The Beloved Blackmailer (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!

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Little Orphant Annie (1918) A Silent Film Review

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.

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M’Liss (1918) A Silent Film Review

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.
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Out West (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.
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Two-Gun Gussie (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.

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The Heart of Humanity (1918) A Silent Film Review

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.

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The Forbidden City (1918) A Silent Film Review

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.

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