A well-constructed melodrama made during the craze for “social” pictures in the 1910s, Children of Eve has visual flair to spare and a powerful performance from star Viola Dana.
The swashbuckling genre is not noted for its progressive treatment of women. Even ladies who take up arms must either be damseled by the finale or die in order to make way for a more “proper” love interest. That’s why The Fighting Eagle is such a breath of fresh air.
Think gangster films first came along in the early 1930s? Think again! They were present from the very earliest motion picture days and Regeneration is one of the first gangster features. It was directed by some guy named Raoul Walsh.
Possibly the most iconic film of early cinema, this science fiction epic is beautiful, quirky and shows surprising depth.
Theda Bara was not actually the first movie vamp but she remains the most famous. This picture, her first vampire melodrama, is rough around the edges but it does give us a taste of her quirky charisma.
What happens when there’s an entertainment craze sweeping the land and you’re the only one who doesn’t get it? That’s the plot of this charming, slightly mad Soviet comedy.
Marion Davies stars in a solid little crowdpleaser about orphans, bandits, the desert and a whole bunch of wabbits. Davies and her adopted kid brother, Zander, evade the orphanage and set out to find his father in the Arizona desert. They find Harrison Ford (the first one!), a bandit and general no-goodnik who seems to be the man they are looking for.
Mabel Normand is as cute as a button in this little comedy about a country girl who makes it big in the movies. Mabel is betrayed by her lover (Mack Sennett) but he’s in for a shock when he sees her on the silver screen!
A tale of love in ancient Greece, penned by Shakespeare and squashed down to ten minutes by the Vitagraph film company. We get the expected drug-toting fairies, forbidden love and dudes with donkey heads.
Carole Lombard joins the Sennett Bathing Beauties in a beach baseball game but is attacked by aggressive crustaceans. Hey, it’s a living.
There was this train robbery… and it was great!
Seriously, this film is often listed as the first movie with a plot or the first movie, period, neither of which isn’t true at all. The Great Train Robbery‘s real claim to fame is as one of the first American blockbusters.
Charley Chase is charming as heck in this cute little comedy about a husband and wife who secretly get plastic surgery and then attempt to have an affair– with one another!
Scandal! The heir to a fortune has married a bareback circus rider (Norma Talmadge) and his family is just having kittens about it! Doesn’t he realize that his bride has (whisper) worn tights?
Grand fun to be had with this violent French western. Yes, French. It’s basically a Coyote-Roadrunner cartoon with real bullets.
Mae Murray stars as the devil of the title, a nice Irish girl who pretends to be bad to land a job on the stage. Rudolph Valentino (under two tons of pale greasepaint) is her nice Irish boy love interest. Oh brother.
I know what you’re thinking but this film involves absolutely no body parts hidden in luggage. Sorry.
Tarzan’s very first film appearance, this movie stars Elmo Lincoln, silent movie strongman and THE Tarzan to movie audiences until Johnny Weissmuller showed up.
Arrrr, mateys! Piratical goings-on meet the Jazz Age in this perfectly deranged comedy. Rod La Rocque is the descendant of a famed pirate who must marry or lose his inheritance. Mildred Harris is an heiress who has the only copy of a will written on her back. Snitz Edwards is in pursuit armed with a sponge. Told you it was nuts.
An aggressively unfunny “comedy” with just two claims to fame: it features a very young Joan Crawford (with her own eyebrows!) and it is the picture that got William Wellman fired from MGM. Frankly, I don’t blame them one bit.
A cute concept that collapses under the weight of too many characters (21 in the opening credits!), too many plot threads and too many false climaxes. Marion Davies is utterly charming as an Irish girl who poses as her own brother to claim an inheritance but she is crushed under the leaden story and unimaginative direction. Also, steamships. Go head. Ask me anything about steamships.
Yes indeed! A 2015 animated silent movie with synchronized score and sound effects. It didn’t make much impact in the USA when it was released but you really should check it out if you like silent comedy and/or great animation. (The characters’ movements were based on Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati.)
An ending in search of a story, The Last Command is gorgeous to look at but hasn’t a brain in its pretty head. William Powell and Emil Jannings try their darndest but the film simply isn’t as smart or as deep as it thinks it is.
What a delight! Everything I love about French silent cinema (the style, the wit, the visuals) combined into one delightfully deranged package. We have attempted murder by poison, firearm and drowning, madness and the clever use of technology to track down the perpetrator.
What happens after Happily Ever After? Cecil B. DeMille, master of the modern fairy tale, attempts to answer the question in a story of two couple cross class and economic lines in the name of true love.
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Richard Barthelmess plays a shattered WWI veteran who tries to bury himself in the country. He finds unexpected love when a marriage of convenience turns into a love match, thanks to that enchanted cottage of the title.
One of the icons of silent comedy in one of his most iconic films. Yes, I am referring to Charlie Chaplin in The Gold Rush, aka The One with the Edible Shoe and the Roll Dance.
Poland’s biggest silent film star in one of her rare Polish films! Pola Negri plays a young woman who runs away from home and finds more trouble than she bargained for in the big city.
Jealousy, madness, murder, trapeze acts. Welcome to E.A. Dupont’s stylish melodrama, famous for unchaining its camera and allowing the audience to leap and spin with the acrobats.
Director Boris Barnet could and did make heaver fare but few of his pictures are as charming as this one. Plus, we get to see the much-maligned Anna Sten showing us what she could really do when people weren’t trying to turn her into Marlene Garbo 2.0.
The good news: Richard Dix wins a flashy car in a raffle. The bad news: Richard Dix wins a flashy car in a raffle. The car in question, you see, seems to have a jinx and Dix needs to win a race with it. Oh dear.