Pola Negri is a the Countess. She got dumped right after getting a tattoo of the guy’s family crest. Off she goes to the Midwest to forget. Scandal! Makeup? Tattoos? Smoking? Next thing you know, women will want jobs too!
The Courtship of Myles Standish (1923)
Status: Missing and presumed lost
When can you tell if the guy you are fighting is really Zorro? Well, maybe when he carves a “Z” into your forehead. Just a thought.
Continue reading “ZORRO! Animated GIF”
The opening line is so famous that author Rafael Sabatini has it written on his tombstone:
“He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.”
Danton cannot help giving Ramon Novarro a few fighting tips. The aristocrats are out the kill the revolutionaries in duels. What they don’t know is that Novarro has been working as a swordmaster for the past year.
The Midnight Sun (1926)
Status: Complete 35mm print (end titles missing) in the UCLA film and television archive.
Cecil B. DeMille directs a movie about the Russian Revolution. It’s everything you could possibly hope for. That could be my entire review.
Last time, I shared the biographical collection Ladies in Distress, now I will do the same for its follow-up, Gentlemen to the Rescue. This collection contains select biographies of silent era leading men.
I tend to be a bit wordy in my movie reviews but I know that you are all busy people. So I have started writing Fun Size Reviews. I will re-review every film in 100 words or less. I am starting with my very first review, The Sheik. I will provide one picture and tell you what dessert this film is like.
I will still be writing long reviews but think of the Fun Size Reviews as their little sisters. A Dorothy to the Lillians.
Gentlemen in starched collars insulting each other. What would we ever do without them? Milton Sills is not going to take this snotty talk lying down!
Anne of Green Gables (1919)
Status: Missing and presumed lost
Zorro. The character is almost 100 years old and yet he needs no introduction. California’s very own masked superhero. Righter of wrongs and fan of the basic black ensemble. Zorro’s clothing and trademarks can be described even by people who have never read a Zorro book, seen a Zorro film or watched a Zorro television show.
The tables are turned and Milton Sills (who is rocking those chandelier earrings) needs to decide what to do with Wallace Beery. Hang him or let him join the crew?
Sir Oliver Tressilian (Milton Sills) is a retired Elizabethan privateer whose life suddenly gets shot to pieces. He is framed for murder by his own brother, dumped by his fiancee, kidnapped, sold into slavery… What I’m saying is this guy has a chip on his shoulder. So he joins up with the Barbary corsairs and becomes the dreaded Sea Hawk. Now for that revenge…
Continue reading “The Sea Hawk (1924) A Silent Film Review”
Wallace Beery stole quite a few scenes in The Sea Hawk. Here he is, trying to charm the hero (whom he has kidnapped and kept locked in his ship’s hold) into forming a profitable (for him) alliance. Vowing by the ten holy toe bones always helps matters, I think.
It is commonly said that the phrase “silent movie” is a misnomer. To be properly appreciated, a silent movie needs appropriate musical accompaniment. But what is considered to be an “appropriate” type of music? No two silent film fans are going to quite agree on that but here are some basic guidelines.
Status: Missing and presumed lost except for the fragments found in the film’s trailer.
This is the very first film adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, filmed a mere four years after it was written. No need to make this a costume picture. The twenties were roaring away as the cameras cranked.
1926 was a banner year for silent film and The Great Gatsby, while praised, seems to have been a bit lost in the shuffle of Beau Geste, Old Ironside, What Price Glory, Night of Love, Flesh and the Devil…
Here are some vintage reviews:
Photoplay particularly praised Lois Wilson as Daisy Buchanan.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel of the great war’s aftermath presented unusual film difficulties. Herbert Brenon, the director, has managed to retain much of the feeling of the story. Gatsby comes out of the war to achieve a fortune unscrupulously. He falls, of course, in the end, finding that happiness can’t be won that way. Lois Wilson runs away with the film as the jazzy Daisy Buchanan who flashes cocktails and silken you-know-she-wears-’ems.
The distributor magazine Motion Picture News had this to say:
Every good job has been done by this picture — an adaptation of the novel and play. It offered material which necessitated the intelligent handling of characterization so as to keep its spirit intact. In other winds, it depended upon the director emphasizing the central figure as he was emphasized in the novel and play to approach a “nearly perfect gentleman.” This Herbert Brenon has done and so well has Warner Baxter responded that his performance is quite the best of his career and one of the best of the season.
A tragic figure is Gatsby, a product of the gutter who comes up in the world and tries to assume the culture which only goes with long-established generations of ancestry. The manner in which Brenon works is in showing the mute pride and helplessness of the man in attempting to “belong.” Of course, Baxter has his work cut out for him, too.
It’s a sophisticated story, told with first-rate lights and shadows. The spirit of the original is there with plenty to spare. It has its dramatic moments, its romantic scenes, its contrasts and conflicts. And it is splendidly acted by every member of the cast, including Lois Wilson, Neil Hamilton, William Powell, Hale Hamilton, and Georgia Hale.
You read that cast right. William Powell, Lois Wilson, Georgia Hale…
The New York Times felt that something was missing from the final product:
The screen version of “The Great Gatsby” is quite a good entertainment, but at the same time it is obvious that it would have benefited by more imaginative direction. Although Mr. Brenon has included the tragic note at the end, he has succumbed to a number of ordinary movie flashes without inculcating much in the way of subtlety. Neither he nor the players have succeeded in fully developing the characters.
Zelda Fitzgerald was even less happy with the film (she and her husband walked out):
“We saw ‘The Great Gatsby’ in the movies. It’s ROTTEN and awful and terrible and we left.”
Unfortunately, we will never be able to judge for ourselves. The Great Gatsby is one of the more sought-after lost films of the silent era. It is a shame that it is gone since it would have provided a unique perspective on the novel, as played by the men and women who made up that Lost Generation.
Rudolph Valentino (1895-1926)
Country of birth: Italy
Birth name: Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguolla
While there will always be a demand for biographies of the brightest stars of the silent era (e.g. Rudolph Valentino, Greta Garbo, Lillian Gish) their less-remembered contemporaries do not get much respect on the printed page.
That naughty Zorro!
Here is what happened in the first quarter of 2013:
Top Reviews: You love Valentino and Veidt!
Top Articles: You like to read about silent movie myths!
- Silent Movie Myth #3: The Firsts
- Silent Movie Myth #1: Silent stars had funny voices
- Silent Movie Myth #4: Tied to the Railroad Tracks
- Silent Movie Myth #2: Silent Movies are just Sound Movies with a few intertitles
- Silent Movie Time Capsule: Who were the top movie stars of 1913?
Reviews that need a little love:
The bottom 5 reviews. Three out of five are nautical tales. Are you trying to tell me something?
It has Bessie Love and Hobart Bosworth! That can’t be bad!
Baby Peggy stars with the afore-mentioned Mr. Bosworth. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll say “awwwww!”
Lois Wilson and the always-splendid Milton Sills star in this one. It is one of the sweetest romances in silent film.
Leatrice Joy and William Boyd star in this ship-bound gender bender. Wacky fun!
Mary Pickford and William Haines lead this tenement-based romantic dramedy.
Top Geographic Locations:
There are the countries that visited this site the most. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy seeing the huge variety of nation icons in my website stats.
- United States
- United Kingdom
And the runners-up are Spain, Germany and Italy.
At present, I have not posted enough biographies to start counting the most popular ones. I will be including that statistic in next quarter’s report.
Thanks for coming along on the guilt trip, hee heeeee. And a huge “thank you” to everyone who has visited, tweeted and sent messages.
Let’s review another vintage swashbuckler that was turned into a silent motion picture.
Rudolf (Lewis Stone) is an Englishman on holiday in the unstable European kingdom of Ruritania. It turns out that he is a dead ringer for the soon-to-be-crowned king (also Lewis Stone). This comes in handy when the king is kidnapped by his evil brother and Rudolf must take his place to save the kingdom. A young Ramon Novarro has a star-making turn as the theatrical (and homicidal) Rupert of Hentzau.
Welcome to the theme for April 2013 here at Movies Silently. It’s time to celebrate the gallant Silent Swashbucklers.
Douglas Fairbanks plays Zorro as a trickster who is not above playing a joke or two on the boisterous Sgt. Gonzalez (Noah Beery). In this case, Zorro takes the opportunity to slice Gonzalez in the pants — but it’s the hapless henchman who gets the blame!
Marguerite De La Motte is not pleased with Douglas Fairbanks and his wooing. In all fairness, pretty girls do not expect suitors to put on puppet shows for them.
Lillian Gish (1893-1993)
Country of birth: USA
Men of Steel (1926)
Sorry, this is not a Superman movie. However, it just may be even better.
Milton Sills (1882-1930)
Country of birth: USA