Theme Month! February 2015: Women at War

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While war movies are often viewed as the exclusive property of men (with the lover, driver, nurse or waiting wife sometimes thrown into the mix), there were quite a few silent era films that allowed women to get in on the action.

The prerequisite for inclusion? The female lead cannot be passive or in a support role, she must partake in combat. This month, we are going to be looking at women as assassins, generals, doughboys and snipers.

We are also going to be examining the reasons why the filmmakers chose to put women front and center in this genre. The answer is complicated and well worth discussing. As an added bonus, every single one of these films will be directed by a big name of the silent era.

Review #1: Assassin

Judith of Bethulia (1914) – Judith tries to save her village from the Assyrians. All she needs is a sexy dress and a very sharp sword. D.W. Griffith directs.

Review #2: General

Joan the Woman (1916) – The English are running roughshod over the French army. Someone needs to stop them. This looks like woman’s work! Cecil B. DeMille directs.

Review #3: Doughboy

She Goes to War (1929) – A society girl heads to France to support the troops during the First World War. She gets a lot closer to the action when she dons a uniform and goes into battle. Henry King directs.

Review #4: Sniper

The Forty-First (1927) – A Bolshevik sniper with forty kills misses the forty-first. Charged with delivering him to headquarters, things go wrong when they are shipwrecked together and a doomed romance starts. Yakov Protazanov directs.

Theme Month! January 2015: Welcome to America

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Cinema began to cover social issues almost immediately after its invention and few issues were more pressing or controversial than immigration. Aside from the fact that today there are still people from all over the world using things like the Visa Bulletin to check their own immigration status, this topic has been one of the most controversial political issues within America for decades now. The Unites States is a nation of immigrants and that reality was reflected in the movers and shakers of the motion picture industry. But how would these realities be portrayed on the screen? This month is all about looking the various ways immigrants were portrayed in silent film.

I will be paying special attention to the Jewish immigration experience and the vibrant world of Yiddish cinema. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, here are some films dealing with the topic that I have already reviewed:

The Tong Man (1919) From China to San Francisco

Little Annie Rooney (1925) From Ireland to New York

Gretchen the Greenhorn (1916) From the Netherlands to New York

The Canadian (1926) From England to Canada

Redskin (1929) Um, people, the Navajo guy is not the foreigner. You are.

Needless to say, this is a historical examination and political comments are not welcome.

Review #1: Fresh off the boat

The Immigrant (1917) – The perils, trials and triumphs of new immigrants are lovingly celebrated and kidded with in this classic Chaplin short.

Review #2: The Next Generation

His People (1925) – The sweet story of a Jewish family with the immigrant parents at odds with their very American sons.

Review #3: Those Terrible Neighbors!

The Shamrock and the Rose (1927) – A Jewish family and their Irish neighbors duke it out when their kids fall in love.

Also check out:

Silent Volume has a few reviews on the subject…

Hungry Hearts

The Yellow Ticket

Theme Month! December 2014: Have a Hart

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December of 2014 is a significant month for fans of western star William S. Hart. His first feature was released a century ago this month and he was born one hundred and fifty years ago. I couldn’t let this milestone month pass without paying tribute to everyone’s favorite Good Bad Man of the west.

What’s more, I am going to be featuring spoofs of Hart’s gritty west that star some of the best comedians of the silent era! Please enjoy. Oh, and if you have a little something special planned for Hart this month, let me know and I will link to you.

Big V Riot Squad is joining me in the Hart celebration.

To whet your appetite, here are my past reviews of Hart films. Also, I get a chance to be punny. I offer no apologies.

Dark Hart: The Toll Gate (1920) has Hart at his most menacing.

Burning Hart: Hell’s Hinges (1916) is perfectly apocalyptic.

I left my Hart in San Francisco: The Cradle of Courage (1920), in which Bill trades his Stetson for a copper’s cap.

Broken Hart: Bad Buck of Santa Ynez (1915) is a rare tragedy from our usually-victorious hero.

Review #1: New Hart

The Bargain (1914) set the stage for all subsequent Hart films. It’s also a darn good piece of entertainment that holds up remarkably well.

Review #2: Lying Hart

Keno Bates, Liar (1915) was Hart’s last short film and provides an unexpected bit of vamping, courtesy of Louise Glaum.

Review #3: Lloyd Goes West

Two-Gun Gussie (1918) is Harold Lloyd’s fun little short dealing with the perils of a jazz pianist in the oldish west.

Review #4: Arbuckle-Keaton-St. John Go West

Out West (1918) is a dark, morbid and violent send-up of William S. Hart’s grown-up westerns.

Theme Month! November 2014: Go big or go home

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Silent movies could be small, intimate, delicate affairs. We are not going to talk about those. This month, we are all about the biggest, the most epic and the most popular films of the silent era. Only epics need apply.

To whet everyone’s appetite for the silent movie hugeness to come, here are some past reviews to enjoy:

The Volga Boatman

Michael Strogoff*

The Sea Hawk*

The Lost World

Cyrano de Bergerac

The Beloved Rogue*

The Merry Widow

(Particular favorites marked with an *)

Theme Month! October 2014: Welcome to the Nickelodeon

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To readers of a certain age, the word “nickelodeon” evokes images of obnoxious orange and lots of green slime. However, the original use of the word meant a cheap theater that showed a selection of short films for a low price. They charged a nickel– thus the name– which is about a dollar in modern money.

These theaters were not seen as proper places for “nice” people and particularly not young ladies but they were instrumental in spreading the popularity of motion pictures as an art. No one quite agrees on when the era started and ended. 1905-1915 is a common rule of thumb. In any case, feature films were the rule by 1915, nicer theaters were springing up and the era of the nickelodeon was over.

This month is all about celebrating these intriguing films. They were responsible for creating the modern film industry. Let’s give them their day in the sun.

I will be updating this page throughout the month but in the meantime, here are some nickelodeon era reviews from the archives:

(Stars include Mary Pickford, the Gish sisters, William S. Hart, Mabel Normand and Charlie Chaplin)

Bad Buck of Santa Ynez (1915)

The Country Doctor (1909)

Friends (1912)

The Hessian Renegades (1909)

Mabel’s Dramatic Career (1913)

The New York Hat (1912)

A Night in the Show (1915)

The Peasants’ Lot (1912)

The Sunbeam (1912)

An Unseen Enemy (1912)

The Taming of the Shrew (1908)

Won in a Cupboard (1914)

I hope you enjoy the trip to a forgotten time in film history!

Theme Month! September 2014: One hundred years ago… The films of 1914

This month is all about the films that turn 100 this year. 1914 was an intriguing time in cinema history. The feature film era was dawning and the star system as we know it was starting to solidify. However, the free-wheeling spirit of the early days was still in evidence. Vamps, flappers and sheiks were not yet on the scene but the stage was set.

In many ways, the audiences of 1914 were very similar to the audiences of 2014. Adventure and fantasy ruled at the box office, along with some still-shocking spots of darkness.

Here are some 1914 topics I have already covered:

The Squaw Man (Cecil B. DeMille’s debut)

Won in a Cupboard (Mabel Normand directs)

And the top American stars of 1914 were…

On to the new stuff!

Review #1: Cinderella

Mary Pickford’s version of the popular tale. Co-stars her then-husband, Owen Moore.

Review #2: The Magic Cloak of Oz

L. Frank Baum produced a series of silent Oz films. This is the first.

Review #3: The Wishing Ring

A charming and lovely little romance set in old England.

Review #4: Brute Island

Lest you think all 1914 movies were sweetness and light, here is a rather nasty piece of business from writer-director-star Harry Carey.

Theme Month! August 2014: It was a dark and stormy night

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I do so love a good mystery! This month, I am going to be celebrating a very specific sub-genre, plus some added gems of atmospheric murder. The Old Dark House movie has fallen out of favor but I still love it.

The ingredients:

1 old mansion

6-12 suspicious characters

1 or more murders

Add some stylish direction, some gallows humor and then let ‘er rip! Good stuff.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy beating the dog days of summer with a few cold and foggy evenings of terror and/or laughs. Look for more reviews to be posted throughout the month but in the meantime, please enjoy some of my past reviews.

The Cat and the Canary (print review)

The Cat and the Canary (video review)

The Charlatan

Review #1: A C0ttage on Dartmoor (1929)

Stalking, madness and attempted murder on the English moors. What more could we ask for?

Review #2: The Monster (1925)

Lon Chaney plays a mad scientist in this camptastic fright fest.

Review #3: Seven Keys to Baldpate (1917)

George M. Cohan tries his hand at the movies in the adaptation of his creepy stage hit.

Review #4: The Last Performance (1929)

Conrad Veidt plays a jilted magician who just might be dangerous. (You think?)

Review #5: Haunted Spooks (1920)

Harold Lloyd gets in on the fun with this classic “haunted” house comedy.

Theme Month! June 2014: Russia

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When silent Russian cinema is mentioned, it is likely that Sergei Eisenstein will be the first name that comes up. Eisenstein was a supremely talented director and remains an important figure in world cinema but the history of film in Russia is much greater than just one man.

This month is all about celebrating the hidden corners of the Russian cinematic experience. We are going to take a look at film under the the Czar, the work of Russians in exile, the humor of Soviet productions and how Russians fared in Hollywood.

I am an enormous devotee of Russian cinema from every period. I love its rich characterizations, its astonishing cinematography, its quirky humor, its understated love stories and, most of all, its depth.

Russian characters in Hollywood films are often reduced to caricatures and unflattering ones at that. I hope you enjoy taking a trip back in time and meeting real Russians as reflected through the lens of cinema.

If you think that Russian films were all dreary and dark, I submit to you Vinni Puh, their own Winnie the Pooh. Cutest. Thing. Ever. Approximately 1,000,000,000 times better than Disney. Sorry, Disney. (Actually, not sorry. At all.)

Here are a few things that I may as well get off my chest now:

  • I am spelling it “czar” and not “tsar” because I like “czar” better.
  • Anastasia is dead. She died in 1918. They found the body. I’m sorry to put it so bluntly but them’s the facts. Still loved the 1956 movie, though.
  • Rasputin was not a Bolshevik, nor was he an undead sorcerer with a talking bat. (That cartoon has a lot to answer for.)
  • The USSR made a lot of movies. Some were propaganda films and some were not. Some were even subversive. Calling all Soviet films “propaganda pictures” is incorrect. (See cute bear cartoon above.)
  • Using “Я” instead of “R” does not make your word look Russian. Я is pronounced “ya” so stop doing this. It’s overdone and unimaginative, you will look a fool and you will annoy the Yaussians.

As an appetizer, here is a selection of Russian-themed films I have already covered on the site:

Germans as Russians

Waxworks (1924)

French as Russians

La révolution en Russie (1905)

Americans as Russians

The Volga Boatman (1926)

The Eagle (1925)*

Manhandled (1924)

Tempest (1928)

The Cossack Whip (1916)

Russians as Americans

Miss Mend (1926)

*Yes, I realize the leads are Italian and Hungarian but the production is 100% Yankee.

More coming soon! And while you are waiting, this is what you do if you are faking your Russian language skills and run into a real live Russian:

manhandled-1924-gloria-swanson-silent-movie-fake-russian“Don’t talk about the old country!”

Review #1: White Russia

The Peasants’ Lot (1912)

A look at village life in Czarist Russia, a time capsule of a place and period that would soon disappear. Intriguing technically and rich in detail, this is also a fascinating character study. Ivan Mosjoukine was 23 when he starred in this film.

Review #2: Red Russia

Chess Fever (1925)

Think Soviet cinema is all about serious propaganda dramas? You couldn’t be more wrong! Here is a delightful short that deals with the troubles of a zany chess addict.

Review #3: Russians in Exile

The Burning Crucible (1923)

A wacky send-up of French detective films, this curious box of wonders is the work of Russian exiles in Paris. A treat from beginning to end. Ivan Mosjoukine was 34 when he wrote, directed and starred in this film.

Review #4: Russians in Hollywood

Surrender (1927)

Hollywood came calling with this tale of beautiful rabbi’s daughters, Cossacks and attempted genocide. Praised to the skies by historians, does this film stand up to scrutiny? Ivan Mosjoukine was 38 when he made his journey to Hollywood.

Recommended

Theme Month! May 2014: Tournament Winners

This month is dedicated to the four winners of the silent film tournament that was held earlier this year. The talented people that you picked for the honor:

Ernst Lubitsch (Director)

Pola Negri (Leading Lady)

Sessue Hayakawa (Leading Man)

Mabel Normand (Comedian)

Quite a diverse mix, I must say. I am looking forward to the reviews.

Ernst Lubitsch

The Merry Jail (1917)

One of Lubitsch’s earliest surviving films, this is a zany marital romantic comedy. There is madcap intrigue and some rather scheming servants.

Mabel Normand

Won in a Cupboard (1914)

This is Normand’s earliest surviving film that features her wearing two hats: star and director.

Sessue Hayakawa

The Dragon Painter (1919)

One of Hayakawa’s finest roles, he plays a mad artist who must struggle with longing, loss and lack of inspiration.

Pola Negri

Hotel Imperial (1927)

Spies and other nefarious doings during the Great War and Pola must save the day. One of her biggest American hits.

Theme Month! April 2014: Make ’em laugh

2014-04-Theme-Month-Display-Banner-GreenMy theme months are rarely set in stone and this month was no exception. April was set aside for Russia but then I got a bead on some pre-Revolution stuff and knew that I could not possibly commence without it. So, you shall have to wait until June for all of your White (czarist), Red (bolshevik), Gallicized and Hollywoodized Russia.

So, what are you getting instead? A whole month of comedy! I freely admit that comedy reviews are not my strong point. In the first place, I am that unusual silent fan who prefers drama. In the second place, I find it a challenge to write about comedy without inadvertently spoiling the joke through over-analysis.

As a result, this month is something of a personal challenge for me. For what it’s worth, enjoy.

Review #1: Spoof

Burlesque on Carmen (1915)

Since it is his centennial year, we open the month with Chaplin (what better way to start?) and a movie that is both one of his best short films and one of his worst. You see, there are two versions: Chaplin’s original cut and the bloated studio release that added footage to pad the runtime. A juicy behind-the-scenes take complete with litigation? Do tell!

Review #2: Those crazy kids

The Campus Vamp (1928)

Carole Lombard has an early featured role as the vampiest vamp on the campus. Late silent Sennett with all the slapstick and bathing girls that that entails.

Review #3: Too close to home

The Frozen North (1922)

Sometimes, the target of a comedian’s humor does not get the joke. That’s what Buster Keaton found out when he decided to send up William S. Hart.

Review #4: Piña colada

Mighty Like a Moose (1926)

This comedy of adultery and plastic surgery is a real charmer. Charley Chase and Vivien Oakland are a homely married couple who both have operations and emerge knockouts. They immediately set out to have affairs… with each other!

Theme Month! March 2014: Silent Musicals

2014-03-Theme-Month-Display-Banner-GreenI have made any secret of the fact that musicals are absolutely not my cup of Darjeeling. Well, did you know that a good number of famous musicals were silent movies first? It’s true and we are going to be taking a closer look at them all month.

To whet your appetite, here are a few of my previously-published reviews that cover silent musicals:

The Wizard of Oz (1925)

Captain January (1924)

Daddy Long Legs (1919)

Carmen (1915)

Review #1: Before Disney…

Snow White (1916)

This 1916 version of Snow White was thought lost but resurfaced in the Netherlands. It is historically important as it is the film that inspired Walt Disney to make his musical animated feature of the same name.

Review #2: It wasn’t always a musical?

Kismet (1920)

While most famous as a musical, Kismet was actually a very popular stage play and was filmed as a silent movie twice. This is the second version.

Review #3: A song-free operetta

The Merry Widow (1925)

The Lehar operetta gets the von Stroheim touch in this lavish 1925 adaptation.

Review #4: Roar, Twenties, Roar!

Chicago (1927)

Satire of the legal system, saucy drama and secretly directed by Cecil B. DeMille!

 

Theme Month February 2014: The DeMille Centennial Bash

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On February 17, 1914, motion picture audiences were presented with both a new movie company (the future Paramount Pictures) and a new director, Cecil B. DeMille. The centenary of this debut is a cause for celebration and everyone is invited to my DeMille centennial bash.

First, let’s look at the thorny reputation of the man himself.

Mr. DeMille invokes a complicated response from most movie fans and critics. Are his films humorless religious tracts, muddled historical messes or meandering bits of hokum? His work has been called bloated, cynically commercial and even “middle class.” (The last jibe frankly says more about the critics than Mr. DeMille.)

If you told the pre-silent me that I would be a DeMille fan, I would have laughed. Like most carbon-based lifeforms, I had caught 1956 version of The Ten Commandments on television and I had seen The Crusades, The Plainsman, as well as a handful of other DeMille spectacles. To say I was unimpressed would be an understatement. The movies were rife with dreadful dialogue, stuffy set pieces and stilted acting. Why in the world would I subject myself to more of the same?

Well, I got into silent films and I kept reading about a movie called The Cheat. I was intrigued by its use of a Japanese leading man but put off by the DeMille brand. Finally, though, I gave in and grabbed a DVD of the film.

It’s safe to say that I was blown away. The stunning cinematography, the snappy pace, the gorgeous lighting… I had to see more and the DVD fortunately also contained the DeMille version of Carmen. I was even more impressed. Passionate performances, a delightful balance of cultural and cinematic elements, this movie had beauty and brains.

I became intrigued with DeMille. Who was this director and how did he go from the fast-paced delights of the 1910’s to the bloated epics of the sound era? What I discovered was a complicated man who was equal parts brilliant and infuriating, innovative and hackneyed. One thing he was not was boring.

DeMille is credited with directing 80 motion pictures and oversaw the production of dozens more. Of that 80, only 19 are sound films. Much of the DeMille criticism is based on just a handful of his talkies and if you have only seen DeMille’s talkies, you’re getting less than a quarter of the story.

Cecil B. DeMille’s career began with snappy botboilers, dipped its toe in epics, drew back and then segued into marital comedies, pounced back into epics and all the while dabbled in social commentary. And that was before talkies were a twinkle in Al Jolson’s eye! I am going to try to give you a nice cross-section of a varied and exciting career.

Here are the DeMille silents that I have already reviewed:

Carmen

The Cheat

Don’t Change Your Husband

Why Change Your Wife?

The Golden Chance

Review #1: DeMille the Influencer

Adam’s Rib (1923)

Cecil B. DeMille’s long career meant that a good number of up-and-comers crossed paths with him on their way to the top. Take Adam’s Rib, a film with a subplot involving a paleontologist and a flapper. Dinosaur bones and a dizzy dame? Sounds familiar… Should I mention that DeMille was employee a propman named Howard Hawks?

Review #2: DeMille the Noirish

The Whispering Chorus (1918)

DeMille wows with this dark, twisted tale of a guilty conscience and a dead body or two. Think DeMille was tied to epics and couldn’t make an intimate character study? Prepare for a shock!

Review #3: DeMille the Amateur

The Squaw Man (1914)

We all have to start somewhere and DeMille’s first film as director was also one of the very first feature films made in Hollywood. But did you know the behind-the-scenes story is even more fascinating than the film itself?

Review #4: DeMille the Studio Head

The Road to Yesterday (1925)

DeMille tried his hand at running an entire studio and The Road to Yesterday was the very first film he released in that endeavor. It also features William “Hopalong Cassidy” Boyd and Joseph Schildkraut.

Theme Month January 2014: Neighbors

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This month, I will be celebrating the U.S.’s two closest neighbors: Canada and Mexico. Who doesn’t like a little neighborly goodwill?

First, I will review films from Canadian and Mexican-born performers who made it big in Hollywood. Then, I will review silent films that were made in these countries.

Choosing which performers to feature was a huge challenge. So many wonderful actors and actresses!

Review #1: Mack Sennett in Mabel’s Dramatic Career

Silent Hollywood’s king of comedy was born in Quebec to Irish immigrants. He is famous as a producer but did you know that Mack Sennett also acted in many of his early films?

Other talented Canadians in silent cinema included Mary Pickford, Florence Lawrence, Marie Dressler, Norma Shearer, and Walter Pidgeon.

Review #2: Dolores Del Rio in The Trail of ’98

Dolores Del Rio was born in Mexico but achieved her first phase of film stardom in the United States. Billed as a “lady Valentino,” Del Rio was an actress of great sensitivity and depth. Here is one of her early starring roles, a gold prospector in Alaska.

Other talented Mexicans in silent cinema included Ramon Novarro, Gilbert Roland and Lupe Velez.

Review #3: See beautiful Canada in Back to God’s Country

The Canadian wilderness gets a love letter from this movie. Pioneering actress-writer-producer Nell Shipman wows as a heroine who must save her husband (and herself) from a man bent on melodramatic villainy.

Theme Month! December 2013: Special to Me

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This month, I am going to be sharing silent films that are special to me personally in one way or another.

Review #1: The film that made me love silent movies

City Lights (1931)

Talkies were the rule but Charlie Chaplin wowed Depression-era audiences with his brilliant throwback.

Review #2: The first silent feature I ever saw

Sparrows (1926)

Mary Pickford’s slice of Southern Gothic is a creepy treat.

Review #3: The first silent movie I was obsessed with

The Lost World (1925)

A subject dear to any kindergartner’s heart: Dinosaurs!

Review #4: A film that made me love the pre-feature silents

The Sunbeam (1912)

A melodrama with its feet firmly planted in Victorian times. Know what else? It’s fantastic.

Theme Month! November 2013: Color in Silent Film

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How do you get a color movie? Shoot in color, silly! In the silent era, however, there were a lot more options for getting color on the screen. For the month of November, I am going to celebrate the colorful world of silent film.

Here were the most common methods used:

Tinting & Toning: The entire frame is given a particular hue. Simply put, tinting affects the “whites” while toning affects the “blacks” and both techniques could be combined.

Hand Coloring: Color is applied by hand to portions of individual frames.

(via the-frame.com)

Stencil Color: A stencil is cut for each color that is to be applied. This allows for greater precision and faster duplication. Pathecolor was a stencil process.

Color Film (Technicolor): Yes, it did predate the talkie revolution. However, it only recorded blends of red and green. I am not a huge fan of the eyeball-searing Technicolor of the 30’s-50’s so this early process appeals to me. The limited palette gives the images a gorgeous watercolor feel. While some movies were filmed entirely this way, it was more common for movies to employ color sequences lasting a few minutes.

I will be reviewing movies that make use of each and every one of these color methods!

Review #1: Hand-colored

The Great Train Robbery (1903)

One of the earliest movie blockbusters, this classic also boasts of hand-colored sequences.

Review #2: Technicolor

Redskin (1929)

One of the last major silent films ever made, this race drama uses stunning color to tell its tale.

Review #3: Sepia Tone

The Wicked Darling (1919)

The first collaboration between Lon Chaney and Tod Browning features some sepia!

Review #4: Tinted

Upstream (1927)

This long-lost John Ford silent boasts some lovely tints.

Review #5: Stencil Colored

Cyrano de Bergerac (1925)

The famous tale given silent movie treatment, complete with gorgeous stencil color!

Theme Month! October 2013: Reader Requests

2013-10Theme-Month-display-banner-GreenBack in June, I asked my blog readers to choose my reviews for the month of October. I was overwhelmed by the great suggestions and had trouble narrowing down my choices.

I really enjoyed the experience because it forced me out of my comfort zone and made me review films that were not necessarily on my to-watch list.

As promised, I will be linking to the websites of the folks who suggested these films.

Review #1

The Wizard of Oz (1925)

This film was requested by Tumblr user Nitrateglow, a silent film buff who was one of my first fans and the very first to respond to my reader request poll. The Wizard of Oz is widely considered one of the worst silent films ever made. Let’s see if it lives up to its reputation.

Review #2

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)

This film was requested by the folks at the Toronto Silent Film Festival. If you happen to be in the Toronto area on April 3-8, 2014… well, why not enjoy some excellent silent entertainment? By the way, The Adventures of Prince Achmed is the earliest surviving full-length animated feature.

Review #3

The Red Lily (1924)

This film was requested by Comet Over Hollywood and Noir Dame. This is a dark tale of Parisian love gone sour. One star’s reputation has grown over the years (Ramon Novarro) while the other star is all but forgotten (Enid Bennett).

Review #4

Lizzies of the Field (1924)

This comedy short was requested by A Modern Musketeer. Two rival garages decide to settle their differences in a wacky endurance race. Real cars, real stunts.

Review #5

Silent Movie (1976)

This comedy was requested by True Classics and Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence. Popular director Mel Brooks decided to ressurrect the silent film in the 1970’s and hilarity ensues. Packed with cameos and sight gags.

Theme Month! September 2013: Vamps, Flappers and Superstars, oh my!

2013-09Theme-Month-display-banner-GreenThis month is all about the top female stars of the silent era. These are the ladies who made it into the history books and are remembered to this day as the most popular actresses of their time.

While I am preparing my new reviews for publication, here are some past reviews of superstar films:

Daddy Long Legs: Mary Pickford

The Wind: Lillian Gish

The Social Secretary: Norma Talmadge

Barbed Wire: Pola Negri

Why Change Your Wife?: Gloria Swanson

Mantrap: Clara Bow

Ella Cinders: Colleen Moore

Review #1: The Gish Sisters

An Unseen Enemy (1912)

The famous siblings made their debut together in this suspenseful melodrama.

Review #2: Florence Lawrence

The Country Doctor (1909)

An extremely rare film featuring the woman considered by many to be the first true movie star.

Review #3: Gloria Swanson

Manhandled (1924)

Gloria Swanson abandons her beaded gowns and ostrich plumes to play a naive shop girl in this romantic comedy.

Review #4: Clara Bow

Parisian Love (1925)

Before she hit it big, Clara Bow churned out dozens of potboilers. This one is directed by Louis “Reefer Madness” Gasnier.

Theme Month! August 2013: Crime Inc.

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Gangsters! Petty thieves! Blackmailers! Rum runners! The silent era was a hotbed of crime and if you think that the gangster movie was invented with the talkie, well, prepare to be enlightened!

This month, I will be reviewing silent movies with one thing in common, all of them are about some sort of crime.

In the meantime, here are just a few of my older crime-oriented reviews:

The Bells: Robbery and murder most foul!

Below the Surface: Con games!

Carmen: Banditry and more murder!

The Cradle of Courage: The gangs of ‘Frisco!

Little Annie Rooney: The gangs of New York!

Raffles: Gentlemanly robbery!

The Sheik: Abduction and abduction!

Review #1: Fraud and embezzlement!

The Doll (1919)

In order to avoid marriage (but still claim a hefty dowry) a young man weds a life-size doll. Uproarious comedy from Ernst Lubitsch.

Review #2: Highway robbery and identity theft

A Romance of the Redwoods (1917)

Mary Pickford is a city girl who goes west only to discover that a bandit has stolen the identity of the relative she was to stay with.

Review #3: Safe-cracking

Alias Jimmy Valentine (1915)

A bank robber leaves his life of crime behind after a stint at Sing Sing but the police are not inclined to believe him.

Review #4: Bootlegging

Feel My Pulse (1928)

Bebe Daniels is a hypochondriac heiress who stumbles on a nest of ruthless bootleggers. I feel sorry for the bootleggers.

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