Sam Robinson plays a ne’er-do-well who is on the run from the police and ends up in a Chinese laundry. Chaos obviously ensues and much laundry is destroyed in the process. A rare surviving comedy from the infamous Ebony Film Corporation.
A rich fellow goes to Egypt for some sightseeing and ends up with a bride, a tomb curse broken and a deranged stalker. How was your last vacation? Pola Negri and Emil Jannings play some Svengali-meets-Dracula by way of an Egyptian tomb.
Mabel Normand scored a smash hit with this feature-length comedy about a mining camp brat who goes to live in the big city. Chaos ensues but you knew that already.
Continue reading “Mickey (1918) A Silent Film Review”
What do you do if your boyfriend is a hopeless hypochondriac and his father is trying to bankrupt your family’s railroad? Well, you could hire pugilists to kidnap said boyfriend to get him into shape and then blackmail his dad into submission. Yeah, that sounds like a perfect plan for killing two birds with one stone and only a few felonies to commit!
A band of intrepid dreamers design and build a spaceship with the goal of an exploratory mission to Mars. What they discover is a shockingly peaceful culture for a planet named after the god of war. This pacifist film is often called the first space opera.
Real-life outlaw Al Jennings claimed the plot of this film was based on one of his exploits. I’ll leave it to the viewer to decide but there is no doubt that this is a valuable piece of film history and a rather rugged western to boot.
Appalachian moonshiners are the focus of this mini documentary. We are shown the life and habits of the folks making up the illicit spirit industry. Hic!
Note: The title is not a typo, I’m afraid. The United States was bitten by the twee bug circa 1880-1920 and this is the result. “Orphant” indeed! Sigh.
One of the earliest surviving Colleen Moore films, this cliched tale of an abused waif and her happy benefactors is based on a poem by James Whitcomb Riley. Heaven help us all.
A pair of siblings go on a magical journey accompanied by sentient kitchen objects (bread, sugar, milk, etc.) in search of the blue bird of happiness. Director Maurice Tourneur brings his usual visual flair to the proceedings.
When an English lord and lady find themselves stranded in the jungle, it’s only a matter of time before they die off and their infant son is raised by apes. The very first screen adaptation of the famous vine swinger stars Elmo Lincoln as Tarzan and Enid Markey as Jane.
Continue reading “Tarzan of the Apes (1918) A Silent Film Review”
It’s the story of a wayward wife/wicked step-mother. But, let’s face it, no one cares about that. We have all come to see a pre-fame Rudolph Valentino do his stuff on the silver screen. You know, look fabulous and play rough with the ladies. And does he ever.
Mary Pickford plays the title character in this wilderness curio. A wild youth living in a mining town with her father, the town drunk, M’Liss begins to appreciate civilization when she falls for the new schoolteacher, Thomas Meighan. Her life takes a turn for the tragic when her father is murdered and the crime is pinned on poor Mr. Meighan. It’s up to M’Liss (aided by the screen’s first Frankenstein monster, Charles Ogle) to save the hapless educator from a lynching.
Continue reading “M’Liss (1918) A Silent Film Review”
The comedy trio of Arbuckle, Keaton and St. John take on the western genre and the macho films of William S. Hart in particular. Chaos ensues as Arbuckle and Keaton team up to take down St. John’s obnoxious and lecherous bandit. A raucous adventure comedy with some rather dark bits (Keaton gleefully hides corpses in the floorboards), the short boasts some of the best chemistry in the business.
Continue reading “Out West (1918) A Silent Film Review”
Harold Lloyd heads out west and he takes co-star Bebe Daniels with him. Lloyd plays a wastrel jazz pianist who, through a photo mix-up, ends up with the reputation of being the most dangerous man in a small western town. Will the power go to his head? Of course it will! Bebe is on hand as a spunky miss and the object of our hero’s affections.
This is the story of five brothers and the woman they… Oh, who am I kidding? There is only one reason people watch this movie and it can be summed up in this little list: Erich von Stroheim + tall window + baby. You do the math. This propaganda rip-off was a smash hit when first released and may or may not have been what launched von Stroheim’s career as a director.
In a noirish narrative of guilt, conscience and self-absorption, Cecil B. DeMille takes us into the head of Raymond Hatton’s embezzler. Terrified of being caught, he manages to fake his own death but the long arm of the law and his own inner voices do not let him forget his crimes.
Mary Pickford tackles two roles in this Dickensian soaper. She is Stella Maris: beautiful, rich, innocent and paralyzed. She is also Unity Blake: plain, penniless, ignored and abused. Both girls love the same man but he is trapped in an abusive marriage. Will true love win? And whose true love?
Norma Talmadge and Thomas Meighan play an ill-fated interracial couple. When their secret marriage is discovered, Talmadge is executed by the Emperor of China for daring to marry a white man. Her daughter (also Talmadge) grows up and sets out to discover her American roots. A very, very odd film, full of outdated racial views and a rather icky father-daughter relationship.
Continue reading “The Forbidden City (1918) A Silent Film Review”