A real rarity for Chaney fans: Our beloved monster plays a straightforward leading man. Lon Chaney and Betty Blythe are a pair of Canadian lovebirds who must flee when he is framed for murder. Lewis Stone plays the Mountie charged with bringing Chaney to justice. And he won’t give up because as the Hollywood Mounties say: “We always get our man!”
Priscilla Dean stars as Mary, aka the Gutter Rose. Pickpocket, purse snatcher and general shady lady, Mary’s world changes when she encounters a real gentleman for the first time. This does not sit well with her partner in crime and would-be lover, Stoop (Lon Chaney). This film is the very first collaboration between Chaney and director Tod Browning.
The surprisingly sympathetic tale of a Navajo man, Wing Foot (Richard Dix), who was taken from his family as a boy and raised in a boarding school. Insulted and referred to as “Redskin” by his college peers, Wing Foot also finds that he no longer fits in with his family, especially his extremely traditional father. Will Wing Foot be able to bridge the gap between the culture of his birth and the culture in which he was raised?
Continue reading “Redskin (1929) A Silent Film Review”
One of the earliest blockbusters, this film is a legend in the history of cinema. But how does it hold up (no pun intended) for the modern viewer? The story involves the execution of a daring train robbery and the subsequent posse pursuit. Exciting stuff or a creaky relic?
A struggling director has a brilliant idea for a comeback picture: he will make a silent movie! And to ensure that his film will be a hit, he plans to cast the biggest stars in Hollywood. However, an evil corporation wants to take over his studio and intends to stop his movie before he can even start it. Mel Brooks provides his signature everything-but-the-kitchen-sink humor.
Continue reading “Silent Movie (1976) Review”
Fast-paced offering from Mack Sennett’s famous studio. Silent comic Billy Bevan is a zany mechanic who enters an auto race to defend the honor of his garage. Bevan is supported by Sidney Smith and Any Clyde, two familiar faces to silent comedy fans.
Continue reading “Lizzies of the Field (1924) A Silent Film Review”
Enid Bennett and Ramon Novarro play a pair of young lovers who just want to get married. When they are separated in Paris, each begins a slide toward degradation and depravity. Will the unfortunate pair find one another again or are they too damaged to rekindle their love? Heavy stuff.
Think of this story as Aladdin: Expanded Universe. The tale concerns all the usual Arabian Nights ingredients: princes, lamps, djinn, snakes, caves, enchanted birds… What makes it significant is the way it is presented: via the dainty silhouette figures created by Lotte Reiniger.
The Wizard of Oz. A wonderful tale for children. It has everything a parent could wish for. Animal cruelty. Vomit. Sexual harassment. Racial stereotypes. What’s that? You think Oz shouldn’t have any of those things? Well, don’t tell Larry Semon, writer-director-producer-star of this version.
Clara Bow is a Parisian Apache whose boyfriend is taken away by a do-gooder. Determined to show the goody-two-shoes a lesson, she decides to marry him. Yes, that is the plot they decided to go with. Bow’s frequent co-star, Donald Keith, is the purloined boyfriend.
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in one of his breakout hits– directed by none other than Frank Capra! Doug plays a cub reporter who is desperate for a scoop. He gets it when he manages to implicate a young lady (Jobyna Ralston) in a scandalous murder. Seeing the damage he has done to innocent Jobyna, Doug sets out to catch the real killer.
Gloria Swanson sheds her glamorous image to play Tessie, a shop girl in the big city who just wants to have a little bit of fun. Her workaholic boyfriend (Tom Moore) is neglecting her in favor of an invention that could make his fortune so Tessie accepts an invitation from the smart set. However, she soon learns that all of the thrills and glamour come at a price.
A rare surviving Florence Lawrence film concerns a country doctor and his family. When both his daughter and an impoverished neighbor fall ill at the same time, which one will he save? Lawrence is the doctor’s wife. All the melodrama you can stuff into 14 minutes!
Two sisters, an empty house, a dishonest maid and a fortune in the safe. A recipe for a melodrama if I ever saw one! D.W. Griffith directs the Gish sisters in their motion picture debut, with able support from Bobby Harron, Elmer Booth, Harry Carey and a very early appearance from Antonio Moreno!
Continue reading “An Unseen Enemy (1912) A Silent Film Review”
An extremely rare film with Dorothy Gish in the starring role. She is Gretchen, a newly transplanted Dutch maiden who finds romance, adventure and danger in her new home, New York. When she stumbles onto a counterfeiting ring, Gretchen must find a way to save herself and her father from the ruthless criminals.
Bebe Daniels stars as a hypochondriac heiress who is threatened with a move to a ranch in Texas. She flees to what she thinks is a convalescent home but finds herself trapped on an island with a gang of rum runners– led by a pre-fame William Powell. Bebe doesn’t realize the danger she is in until it is too late. Will she be able to save herself and her only ally, Richard Arlen?
Continue reading “Feel My Pulse (1928) A Silent Film Review”
Jimmy Valentine (Robert Warwick) belongs to a gang of bank-robbers– his job is to crack safes and he is the best in the business. After a stint in Sing Sing, however, Jimmy sees the error of his ways and decides to live an honest life. However, his old nemesis Doyle (Robert Cummings), a surly detective, has a chance to haul Jimmy in on an old charge. Will Jimmy’s life of honesty go to waste? Or will he be able to bluff his way to freedom?
Mary Pickford is a naive city girl who journeys out to the redwoods to live with her uncle. What she doesn’t know is that her uncle is dead and a bandit (Elliott Dexter) has borrowed his identity as cover for his stagecoach robberies. The pair form an uneasy alliance. Mary has nowhere else to go and Elliott doesn’t dare let her leave since she can blow his cover. That romance in the title? Well, with a city girl and a bandit sharing digs, what do you think will happen?
Continue reading “A Romance of the Redwoods (1917) A Silent Film Review”
Ernst Lubitsch directs this fractured fairy tale concerning a coddled young man who wants to avoid marriage at all costs– and he is willing to purchase an elaborate mechanical doll to pose as his wife. Petite charmer Ossi Oswalda co-stars as both the doll and the live girl it was modeled after. When the doll is accidentally broken, Ossi must take its place at the wedding. I can’t possibly imagine anything going wrong with this scenario.
Continue reading “The Doll (1919) A Silent Film Review”
Comedian Lupino Lane plays every last part in this comedy short. The plot? A tipsy, top-hatted fellow and a really horrible child manage to disrupt an evening at the music hall. The material is old but Lane manages to keep things fun.
Continue reading “Only Me (1929) A Silent Film Review”
Buster Keaton is the dogsbody at a small theater. In the course of a day, he must impersonate a monkey, obtain a set of Zouave guards, avoid mixing up a pair of identical twins (one of whom he is dating) and manage not to get killed by a strongman. Why doesn’t he quit? What, and leave show business?
Vilma Banky takes on the title role of this Western-set tale of settlers, dams, floods and legal shenanigans. Banky is the prettiest girl in Imperial county. Ronald Colman is the corporate raider from the east who falls for her. A very young Gary Cooper is the local boy who hopes to win her heart. So, just who does win Barbara Worth?
Continue reading “The Winning of Barbara Worth (1926) A Silent Film Review”
Charlie Chaplin was already wildly popular when he made this short for Essanay. Adapted from one of his pre-Hollywood comedy acts, this short has Chaplin play two disruptive and rowdy theater-goers: Mr. Pest, a drunken crumb from the upper crust, and Mr. Rowdy, an equally sloshed rough on the balcony. Between the two of them, they manage to disrupt and outshine the performers on the stage.
Continue reading “A Night in the Show (1915) A Silent Film Review”
Marion Davies knocks ’em dead in this witty comedy about showbiz. In a tale that is a combination of Gloria Swanson’s story and Merton of the Movies, Marion plays a newcomer to Hollywood who wants to make her mark in drama. William Haines, a kindly slapstick comedian, takes her under his wing and her career begins to take off but she soon outgrows him. Will her emerging ego destroy her career or will she realize who her real friends are?
Lorna Doone (Madge Bellamy) is a noblewoman who was kidnapped by bandits as a child. John Ridd (John Bowers) is the big-hearted farmer who rescues her. But the Doones are not about to let Lorna go so easily, especially since she is heiress to an enormous fortune. No cookies are forthcoming.
Continue reading “Lorna Doone (1922) A Silent Film Review”
John Barrymore is a sergeant in the Russian army who dreams of winning an officer’s commission. But he hits a snag in the form of Camilla Horn, an imperious princess who seems to stumble him at every turn. Stripped of his rank, John goes a little mad and decides the Bolsheviks kind of have a point. The revolution is on, John is nuts, Camilla smolders and we have some grade-A entertainment.
No Shakespeare for you!
Constance Talmadge is a lovely American heiress who travels to England disguised as a frump in order to ward off fortune-hunting men. Ronald Colman is a penniless aristocrat who falls for Constance and impersonates a physician to get a closer look. Chaos ensues. Of course. It’s a romantic comedy!
Continue reading “Her Night of Romance (1924) A Silent Film Review”
Still in his second year of directing, D.W. Griffith delves into the American Revolution in this early Biograph adventure film. An American courier is trying to deliver an important message to General Washington. He seeks refuge with his family but is soon found out and shot. His family must try to deliver his message and save themselves from the licentious Hessians, who include… Mack Sennett?
Continue reading “The Hessian Renegades (1909) A Silent Film Review”
Lionel Barrymore is Mathias, a kindly Alsatian innkeeper who is being crushed by debt. Unable to deny his friends loans or his loving daughter small luxuries, Mathias is on the edge of destitution. When a rich man stops briefly at the inn (with a fortune in gold on his person), Mathias drunkenly robs and murders him. All his problems are solved. Except for that little thing called a conscience…
Continue reading “The Bells (1926) A Silent Movie Review”
John Barrymore takes on the double role of the kindly doctor and his horrible alter ego. This adaptation is Stevenson with a pinch of Wilde thrown in for good measure. This was the film that finally made Barrymore a movie star to match his acclaim on the stage. And the makeup! The makeup!
Continue reading “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) A Silent Film Review”