Silent Take: The Princess Bride circa 1928

It’s baaack! Another modern movie re-imagined as a silent. This time, it’s The Princess Bride and it is taking a little trip back to 1928. If you have only seen Mary Astor and William Powell in the talkies, you may be interested to know that in the silents, she was often the dainty princess and he was often a sneering villain. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. did not try his hand at swashbuckling until 1937’s Prisoner of Zenda (Astor was in that one too) but I crave your indulgence because I think he is a perfect Westley.

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Seriously, if anyone did this to me, I would slug them, Animated GIF

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Cecil B. DeMille was known to use… odd romantic gestures in his films. In this case, Elinor Fair is groovin’ to some boatman music supplied by William Boyd and her fiance, Victor Varconi, is jealous. So what does he do? Make his hands into earmuffs, of course. And she is fine with it. In fact, she thinks it’s pretty wonderful.

The Volga Boatman is stuffed with moments like this, which is why I love it so.

Recommended

Tol’able David meets… The TINGLER!!! Special William Castle Animated GIF

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To honor the start of the William Castle Blogathon, I made this GIF from The Tingler. The titular nasty is loose in a silent movie theater that just happens to be playing Tol’able David, one of my favorite movies. This is the iconic scene in which the Tingler crawls in front of the projector. Brrr! Scary puppet!

You can read the roster of entries here and here. And be sure to look for mine on August 2. And you can read my review of Tol’able David here. The Tingler does overcrank it so that everything is a bit manic looking.

Recommended

A bouquet of guns, Animated GIF

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About 73% of the fun in The Volga Boatman comes from the overblown intertitles. In this case, William Boyd (yes, that William Boyd) is leading a Bolshevik uprising (this was back when a Hollywood hero could lead a Bolshevik uprising) and he is calling on his followers to storm the castle. (Have fun with that!)

Recommended

“Always dust her well” Animated GIF

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It’s early Lubitsch but his touch is there, right down to the clever intertitles. After all, this is what every father says when he is sending off his only child, right?

Background: In The Doll, dollmaker Hilarius has just inadvertently sold his daughter to a customer. She was taking the place of a broken model for a demonstration but Hermann Thimig was so pleased that he bought the mechanical woman on the spot. Obviously, chaos ensues.

Availability

Released both digitally and on DVD by Kino-Lorber and available for purchase in the U.S.

Conrad Veidt demonstrates the only proper way to walk down a dark alley in “Caligari” – Animated GIF

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This is just how it is done. No ifs, ands or buts about it.

Caligari co-star Lil Dagover later said that Conrad Veidt did not break character during the shoot and lurked through the hallways of the studio startling people. He said he did it for a better performance. but you can’t tell me he wasn’t having just a bit of fun playing the ghoul and scaring his friends.

Recommended

La la la LA LA LAAAAAAA!!! Animated GIF

Lupino Lane is at it again! This time, he is a less-than talented operatic soprano. The zoom effect just cracks me up. This is yet another persona he adopted for the comedy short Only Me.

Lane made a successful talkie transition but his stage work is supposed to be his best. A pity we cannot see it now but this will do nicely.

(He’s a cousin of Ida Lupino, by the way.)

Bloggers take note: Do not insult potential romantic partners online! Animated GIF

Bebe Daniels is the hypochondriac heiress of Feel My Pulse. Her uncle advised her to have adventure and romance. She ended up battling rum runners (led by William Powell!) and single-handedly saving the life of dishy undercover reporter Richard Arlen. But she also read his column and, well, he kind of dissed her in it. Said she was pretty but dumb. So she is not overly inclined to consider him the Romance of her adventure.

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Hey Superman, Batman, Zorro, THIS is why we don’t wear capes! Animated GIF

The cape is out of favor for everyday wear with just about everyone except those select few who wear masks or spandex as part of their day job (or who are trying to throw a pesky ring into an active volcano). The Incredibles showed us how capes can be dangerous. Lupino Lane shows us how capes can just be silly.

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It takes more muscles to frown… The Bells Animated GIF

You know when you are going along minding your own business, thinking of cake or butterflies or something, and someone tells you this: It takes more muscles to frown than to smile. This annoys me. I’m sorry but I don’t like my emotions and facial expressions dictated by strangers. And, secondly, I was not frowning. Just thinking about cake or butterflies or something.

I think I will adopt Boris Karloff’s approach. This is from The Bells, in which he plays a combination mesmerist-private detective. Small part but marvelously creepy.

Read my review here.

Availability: Released on DVD.