In the Vaults #9: The Song of Love (1923)

Status: 35mm prints held by The Library of Congress and the Czech Film Archive.

The Song of Love is one of those films that is more famous for what went on behind the camera. First, there was drama on the set. Joseph Schildkraut got most of the blame but I think he was just annoyed about being decked out in spit curls and ballet flats.

Anyway, news reports about the Talmadge-Schildkraut collaboration went from this:

song-of-love-norma-talmadge-joseph-schildkraut-2

to this:

song-of-love-norma-talmadge-joseph-schildkraut-1

But I still blame those spit curls.

Don’t worry about Mr. Schildkraut, by the way. He ended up just fine.

He cried all the way to the Oscars.
He cried all the way to the Oscars.

And the film was Frances Marion’s third and final attempt at breaking into directing. Marion was, of course, a popular and successful screenwriter. The first film she directed was The Love Light (which, for the record, I hated), starring Mary Pickford and Marion’s husband Fred Thomson. Marion was hit by a falling arc lamp while making The Song of Love and frequent Norma Talmadge collaborator Chester M. Franklin filled in while she recovered.

The scenario was adapted by Marion as well. Norma Talmadge’s character is named Noorma-hal. Noorma-hal. This is going to hurt, isn’t it? I wonder if any scenarios exist for Poola-hal Negri? Or Doorothy-hal Gish? Or Doouglas-hal Fairbanks?

Okay, I’ll stop.

The plot involves a dancing girl (Talmadge) who falls for an undercover French agent (Schildkraut). When a villainous rebel chieftain (Arthur Edmund Carewe) captures Mr. Schildkraut (spit curls and all), Miss Talmadge must spring into action to save the man she loves. All while (naturally) wearing teensy little costumes. Feminism!

Photoplay was mildly enthusiastic:

song-of-love-norma-talmadge-joseph-schildkraut-4

Norma Talmadge steps slightly out of character one always thinks of her as dignity incarnate to become Noorma-hal, a passionate, lovely dancing girl of the desert. Although a different Norma she is always charming, always warmly sympathetic. Torn between the faith of her ancestors and the love of a man who has confessed to being a spy, the girl is forced to tight a great battle with herself.

Variety less so:

Outside of Miss Talmadge there isn’t an awful lot to “The Song of Love.” It is another of those desert stories, the same type more or less that went out of fashion a little over a year ago as far as the big first-run houses were concerned, at any rate. There is a lot of sand, some of the sheik stuff, some hard riding and gunplay, and above all Norma slips through a dance.

Just because a film was written by a woman, directed by a woman, and starred a woman… well, that doesn’t make it feminist. This is a fact some film historians seem to ignore. However, while it doesn’t work as an empowerment film, it looks like there are other advantages to this movie. Frankly, it looks like a kitschy riot! Here’s hoping we get to see it soon!

How I make animated GIFs

This is probably the number one question that I receive from fellow bloggers so I thought I would do a quick post on the topic.

1. I use Corel WinDVD to capture the GIF.

The software allows you to press a button and capture up to 15 seconds of imagery in GIF form. (It is also what I use for my review screen caps.)

As of this writing, the software has a 30 day free trial period.

2. I edit the GIF in Photoshop

I edit the speed of the GIF, the size and other features using Photoshop. The much-much-cheaper Photoshop Elements is also capable of editing GIFs. I have also heard of folks using GIMP (a freeeware image editor) successfully for their GIFs.

There are tons of tutorials available online for you GIF-makers. I am just a hobbyest so if you have any tech support issues, please contact the software maker. 😉 I am not posting a tutorial because there are already so many fabulous ones already. That’s how I learned. Just click on a link and have fun! (If you need a beginner Photoshop, Photoshop Elements or GIMP tutorial, those are easy to find as well.) I’m not offering tech support, is what I’m saying.

Also note that my GIFs are sized for WordPress, which treats GIFs like any other image file. Tumblr users have to stay under a certain file size (I have heard the limit is either 1MB or 2MB but I have never had a 2MB GIF work well for me.) I repost to Tumblr but size for WordPress.

Is this GIF method the only way? Nah but it works for me and I’m happy.

Naturally, the GIFs and screencaps are used for criticism and commentary.

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.

Continue reading “Bloggers take note: Do not insult potential romantic partners online! Animated GIF”

Fun Size Review: Raffles the Amateur Cracksman (1917)

John Barrymore is a gentleman crook out to steal a priceless necklace. Frank Morgan (aka, Oz the Great and Powerful) is his best pal Bunny. Yes, Bunny. A shady lady from John’s past threatens to ruin everything but our hero is clever and intrepid. Fun plot and story done in by plodding pace and way too many intertitles. Morgan and Barrymore are the best things in the film but they cannot save it.

Continue reading “Fun Size Review: Raffles the Amateur Cracksman (1917)”

UPDATE: Funny Lady Blogathon

Hello everyone! I have been just overwhelmed by the response to the blogathon! There are more wonderful entries than I could have hoped for. Since we have reached the 10 day countdown, I thought it would be a good time to update everyone.

First, though, let me explain what the blogathon is all about. We are celebrating the feminine side of comedy, specifically classic film and television. Participants choose comedienne who was active from the dawn of film to 1970. Then the fun begins!

Some bloggers will be writing bios. Some will be reviewing films. Others will be creating articles.  There is no limit on how you can celebrate your funny lady! Paint a picture, write a poem, make a GIF, create a gallery, edit a video tribute… Whatever you like so long as it celebrates your actress of choice.

You can still participate!

As I stated in my previous post, this is an open blogathon and there is no pre-event cut-off date for registration. That means that you can submit your funny lady choice up to the dates of the event, June 29-30. The two hard and fast rules that I have are that the funny lady must be from the pre-1970 era and that there be no duplicates. There are so many talented women in the business of classic comedy that it should be easy to find a unique choice to celebrate.

To join up, just let me know the name and URL of your blog, as well as your funny lady of choice. You can contact me by email, reach me on Twitter (@MoviesSilently) or leave a comment.

If you are on Tumblr and wish to participate in a purely visual manner, simply use the tag #funnyladyblogathon on the blogathon dates.

If you change your mind and want to choose another actress: Just let me know and I will adjust the roster. Easy!

I know that a lot of the major players have been taken already. Here is a small list of great actresses who have not yet found a home:

Audrey Hepburn, June Allyson, Betty Grable, Veronica Lake, Marie Dressler, Constance Talmadge, Mae Busch, Ethel Merman, Dorothy Provine, Natalie Wood, Shirley Temple, Margaret Sullavan, Goldie Hawn (if you want to cover Cactus Flower), Lee Remick (she was marvelously funny in No Way to Treat a Lady), Lupe Velez, Debbie Reynolds, Paulette Goddard, Jeanne Crain, Thelma Ritter

News

Here is what is going to happen on the day of the blogathon: I will put up a new post listing the participants.

Here’s what I would like you to do: Please contact me with the URL of your blogathon post. Otherwise, I will be posting a link to your blog’s homepage, which will mean it will be more difficult for readers to find your blogathon post as time passes.

Also, please be sure to link back to one of the blogathon’s posts on this site so that your readers can enjoy the work of the other participants.

Non-participation: If you had an emergency or just plain forgot, let me know and I will be sure to keep your blog on the roster, even if the post is up to a week late.

If you are going out of town and would like to post a little early, that is perfectly all right by me. All you need to do is send me the URL of your post and I will make sure it is listed with the others.

I have arbitrarily divided the ladies into three categories covering the time when they did their most famous work. It’s just a guesstimate to keep things tidy so don’t be mad if I put someone in the wrong slot.

Blogs with direct links to the posts will be marked with an *

The Silent Ladies

*Movies Silently | Marion Davies in Show People + sundry GIFs

Comet Over Hollywood | Zasu Pitts

*The World’s Funniest Dissertation | Mabel Normand

*The Movie Rat | Louise Fazenda

*Noir and Chick Flicks | Clara Bow

*Family Friendly Reviews | Mary Pickford in My Best Girl

*A Modern Musketeer | Martha Sleeper

*A Mythical Monkey | Funny Ladies of the Silent Era: A Baker’s Dozen

The Golden Age, Thirties and Forties

*I Started Late and Forgot the Dog | Ginger Rogers

*Crítica Retrô | Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday

*Girls Do Film | Katharine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby

*The Vintage Cameo | Carmen Miranda

*Thrilling Days of Yesteryear | Thelma Todd

*Classic Movie Hub | Kathleen Howard

*I Humbly Suggest… | Irene Dunne

*She Blogged by Night | Margaret Dumont in Duck Soup

*Portraits by Jenni | Claudette Colbert in The Palm Beach Story

*Spoilers | Jean Arthur in The Public Menace

*Stardust | Una Merkel

*Close Ups and Long Shots | Jean Harlow

*Shadows and Satin | Isabel Jewell

*Love Those Classic Movies!!! | Billie Burke

*Film Flare | Barbara Stanwyck

*i luv cinema | Mae West

*Destroy All Fanboys | Betty Hutton The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek

Naughty Librarian | Miriam Hopkins

Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence | Myrna Loy

*Movie Classics | Margaret Rutherford in Blithe Spirit

*Let’s Go to the Movies | Carole Lombard

The Nifty Fifties and Swinging Sixties

*Motion Picture Gems | Marjorie Main

*Silver Scenes | Joan Davis

*Frankly My Dear | Lucille Ball

*The Kitty Packard Pictorial | Shirley MacLaine

*Once Upon a Screen | Gracie Allen

*The Great Katharine Hepburn | When Comedy Was Queen: The Women of the 1950s Sitcom

*Blame Mame | Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

*Oh, Don’t Be Diriculous! | Doris Day

*Caftan Woman | Judy Holliday

*The Motion Pictures | Mary Tyler Moore

*Cindy Bruchman | Maureen O’Hara

*Cinemalacrum | Marilyn Monroe

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.

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

Tempest (1928) 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!

Continue reading “Tempest (1928) A Silent Film Review”

Fun Size Review: Miss Mend (1926)

Soviet serial in the American style with a dash of German. It’s the tale of four California-born pals who uncover a nefarious plot to attack Russia with poisonous gas. A crazy-quilt of styles. It is a ton of fun to see how the west coast of the USA is portrayed in a film made 100% on Russian soil. Turnabout is fair play, Hollywood has made its share of Russian-set tales. Beautiful, strange and quite often wondrous.

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Silent Movie Bookshelf: Star Quality by Aurthur F. McClure and Ken D. Jones

I do so love my biographical collections! This one focuses on the stars of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s but since a lot of those talented folks started in the silents, it is a great addition to my bookshelf. I highly recommend it for golden age film buffs as well. Actually, not just buffs. This book would be ideal for a newcomer to classic movie watching.

Continue reading “Silent Movie Bookshelf: Star Quality by Aurthur F. McClure and Ken D. Jones”

Lost Film Files #17: The Amateur Gentleman (1926)

Status: Missing and presumed lost

This Richard Barthelmess vehicle was based on the 1913 novel of the same name by Jeffery Farnol. The novel told the tale of the son of a prizefighter who tries to break into English society in the Regency era. The silent era was not overly fond of Regency-era costume pictures (some were made but silents generally skewed Victorian and Elizabethan) so it would be fun to see how they handled this tale. Plus Richard Barthelmess is always a pleasure to watch.

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Fun Size Review: The Son of the Sheik (1926)

Valentino’s swan song and it is a humdinger, let me tell you. Rudy is back as both father and son, Vilma Banky is the leading lady, Karl Dane supports and Montagu Love provides the villainy. Plot stays pretty much the same as the first: Boy loves girl, boy kidnaps girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back again. Slicker, sleeker, smarter and more (intentionally) humorous than the first time around (though still not without its controversy). Showcases Valentino to perfection.

Continue reading “Fun Size Review: The Son of the Sheik (1926)”

Funny Lady Blogathon

For the very latest news, please visit the Blogathon Update Page!

Let’s all celebrate the feminine funnybone with the Funny Lady Blogathon. It will be held on June 29-30. The goal is to celebrate the wit and wacky ways of female comedians. This is a classic blogathon so any funny actress from the beginning of film to 1970 is eligible.

Here’s the skinny:

Who can join:

You can! All bloggers are welcome. There is no pre-event cutoff date. You can join right up to the first day of the Blogathon! (And maybe even after, we’re pretty casual in these parts.)

How to participate:

Pick a comedienne from pre-1970 cinema. Then have fun! Post an image gallery, review a film, write a biography, paint a picture, create a GIF, write a poem…

Your Funny Lady can be a dedicated comedienne (Mabel Normand, Beatrice Lillie) or a dramatic actress who also excelled in comedy (Katherine Hepburn, Carole Lombard).

There are a ton of funny ladies to choose from so I am asking for no duplicates, please. And I selfishly snagged Marion Davies for myself.

Need inspiration? Here are some unclaimed Funny Ladies: Marie Dressler, Bebe Daniels, Marilyn Monroe, Edna Purviance, Myrna Loy, Audrey Hepburn, Lupe Velez, Carole Lombard, Constance Talmadge, Dorothy Gish, Leatrice Joy, Margaret Sullivan.

If you are on Tumblr and deal exclusively in images and GIFs, simply tag your posts #funnyladyblogathon on June 29-30.

You can either leave a comment, tweet me @MoviesSilently or contact me via email to join in. And grab yourself a banner too.

There is no pre-event cut-off date for entries. I will be accepting new participants up to the Blogathon date.

Oops, I changed my mind!

No problem! Just contact me and let me know your new choice and I will update the roster.

I have arbitrarily divided the ladies into three categories covering the time when they did their most famous work. It’s just a guesstimate to keep things tidy so don’t be mad if I put someone in the wrong slot.

Blogs with direct links to the posts will be marked with an *

The Silent Ladies

*Movies Silently | Marion Davies in Show People + sundry GIFs

Comet Over Hollywood | Zasu Pitts

*The World’s Funniest Dissertation | Mabel Normand

*The Movie Rat | Louise Fazenda

*Noir and Chick Flicks | Clara Bow

*Family Friendly Reviews | Mary Pickford in My Best Girl

*A Modern Musketeer | Martha Sleeper

*A Mythical Monkey | Funny Ladies of the Silent Era: A Baker’s Dozen

The Golden Age, Thirties and Forties

*I Started Late and Forgot the Dog | Ginger Rogers

*Crítica Retrô | Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday

*Girls Do Film | Katharine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby

*The Vintage Cameo | Carmen Miranda

*Thrilling Days of Yesteryear | Thelma Todd

*Classic Movie Hub | Kathleen Howard

*I Humbly Suggest… | Irene Dunne

*She Blogged by Night | Margaret Dumont in Duck Soup

*Portraits by Jenni | Claudette Colbert in The Palm Beach Story

*Spoilers | Jean Arthur in The Public Menace

*Stardust | Una Merkel

*Close Ups and Long Shots | Jean Harlow

*Shadows and Satin | Isabel Jewell

*Love Those Classic Movies!!! | Billie Burke

*Film Flare | Barbara Stanwyck

*i luv cinema | Mae West

*Destroy All Fanboys | Betty Hutton The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek

Naughty Librarian | Miriam Hopkins

Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence | Myrna Loy

*Movie Classics | Margaret Rutherford in Blithe Spirit

*Let’s Go to the Movies | Carole Lombard

The Nifty Fifties and Swinging Sixties

*Motion Picture Gems | Marjorie Main

*Silver Scenes | Joan Davis

*Frankly My Dear | Lucille Ball

*The Kitty Packard Pictorial | Shirley MacLaine

*Once Upon a Screen | Gracie Allen

*The Great Katharine Hepburn | When Comedy Was Queen: The Women of the 1950s Sitcom

*Blame Mame | Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

*Oh, Don’t Be Diriculous! | Doris Day

*Caftan Woman | Judy Holliday

*The Motion Pictures | Mary Tyler Moore

*Cindy Bruchman | Maureen O’Hara

*Cinemalacrum | Marilyn Monroe

Help Wanted: You choose my reviews!

As you recall, my theme month for June was chosen by my readers in a poll. Now I am going one step further. I am going to have an entire month in which I review nothing but reader requests!

Here’s how it works: Request a silent movie that you would like me to review. I will go through the requests and select 4-7 (depending on their length) for review.

The requests so far (please keep them coming!):

(I will update this section as I get more feedback)

My loyal subscriber Emma requested The Wizard of Oz (1925), widely considered the worst silent film ever made. She also requested The Married Virgin, The General and Sadie Thompson.

The Toronto Silent Film Festival requested The Adventures of Prince Achmed, JÁccuse and The Crowd (or anything directed by King Vidor). For comedy, Seven Years Bad Luck, Limousine Love and Putting the Pants on Phillip.

Terry of A Shroud of Thoughts requested some German horror: Nosferatu and The Golem.

Kendra of VivAndLarry.com requested Pandora’s Box.

Jessica of Comet Over Hollywood requested Red Lily.

Chris of StoryBox requested The Poor Little Rich Girl.

Danny of Pre-Code.com requested The Toll of the Sea.

Trevor of A Modern Musketeer requested Lizzies of the Field and His Prehistoric Past.

Paul on Twitter requested The Kid.

Barry of Cinematic Catharsis requested a Lon Chaney/Tod Browning collaboration.

Judy of Movie classics requested The Phantom Carriage.

Cindy Bruchman requested a Charlie Chaplin film.

Silent Beauties recommended two Danish films, Atlantis and The Abyss.

Michael on Twitter requested City Lights.

Jonathan Moya sent me a long list of fabulous recommendations. Here are the highlights (and the ones that are not either already reviewed or currently scheduled): Sunrise, Greed, Ben Hur, The Battleship Potemkin, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and A Woman of Paris.

Lindsey of The Motion Pictures requested HE Who Gets Slapped.

Jenni of Portraits by Jenni requested Broken Blossoms and White Shadows in the South Seas.

Subscriber Richard requested Les Vampires and Faust.

Jonathan on Twitter requested The General.

Thomas of We Want Hollywood requested Rubber Tires.

Noir Dame seconded Red Lily and Nosferatu. She also requested Sherlock Jr., The Plastic Age and a Talmadge sister title.

Aurora of Once Upon a Screen requested Romance of the Redwoods, the first of two Mary Pickford/Cecil B. DeMille collaborations.

Blog reader Suzanne requested The Last Command.

My подруга requested Seventh Heaven and The Unknown.

Blog reader Alex requested Diary of a Lost Girl.

David on Twitter requested Coeur Fidèle

Blog reader Cindy requested The Big Parade, A Woman of Paris or anything with Garbo and Gilbert.

My 오빠 requested Wild Oranges

Brandie of True Classics and Jill of Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence requested Silent Movie (1976)

How you can join in:

Use the comments or this handy contact box. I am also on the Twitter so you may tweet me. Be sure to mention if you have a blog or a website since I will give you a shout-out it if I choose your film request (assuming the content is SFW, of course). You can also request a genre or a performer, if you don’t have any titles in mind.

I should probably mention that I have a small list of films I will not be reviewing under any circumstances. Don’t worry, there are only two films on it. Just thought I would issue the warning.

Lost Film Files #16: Far From the Madding Crowd (1915)

Status: Missing and presumed lost

If ever there was a tale to showcase leading men, this is it. Thomas Hardy’s 1874 novel features three juicy parts for the boys: The flashy playboy, the mature stalker and the solid (and stolid!) suitor-in-waiting. There is also a doozy of a leading lady part and a few nice supporting roles for actresses as well.

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The Hessian Renegades (1909) 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?
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Fun Size Review: Judex (1916)

Have a spare 5 hours? Sure you do! For this you do. Legendary French serial expert Louis Feuillade creates the crazy-addictive tale of a caped crusader, a vamping criminal mastermind and some really cute kids. Judex is a mysterious avenger out to right the wrongs performed by a corrupt banker. It starts with threatening notes and escalates to murder (or does it?). Fast, funny, exciting and highly addictive.

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Fun Size Review: Little Annie Rooney (1925)

Mary Pickford: Tenement kid, daughter of an Irish cop. William Haines: Big brother of her arch-rival and a would-be gangster. Mary loves William. He thinks she’s a kid. However, when he is framed for the murder of Mary’s father, she is the only one who can save him. Haines and Pickford are cute as proverbial bugs (could they be anything else?) but the thin plot does not use them to their full potential.

Continue reading “Fun Size Review: Little Annie Rooney (1925)”