-up, and although some of the elements of hypocrisy in a small town will be quite familiar, they are well presented here. Even the lack of a music track is not mush of a hindrance with a story as watchable as this one.

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

Unread post by Big Silent Fan » Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:04 pm

Today I watched Head Winds (1925), a forgettable story that featured Patsy Ruth Miller in the cast. I have seen her in both "The First Auto," and playing Esmeralda, opposite Lon Chaney in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."
When a man learns from friends that a girl he secretly loves is about to get married, he returns to San Francisco and arranges to kidnap her on her wedding day. Eventually, she succumbs and falls in love with this man who had treated her so poorly.
I skipped ahead to the next feature and discovered, Defying Destiny (1923).
This is an incredibly interesting story running 80 minutes, about a small town and both the rich and not so rich that live together. The story twists and turns repeatedly, holding my interest each time. There isn't any music so you must add your own, unless you want to watch in dead silence.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:32 pm

The Dream Lady (1918):When her uncle dies, Carmel Myers decides she wants four things: a cottage in the woods, a kimono, a Livonian bloodhound and a perfect gentleman. So she sets up as a gypsy in the cottage and tries to make others' dreams come true, including Kathleen Emerson, who wants a vacation as a man and her shy neighbor, Thomas Holding, who's in awe of her free spirit.... until he catches Miss Emerson in pants kissing Miss Myers.

It's a light-hearted movie, based on a novel by Margeret Widdemer, carried on Miss Myers' laughing charms. It's also pretty monotonous, and if it were much longer than its 50 minutes of screen time, it would have been far too sappy for my tastes. There are a couple of plot complications, not only Miss Myers apparently being a hussy, but a side issue of Philo McCullough as an inventor looking for backing, but they don't complicate anything to the point where the audience can't expect anything but a happy ending. It's a good thing Miss Myers is so charming.

Carmel Myers had entered the movies three years earlier when D.W. Griffith was consulting her father the rabbi for research on Intolerance. Carmel had walked past the gigantic sets and said they fascinated her, so Griffith invited her onto the shoot. That's the casual way a major career could start in those days.

The Sheriff's Streak of Yellow (1915): Sheriff William S. Hart gets the drop on outlaw Jack Nelson, and realizes that Nelson's mother had saved his life years ago. So he lets him go, with the warning that he'll kill him if he shows up in town again. The town isn't happy with this. They think Hart is a coward and demand his badge.

Hart directed this short western himself, and it's a quickly told story, with some typical Hart gunplay. The cinematographer is Robert Doeran. His other credits are Hart westerns of this period. Hart's usual cameraman was Joseph August, a craftsman with the camera.

It's a short and bleak little western, pretty much in the vein of Hart's "Good Bad Man".... except that Nelson is pretty much all bad.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by FrankFay » Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:30 pm

boblipton wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:32 pm


Carmel Myers had entered the movies three years earlier when D.W. Griffith was consulting her father the rabbi for research on Intolerance, Carmel had walked past the gigantic sets and said they fascinated her, so Griffith invited her onto the shoot. That's the casual way a major career could start in those days.
Bob
Gloria Swanson decided to be a dress extra for a lark, and she was wearing such an eye catching outfit that she drew attention.
Eric Stott

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

Unread post by boblipton » Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:49 am

Her Indian Hero (1912): Jack Conway takes his fiancee, Dorothy Davenport, to see a tribe of Indians. She is taken by George Gebhardt in his native regalia. She invites him to visit her if he's ever in her neighborhood. One day, she gets a note saying he is about to call.

It's one of the earliest Christie movies shot in California after they set up shop there; some sources claim it is the first. Over all, I found it a bit stiff and slow.

Jack Conway not only starred in this short film. It was his first credit as a director, co-directing with Al Christie and Milton Fahrey. He would go on to a long career behind the camera, eventually settling in at Metro-Goldwyn Mayer in 1925, where he would become a reliable handler of a wide variety of subjects, from adventure to comedy. He retired in 1948 and died four years later.

Le Bon Invalide et Les Enfants (1910): When a bully takes their ball away, a kindly old man allows a group to use his head and other body parts in their games.

It's a nice little trick film by Étienne Arnaud and clearly plays with the idea that old veterans have wooden legs and other prostheses. While the techniques involved were simple for the day -- some models for the body parts, some cloth to cover the title character where the parts have been removed, and stopping the camera to cover the transformations -- it's done well enough to be startling when it first happens and amusing thereafter.

Monsieur Arnaud was born in 1879 and his career as a movie director stretched from 1905 through 1914. He seems to have become a dramatist after that, given he is credited as a writer of five movies in the 1930s, two of them from plays. He died in 1955.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by boblipton » Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:09 pm

Motherhood: Life's Great Miracle (1925) covers the pregnancies of two expectant mothers: one a social-climbing, wealthy woman who is reluctantly talked out of an abortion, and the other a lower-middle-class woman who accepts the dictates of her husband, doctor and acquaintances. They accept the era's platitudes, attitudes and understanding of the process.... all of them male. There are also bouts of art titles, offering high-blown, long-winded prayers.

It's more an illustrated tract than a story. It's most remarkable for the talent involved. Writer-director Lita is said to be the first Black woman to direct a feature movie. Neither she nor the four featured actors seem to have made another movie.

More than 90 years have passed since this movie was produced for States Rights distribution, and society and its attitudes have changed enormously. Even so, I find this has an ironic attitude to the entire subject.

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Sun Nov 11, 2018 1:19 pm

Big Silent Fan wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:04 pm
Today I watched Head Winds (1925), a forgettable story that featured Patsy Ruth Miller in the cast. I have seen her in both "The First Auto," and playing Esmeralda, opposite Lon Chaney in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."
When a man learns from friends that a girl he secretly loves is about to get married, he returns to San Francisco and arranges to kidnap her on her wedding day. Eventually, she succumbs and falls in love with this man who had treated her so poorly.
I skipped ahead to the next feature and discovered, Defying Destiny (1923).
This is an incredibly interesting story running 80 minutes, about a small town and both the rich and not so rich that live together. The story twists and turns repeatedly, holding my interest each time. There isn't any music so you must add your own, unless you want to watch in dead silence.
Nice to see another thumbs-up for this fascinating movie which I, too, found the other day and thought a very worthwhile discovery...

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Sun Nov 11, 2018 1:21 pm

boblipton wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:09 pm
Motherhood: Life's Great Miracle (1925) covers the pregnancies of two expectant mothers: one a social-climbing, wealthy woman who is reluctantly talked out of an abortion, and the other a lower-middle-class woman who accepts the dictates of her husband, doctor and acquaintances. They accept the era's platitudes, attitudes and understanding of the process.... all of them male. There are also bouts of art titles, offering high-blown, long-winded prayers.

It's more an illustrated tract than a story. It's most remarkable for the talent involved. Writer-director Lita is said to be the first Black woman to direct a feature movie. Neither she nor the four featured actors seem to have made another movie.

More than 90 years have passed since this movie was produced for States Rights distribution, and society and its attitudes have changed enormously. Even so, I find this has an ironic attitude to the entire subject.

Bob
Would be interested to find out where this one turned up from - sounds well worth a look...

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

Unread post by boblipton » Sun Nov 11, 2018 6:08 pm

Fanchon, the Cricket (1915) was considered a lost movie when Mary Pickford died. A copy turned up in the Cinematheque Francaise, as they so often do, and in cooperation with the Mary Pickford Foundation, the BFI, Flicker Alley.... oh, the usual suspects, it has been preserved, restored somewhat and made available on a Blu-Ray/dvd set. I looked at the dvd version. It's a handsome offering, with only a few imperfection on the print, and a handsome toning to the affair: golden for daylight, blue for night, red for interiors.

It's based on a novel and written for the screen by director James Kirkwood and Frances Marion. Mary is Fanchon, a poor girl of a French village. Her grandmother is supposed to be a witch, but Mary is a free spirit, running around in rags. She takes a shine to Jack Standing, but all of the young villagers despise her; she beats up real-life brother Jack Pickford, sticks her tongue out at real-life sister Lottie, saves Standing from drowning and finds his idiot brother and has a grand time romping around the wild in the Delaware Water Gap for the first half of the movie. Then, as so often happens, the plot eventuates.

It's the second Pickford vehicle that Frances Marion had a hand in writing (I don't count The New York Hat), and Pickford gets a lot out of the 'waif' role. The two women would have a fruitful collaboration, and Marion would direct a movie or two for America's sweetheart. Still, things slow down in the second half, and Standing is pretty much a stiff all the way through. Costume design is partially to blame. With his knee pants, wide-brimmed hat and collar, he winds up looking like Grady Sutton; he performs his role with the lack of brio that Sutton put into his comic nullities.... but Standing is simply a nullity.

Still, it's always good when a long-lost feature of Miss Pickford shows up. I'm glad I saw it.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Sun Nov 11, 2018 7:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Sun Nov 11, 2018 7:52 pm

Interesting that Jack Standing makes so little impression when he is one of those Standings—which is to say, his brother was Sir Guy Standing, seen in films like Death Takes a Holiday and The Lives of a Bengal Lancer, and great-grandnephew John was recently seen in The Crown and Game of Thrones.

Looking them up, I see they also owned a piece of property in England you may have heard of: Bletchley Park.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by Battra92 » Sun Nov 11, 2018 10:33 pm

I spent most of the day with things related to The Great War (particularly the YouTube channel that I've followed for Four years and contains quite a bit of Pathe footage of the time) but after the kid finally went to bed I traveled to my home theater and for almost three hours watched Abel Gance's 191 tour de force: J'Accuse.

There's nothing really to be said about the film that hasn't been said by people much smarter and more learned than I (I'm just a humble computer guy who has a hobby of watching movies that most people my age don't like) but I can say that it was a moving experience, especially on such an important day.

The only jarring part was that the typeface of the intertitles kept changing but I suspect that was a choice made in the restoration to use whatever titles they had rather than create all new ones (though some new ones were created.)

Robert Israel's score was fantastic. When I first got into silent films all those years ago I remember if it said Carl Davis or Robert Israel you know you were in for something good (how lucky we are now that we don't have just two names to look for when it comes to music.) So yes. this was a great score and I enjoyed it a lot.

I think if I have time tomorrow I may watch Hearts of the World or Wings unless I decide I've spent too much time in the Great War and need a break.

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

Unread post by oldposterho » Mon Nov 12, 2018 8:38 am

Continuing the WWI theme I watched The Battle of the Somme (1916) as my bit in for the anniversary of the Armistice (and for George). An early documentary, filmed (mostly) at the time of the battle, it was quite harrowing to see just what our boys had to endure, even though it was scrubbed so as not to be too disturbing for the folks back home. Since it is a fairly static film I watched it with the commentary by some dude from the Imperial War Museum. Despite the breathless presentation and micro-details it definitely provided an extra level of understanding of what I was seeing, particularly separating the real from the staged shots.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Mon Nov 12, 2018 3:13 pm

600,000 Francs Par Mois aka Mister Mustard's Millions (1926) When bored American billionaire Charles Vanel is amused by the happiness of poor railroad man Nicolas Koline, he offers him a wager: if Koline and his family can spend 20,000 francs a day (about $11,000 in current American money) for a year, then he'll give him a nice pension. The rest of the movie is about the poor man and his family's efforts to win the bet.

The copy I looked at was derived form a Pathe-Baby cutdown, so I expect it was originally longer than the 51 minutes it took me to watch this version. I also suspect it was not a series of titles, followed by brief clips -- illustrated text movie-making in 1926 seems unlikely. In addition, the people involved (except for the screenwriter) had healthy movie careers. Koline (who also directed the movie) was one of the Russian emigree actors who did so well; he had appeared in Gance's Napoleon and he worked until 1955, retired to Long Island and died in 1966, age 88. Vanel also had a long career, starting out on screen and appearing in more than 150 features through 1988; he died the following year, almost 97.

It's an amusing set-up out of Brewster's Millions, but the lack on ornamentation in the shortened version doesn't leave that much pleasure.

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

Unread post by oldposterho » Tue Nov 13, 2018 6:51 pm

Germaine Dulac's La souriante Madame Beudet or The Smiling Madame Beudet (1923) is a real revelation for me. I don't know if there's such a thing as drawing room expressionism, but if there is, this film is at the head of the class. Beautifully photographed by either A. Morrin (credits) or Maurice Forster and Paul Parguel (IMDB), it tells the tale of a woman who is trapped in an apparently loveless marriage, swimming in an ocean of ennui, and fantasizing about tennis champions and killing her husband.

Dulac's film is a thoroughly modern telling of Mme. Beudet's psychic descent and it keeps you guessing about what's going to happen until the very end. There's exceptional editing and mise en scene that convincingly leads us through the story and comes off as light years ahead of its time, often seeming just this side of Caligari.

Seriously, where has this been all these years?

--Peter

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

Unread post by Brooksie » Wed Nov 14, 2018 12:15 am

Myself and another Nitratevillean celebrated Nita Naldi's 124th birthday by attending a screening of Blood and Sand (1922) this evening, starring La Naldi and some guy named Valentino.

Aspiring young toreador Juan (Rudolph Valentino) is torn between his ambitions in the bullfighting ring, his childhood sweetheart (Lila Lee) and uber vamp Doña Sol (Naldi at her most predatory). Who wins? Not the bulls, that's for sure, and the film shows no compunction in calling out the barbarism of the so-called sport. Screenwriter June Mathis, working from Vicente Blasco Ibáñez's novel, draws parallels not only between naive Juan and the bull, but also between Juan and the equally unlucky bandit Plumitas (Walter Long), who quite rightly observes that both of them kill for a living, but only one of them is considered a hero.

This was the latest in a series of silents hosted by Portland's Public Domain Xinema, with an effective live score - jazzy but Spanish-inflected - provided by Sonochromatic.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Nov 14, 2018 5:47 pm

You Never Know Women (1926): Maybe not, but you know as soon as he shows up that Lowell Sherman is a suave rotter. It was his signature role in the movies, and had been since he played the City Slicker in Griffith's Way Down East. When a worker saves Florence Vidor from being crushed by a falling girder and she faints in his arms, Sherman steps from a saloon car and pushes him aside. He takes on the heroic role himself as an entree into Florence's world of of a touring Russian vaudeville troupe and, he hopes, her.

There are complications to his quest: the loyalty of the closed world of the troupe, and the doglike love of Clive Brook, the troupe's magician. Of course, she loves him -- like a brother -- and is fascinated by the debonair Sherman.

It's a movie about illusion and the revelation of the realities behind them. Brooks throws knives at Miss Vidor, without endangering her; he turns her into a butterfly floating through the theater; he makes her vanish from one spot and appear in another; he escapes from water traps.... until he doesn't, and reality is revealed.

William Wellman was coming off a string of unsuccessful movies, and other people who talk and write about his films think this one about a small world and intruders is the first stirring of his auctorial voice. I think he was assigned a project and discovered he liked its themes. He would return to it again and again, a theatrical world that outsiders just don't understand, in movies like A Star is Born, Lady of Burlesque and Buffalo Bill: tough, bitter and mocking tales about how people protect their own.

He certainly shows us the community. The shots of the troupe in performance are close-ups or shot from the wings. The clear implication is that outsiders don't see what's going on. It's stage illusion (or perhaps movie illusion), and unless you're part of the troupe, you never see the reality.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Thu Nov 15, 2018 5:53 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by FrankFay » Wed Nov 14, 2018 10:15 pm

Sherman's character redeems himself at the end in THE GARDEN OF EDEN- a rare instance.
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Re: What's The Last Silent Movie You Watched? [2018]

Unread post by boblipton » Thu Nov 15, 2018 7:44 pm

Some online silent shorts I have seen recently include:

Indian Review: Grand March Past (1902): There aren't many details offered for this very short Hepworth picture -- the copy I saw timed in at 20 seconds. The camerawork is ascribed to Cecil Hepworth, and it is certainly possible, even though he had other people working for him at the time. Neither is the event or the exact release date given, but I think it likely it was shot during the celebration of the coronation of King Edward VII.

The composition and pacing of the piece is very goo. It was apparently shot from a ladder or perhaps a window in a building, situated so the crowds frame the marching troops, leaving their shoulders, heads and bayoneted rifles in full view. I'm sure the accompanist played "Rule Britannia" or "God Save the King" while this rolled through the projector.

Barsoum Looking for a Job (1923): It's a comedy, of sorts, as Bishara Wakim wanders the streets of Cairo, looking for enough food to keep body and soul together, and a job that will pay for that luxury.

The titles are in Arabic and French, and there is undoubtedly a lot of context I am missing. A picture of Saad Zaghloul, is shown a couple of times, beneath it a slogan of his revolutionary Wafd party "Hunger Kills." Zaghloul was a Europeanized Egyptian who attempted reform as a member of the bureaucracy. He was a member of a delegation at Versailles demanding Egyptian freedom from the British, and a leader in the countrywide revolt in 1919. He was exiled, but returned to briefly lead the country in 1924, resigned, then returned in 1926 until his death the following year.

Given those facts, this is a comedy that doesn't seem funny to me. Wakim is too desperate, his plight too real. However, I have a full belly.

Marceline, the World-Renowned Clown of the New York Hippodrome(1907): The white-faced clown tips his hat in what is essentially a 5-second film.

Marceline Orbes was born in Jaca in Spain in 1873. By the end of the 19th Century, he was a world-famous clown, appearing at the London Hippodrome. In 1905 he became a star of the New York Hippodrome. By 1915, his act was falling out of favor. He ceased to be a regular player at the theater he had graced for a decade. Attempts to go into real estate or the restaurant trade failed. In 1927, he shot himself.

Along the way, he appeared in one short film, Thanhouser's The Mishaps of Marceline (1915).

The copy I looked at was derived from the Library of Congress' Paper Print Collection. Some time in the 1960s, a film copy was made at the request of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences. Some elderly clown enthusiast, I suppose.

Are We Down Hearted? (1911): There were several attempts to make sound films before the ultimate success in the 1920s, led by the Warner Brothers' Vitaphone process and Fox's Movietone put the merger on the cinematic map. Even before his company had turned out a single releasable movie, Edison spoke about the matter. There's an Edison movie from the middle of the 1890s showing two men dancing next to a gramophone that was the result. From 1906 through at least 1910, producers in France and Germany turned out short musical novelties that were played in a few dedicated theaters. In 1913, Edison premiered the baroquely named Kinetophone, with about a dozen shorts,. This movie is the English effort, or at least one of them.

In December 1910, Charles Bignell's recording of the title song was released, and the following year, Hepworth released this movie, showing a comic scene in a courtroom, action timed to match the recording. It's a pleasant novelty effort, and doubtless the movie was shown with either a live singer and band performing, or perhaps the record was played.

It didn't take, but it shows the lively technical interest in talking pictures was continuous for almost a decade, a dozen years before other technical issues, like a sound system good enough to exhibit the efforts became available.

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

Unread post by Roscoe » Thu Nov 15, 2018 8:51 pm

FANCHON THE CRICKET in the new Flicker Alley release. A sweet little film by any standard, with Pickford at the top of her game, it seems. Lovely location cinematography. Ms. Pickford starts out with a giddy girlishness that gets rather annoying after a while, but she does eventually settle down as the film progresses. It's easy to poke holes in the storytelling (a year passes at one point and there's just no indication of it at all until a certain character says, "A year has passed") but it's not worth the trouble. Kick back and enjoy -- but a warning----

The score, alas, is pretty bad. As bad as that awful score by AIR for the Melies TRIP TO THE MOON. I turned the volume down and put on some generic classical music, which worked well enough, certainly better than the electro-glop on that Blu-Ray.

The folks at Flicker Alley make an error, though. The running time for the film is listed on the back of the case, and on their website, as being 115 minutes. I was occasionally checking the running time on my Blu-Ray player, thinking that there just couldn't be another hour to go in this story -- and it became clear at the very end, when the clock on my player indicated 1:15 minutes, meaning one hour and fifteen minutes, rather than 115 minutes. Someone at Flicker Alley misread something.
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