Fun Size Review: The Cat and the Canary (1927)

The Location: Old Dark House. Time: Dark and Stormy Night. The Will: Laura La Plante will inherit a fortune if she can prove she is sane. The Problem: One of the many guests present is determined to drive her insane– and murder anyone who gets in the way! Thrills, chills, laughs, gorgeous cinematography and more character actors than you can shake a femur at. A great introduction to silent films.

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How does it end? Hover or tap below for a spoiler.

The murderer reveals himself and it’s… Cousin Charles! Laura La Plante gets out safe and sane.

If it were a desert it would be: Turtle trifle. Dark, fun and full of nuts.

Ready my full-length review here.

Availability: Released on DVD and via streaming.

Silent Movie Bookshelf: Daddy Danced the Charleston by Ruth Corbett

This is not just a book for silent film enthusiasts. Any fan of classic film is going to find a lot to like. But I am getting ahead of myself. Daddy Danced the Charleston is “a nostalgic remembrance of our yesterdays.” In this case, “our” means people who came of age between 1920 and 1950. So this book encompasses the silent era, the pre-Code era and much of the Golden Age as well.

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The Mark of Zorro (1920) A Silent Film Review

Douglas Fairbanks stars in the very first Zorro movie. The tale is familiar: Zorro is a Californian Robin Hood, who robs from the rich, gives to the poor, fights oppression, romances the beautiful Lolita and does battle with the villainous Captain Ramon. And, this being a Fairbanks vehicle, there is quite a lot of leaping about in the bargain!
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Introducing Fun Size Reviews

Hello, all!

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.

Enjoy!

Silent Movie Bookshelf: The Mark of Zorro by Johnston McCulley

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.

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The Sea Hawk (1924) A Silent Film Review

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…
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Lost Film Files #5: The Great Gatsby (1926)

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.

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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.

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The distributor magazine Motion Picture News had this to say:

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

Movies Silently Quarterly Report

Here is what happened in the first quarter of 2013:

Top Reviews: You love Valentino and Veidt!

  1. The Sheik
  2. The Indian Tomb
  3. The Love Flower
  4. The Cheat
  5. Judex

Top Articles: You like to read about silent movie myths!

  1. Silent Movie Myth #3: The Firsts
  2. Silent Movie Myth #1: Silent stars had funny voices
  3. Silent Movie Myth #4: Tied to the Railroad Tracks
  4. Silent Movie Myth #2: Silent Movies are just Sound Movies with a few intertitles
  5. 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?

The Sea Lion (1921) A Silent Film Review

It has Bessie Love and Hobart Bosworth! That can’t be bad!

Captain January (1924) A Silent Film Review

Baby Peggy stars with the afore-mentioned Mr. Bosworth. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll say “awwwww!”

Miss Lulu Bett (1921) A Silent Film Review

Lois Wilson and the always-splendid Milton Sills star in this one. It is one of the sweetest romances in silent film.

Eve’s Leaves (1926) A Silent Movie Review

Leatrice Joy and William Boyd star in this ship-bound gender bender. Wacky fun!

Little Annie Rooney (1925) A Silent Film Review

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.

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Canada
  4. France
  5. Sweden

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.