Help Wanted: You Choose My Reviews

Every year, I like to hold a month of reader requested film reviews. I always have a blast expanding my horizons and taking on movies that I might have never covered on my own.

I generally hold these events in March or April but decided to move up to January 2018 this time around. Six months will give me plenty of time to track down obscure or foreign fare, if necessary, and get a head start on research.

Here’s what you do:

First, leave a comment listing the film or films you would like me to cover. Famous or forgotten, Hollywood or foreign, silent era or modern, as long as it’s a silent film, I will give it serious consideration. Feel free to second someone else’s requests too.

Second… there is no second! That’s it! Thank you so much for your contribution! The comments are open for 90 days and at the end of them, I will make my selections (usually 4-5 films) from the contributions.

Even if I do not select one of your requests, I read these comments carefully and pay attention to trends. It sounds like marketing speak but your feedback is very important and I take this seriously. Generally speaking I try to create a selection that balances multiple decades, genres and levels of fame.

Here is my alphabetical index of movie reviews, if you want to see if your film or films of choice have already been reviewed. And here are links to my past Reader Request months, if you want to see the sort of things I have chosen in the past:

2013

2015

2016

2017

Thanks again, I look forward to reading your requests!

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86 Replies to “Help Wanted: You Choose My Reviews”

  1. My request will be Stage Struck with Gloria Swanson. I absolutely loved her performance in that, and I’d like to hear your thoughts on it.

  2. I have four, I know you can’t do them all but just throwing them out there:
    “Going Straight” (1916) with Norma Talmadge
    “The Ace of Hearts” (1921) with Lon Chaney and Leatrice Joy
    “Wild Oranges” (1924) with Virginia Valli
    “Isn’t Life Wonderful” (1924) with Carol Dempster and Neil Hamilton

  3. I am a big fan of your blog and would love to see you review True heart Susie (1919) and/or He who gets slapped (1924)

  4. Humbly requesting a review of He Did and He Didn’t. Also, since we’ve been on a von Stroheim kick around here recently, Blind Husbands and/or Foolish Wives (the latter featuring an ultra-smarmy Von, many superb supporting performances including that of Mae Busch, and the infamous pigeon shooting contest- no clay involved).

      1. Actually I don’t know. I was directed to a few minutes of it on YouTube by a friend who knows of my obsession with both Schiller and Verdi’s Don Carlos…

  5. Howzabout a Wallace Reid double-feature:

    THE ROARING ROAD (1919)
    EXCUSE MY DUST (1920)

    They’re under an hour each, and I seem to recall you mentioning a while back that you had the Unknown Video DVD, and that you had yet to watch them, so… πŸ™‚

    Thank you for your consideration!

  6. Probably a bridge too far for your criteria, as I understand them:
    Bill Morrison’s “Decasia” or his two riffs on Young’s “The Bells.”

    Perhaps more art museum than cinema. But the latter did send me off chasing a copy of the original.

    1. No problem! Modern silents & riffs on silents are perfectly fine. As long as there is SOME silent connection (and believe me, I have stretched it) then it’s cool.

  7. Thanks for the opportunity, Fritzi. I’d love to know what you think about Haxan, the Phantom Carriage or the Adventures of Mr West in the land of the Bolsheviks.

  8. Why Be Good? from 1929 (I’ve been on a huge Colleen Moore kick lately)
    Broken Hearts of Broadway 1923 (see above)
    Traffic In Souls 1913 (I just don’t wanna be the only person that’s seen this one)
    Greed 1924 (I need someone to either encourage or discourage me to spend four hours of my life watching it)

      1. i appreciated greed more after i read mcteague…i hate how pretentious and cliche that sounded πŸ™ but i meant it

  9. Hi,
    I would like to see a review of the russian film ‘The Last Attraction’ please? I watched it recently and thought it was great.

  10. Mention above of the “four hour” Greed made me think of something I saw the other day on your Twitter feed. It was a tweet someone made in response to your observation that still photos don’t (and can’t) capture the feeling of the silent film or the silent film actor (at least I think that’s what you were getting at). That person used the “restored” London at Midnight as a sort of jab at you.

    That twitter exchange made me think of the 1999 “restored version” of Stroheim’s Greed/McTeague, with all of its stills to flesh out the excised footage,
    which in turn got me to wondering what you thought of it, if you’ve seen it (and if I recall correctly, you don’t receive TCM, so maybe you haven’t).

    I figure that if you are “meh” about Greed, you might be “less than meh” about the four hour “version”. I happen to love the supposedly “mutilated” (please forgive me all the “quotation marks,” but I’m in that kind of mood), MGM release.
    But I am rather “meh” (as opposed to being “very meh?”) about the four hour version.

    Having actually watched it maybe three times (at least 12 hours out of my life!), I’ve concluded that as a movie, the “restored” Greed makes a great book. Actually, two of them — the 1972 “The Complete Greed” by Herman Weinberg, a monument to Stroheim’s original concept, and of course the original Frank Norris 1899 classic of American Realism, “McTeague.”

      1. PS Before anyone gets angry, I’m sure I will watch the 4 hour version before World War III (which, according to Star Trek, should be in 2026 but then the Eugenics Wars didn’t pan out so…)

    1. The funny thing about that particular exchange is that the example proved my point. If a print of LAM did show up, would a single person say, “No, thanks, I have the restoration made of stills. I’m good.” Of course not! While I appreciate the effort and respect the people who put them together, these are still slideshows designed to give us the ghost of an idea of the original.

      I borrowed a copy of the VHS version released by MGM, which I believe is the “mutilated” version but, to be honest, I am not sure how much of a difference the restoration will make in my overall affection for the picture. I find Stroheim to be a bit of a chore to watch (The Merry Widow– made under strict studio and star supervision– is probably my favorite thing he made, if that tells you anything) and actually feel that Thalberg was right to give him the ax. Like so many profligate directors, von Stroheim benefited from a choke chain.

      I try him out again every once in a while but have never quite caught the bug. The issue I run into when discussing Stroheim (and, for that matter, his Merry Widow leading man John Gilbert) is that some of his fans are more about the tale of woe than the actual films. I want to emphasize that I do not mean ALL Stroheim or Gilbert fans are like this but enough to make me notice. When talking about any picture from their favorite, it is declared to be wonderful (no specifics given) and then we are treated to a long jeremiad on the abuse they suffered at the hands of MGM. It’s all very tedious and it’s like herding cats to get them back to talking about the actual film, which is what I thought everyone came for. (And, obviously, Gilbert and Stroheim have plenty of fans who legit love their movies and good for them. I certainly would never stand in the way of anyone’s silent film enjoyment.)

      The 4-hour cut vs. the “mutilated” cut: I’m reminded of the number of people who prefer the American cut of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly over the longer Italian cut. They point out that the American cut is tighter, snappier and more enjoyable. They have a point. Further, I am most interested in how silent era audiences saw films and, obviously, the shorter cut is what they would have seen. (Of course, fans of Erich von Stroheim will see things very differently and want to see his creative vision, which is understandable.)

      1. I enjoy Stroheim in the same way I enjoy David Lynch (yes, I just watched ep 8 of Twin Peaks, the Return). It’s bleak and depressing, but in a fun way. Certainly not for everyday consumption, but rather for when you’re in the mood.

        When I first saw Greed and learned the story of its making, I was still a teenager, and captivated by stories of struggling artists trying to make art without compromising their integrity. But now to me the “tale of woe” told by Stroheim — one he told with all of his films after Blind Husbands — seems disingenuous. He could have chosen the path taken by Carl Theodore Dreyer, who worked independently for most of his career, getting funding for each of his films by tapping available resources for the arts from various European governments. That may be why Dreyer only direct a handful of films over five decades, but he never had to complain about studio bosses compromising his art.

      2. Exactly this! Stroheim could have pounded the pavement to get funding, Gilbert was actually wealthy enough to fund his own films and all the stars complaining that D.W. Griffith was not hired by studios failed to take up a collection for his next film’s budget.

        While the studios certainly pulled nasty tricks on directors and stars, Stroheim’s problem is that he could never pick his battles. Every hill was worth dying on and every budget was made to be exceeded. I remember in the Hollywood miniseries Karl Brown spoke admiringly of Stroheim luring in studios with beautiful films and then draining them dry. I found it odd, to say the least. And they were supposed to hire him again why?

  11. Re: von Stroheim, I must admit zero desire to ever see Greed in any form, long, shortened, or pastiched together. Simply can’t develop any real interest in it. Is there truth in the story that Von’s original shooting script was 300+ pages long? If so, what optimistic souls gave continual green lights during the shooting of a script that length, I wonder. Von Stroheim seemed impossible (even in the writing stage) to rein in, save with a pink slip.

    After our current household interest in Blind Husbands and Foolish Wives wore off a bit, I realized that von Stroheim’s acting in silents is of far more interest to me than his directing. Am I shallow to pass over even that in favor of Mae Busch and Maude George plus the gorgeous sets in Foolish Wives? Could it be I’m missing nuances in the film’s plot…? I did find Gibson Gowland giving quite an interesting performance as the mountain guide in Blind Husbands, and again great sets and a beautiful mountain setting. Shallow, shallow me πŸ˜‰

    What was the fascination with von Stroheim during the ’20s based in anyway? Was it simply a PR gambit revolving around plugging him as “The Man You Love To Hate?”

    1. I don’t know the exact page count of the script but I would believe it was over 300 pages as Stroheim planned to film every darn semicolon. I believe our intrepid director’s greatest talent was getting studios to sign on the dotted line in the first place!

      I agree that I prefer von Stroheim the actor to von Stroheim the director. I found his swashbuckling takeover of Heart of Humanity to be droll but many of his films, frankly, are a hatmaker’s son’s idea of nobility. It’s been a while since I read them but Billy Wilder’s little anecdotes about von Stroheim are illuminating. Because the equally Austrian Wilder would detect that his accent was decidedly un-aristocratic, Stroheim suddenly forgot all his German. Erich reminds me very much of Theodore Kosloff, the Russian ballerina who upgraded his resume considerably when working for Cecil B. DeMille.

      Nothing wrong with shallow. πŸ˜‰ (And nothing wrong with liking Erich von Stroheim, director, for that matter. To each their own.) His films are indeed gorgeous and he had a great nose for talent. As to style, there is a quality of a little boy playing dress-up and learning curse words in order to shock his mommy. I will grant that the man had an eye and a skill for building buzz but sometimes mommy is just tired and wants to have some quiet time.

    2. The fascination was based largely on an image created by studio promotion, ironically. “The Man You Love to Hate” meme was outdated by the ’20s (people wanted to forget the war asap after 1918). But his first two films as director did great box office, and Foolish Wives was even promoted during its shooting with a huge sign advertising how much was being spent on the production — with (if I recall correctly!) daily updates. (Sort of “live by the sword, die by the sword!”)

      Stroheim was a great example of the self-made, or rather, self-invented, man. Middle class son of a hatmaker, too physically weak to make it as a soldier in the Austrian army, learned to ride a horse in a very brief stint with the NYPD in 1909, etc. But sold himself as an expert horseman and military advisor in order to gain entrance to movies first as an extra, then a character player, then art director, featured player, then genius director.

  12. and he had tremendous powers of persuasion, apparently a great deal of personal charisma or magnetism, whatever you want to call it. He convinced some pretty influential figures in film circa 1915-16, Norma Talmadge, Douglas Fairbanks, and director John Emerson, that he was “the real deal.” Carl Laemmle bought it in 1918,allowed him his first opportunity to direct, and voila! “Blind Husbands.”

    1. In many ways, I think he would have been better off if he had been handed some programmers and had learned the craft in a more budget-conscious environment. But knowing our Erich, I’m not sure he could have hacked it.

      1. I haven’t seen any mention of von Stroheim’s The Wedding March. Just an observation – I’m indifferent to a lot of Stroheim but rather liked that one.

  13. I’d like to hear your take on THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME (1916). Might be a good time too as the Somme100 project is coming to a close. A fantastic undertaking, which I finally caught on Saturday.

  14. Hi Fritzi.
    How about Safe in Hell 1931, similar to Asphalt, which I enjoyed immensely thank you–very Tamara Lempincka.
    Or Mandalay, Lon Chaney
    Danger Girl 1916 Gloria Swanson

  15. How about Little Nemo, 1911, the first cartoon I believe. Amazing drawing by Winsor McCay, makes the later early cartoons look amateurish. Or Plane Crazy 1928. An interesting comparison is Felix the cat Feline Follies 1919, which mixes inter-titles with speech balloons. Alice’s Wild West Show also and the end of Alice’s Wonderland is a nod to Little Nemo in Slumberland. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in Skyscrappers is a real hoot- I think he had fantastically expressive ears! Its a shame Disney lost him. It might have been “It all began with a rabbit…” I think the Mickey and Donald comics of the 30s and 40s owe their gags and style to the silent comedies.

  16. Hi, I love your reviews! Maybe some Chaney, like The Shock (1923)? Or a Valentino film like All Night? I saw someone else mention The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927) and that would be neat, it reminded me of Roman Holiday in a way, but with a prince instead of princess (it wasn’t entirely the same, but something about it seemed similar) and it would be interesting to see what you had to say about it. πŸ™‚

  17. “De Molens die juichen en weenen” (The Mills that Cheer and Weep) (1912)
    Can be watched on the youtube channel of the EYE filmmuseum.

  18. I’d like to see your thoughts on The Flying Scotsman (1929). It’s Ray Milland’s first starring role. The majority is a silent movie, but there are a few talkie scenes starting about halfway through.

  19. I know you don’t care much for von Sterneberg but you really should give The Docks of New York a look. I really love the Soviet silent The New Babylon, and it’s one that not a lot of people talk about. My copy is region 2 and has a new recording of the original score composed for it by a young Dmitri Shostakovich – it can be found here: https://www.moskwood.nl/store/new-babylon-kozintsevtrauberg-p-426.html?zenid=da9f2111fd3bccfd00722d223431ebd1

  20. I also want to put in a word here for a DVD release of a 1929 Soviet Eccentric film called My Grandmother – it employs animation, puppetry, and stop motion along with live action in a satire of Soviet bureaucracy with a lead character modeled after Harold Lloyd, The DVD was scored by Beth Custer of the Clubfoot Orchestra and released on her own custom label; on the disc the Russian title cards remain but rather than having subtitles a narrator recites the English translations. It’s an imaginative presentation keeping fully in the anarchic spirit of the movie and I applaud these kinds of individual efforts when done properly. Link here: http://bethcuster.com/store/my-grandmother-dvd/

  21. The Love of Jeanne Ney(1927), Piccadilly (1929) or Murnau’s City Girl(1930).

    Thank you for this wonderful website!

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