An intense and controversial picture that deals with racism, lynching, crime and melodrama, this is the earliest surviving feature film from pioneering director Oscar Micheaux. Not an easy film to watch but a necessary one.
Looking for something different in American silent film? How about a film shot in Oklahoma with an all-Kiowa and Comanche cast? Thought lost for decades, The Daughter of Dawn was recently recovered and restored.
Continue reading “The Daughter of Dawn (1920) A Silent Film Review”
Babe Ruth stars in this highly fictionalized and idealized biopic of his early life. Not a word of it is true but it is not without its corny charm.
Continue reading “Headin’ Home (1920) A Silent Film Review”
Nightclub queen Texas Guinan made a series of westerns in the 1910s and 1920s. We’re going to be looking at her adventures in ranching as she tries to save her kid sister, Waco, from bandits. (Waco?) Much action and shooty-bang stuff.
In a grisly tale of madness and murder, the dismembered body… Just funnin’ ya! The title is a bit deceptive as it is a picture of a woman that ends up in a suitcase. The plot can best be described as The Women meets The Parent Trap as Enid Bennett plays detective and tries to track down her father’s mistress to save her family.
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After losing another of the only girls he ever loved, Harold Lloyd decides to end it all. That doesn’t work out so well but another proposition turns up. Mildred Davis is a young lady who needs a husband in order to qualify for her inheritance, an old southern mansion. The problem is that the mansion has some other residents of a… ghostly persuasion.
Lon Chaney as we know him really arrived with the release of this movie. It has everything we love about him: impressive makeup, criminal mischief, madness, murder and scenery chewed with rare abandon. Who wouldn’t want to see a movie about a double amputee criminal mastermind who plans to take over San Francisco with a gang of anarchists wearing stylish straw hats?
Continue reading “The Penalty (1920) A Silent Film Review”
William S. Hart is back in the saddle with one of his most villainous roles. He plays a bandit betrayed by his own lieutenant and out for revenge. We have holdups, posses and plenty of brooding between the action scenes. In short, a Hart film.
A beggar, a caliph and a bandit find themselves enmeshed in a very strange adventure. Secret romances, revenge and murder all play a part. With a scruffy protagonist and the love story pushed to the background, you can think of this as the un-Sheik of silent films.
A real rarity for Chaney fans: Our beloved monster plays a straightforward leading man. Lon Chaney and Betty Blythe are a pair of Canadian lovebirds who must flee when he is framed for murder. Lewis Stone plays the Mountie charged with bringing Chaney to justice. And he won’t give up because as the Hollywood Mounties say: “We always get our man!”
John Barrymore takes on the double role of the kindly doctor and his horrible alter ego. This adaptation is Stevenson with a pinch of Wilde thrown in for good measure. This was the film that finally made Barrymore a movie star to match his acclaim on the stage. And the makeup! The makeup!
Continue reading “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) A Silent Film Review”
One of the most analyzed silent films. One of the most watched silent films. One of the most famous silent films. What else is there to be said about The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari? Well, I’m giving it a shot. We’re going to see if we can unravel the mystery of the film’s meaning. A daunting task? Only slightly.
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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White Almond Flower (Clarine Seymour) is a flapper-ish island girl who just can’t choose between a sickly missionary (Creighton Hale) and an atheist beach bum (Richard Barthelmess). Will WAF be “civilized” or will she be free to continue her moonlight idolatry? D.W. Griffith directs this tale of religion, the nature of civilization and shimmy-shimmy shakes.
Continue reading “The Idol Dancer (1920) A Silent Film Review”
William S. Hart trades his Stetson for a blue policeman’s hat in this gangland drama. Hart is a safecracker-turned-cop who finds himself at odds with his larcenous family and targeted by a former business partner. But, as we all know, Hart is not someone to be trifled with.
Continue reading “The Cradle of Courage (1920) A Silent Film Review”
Director D.W. Griffith attempts to showcase his protegee, Carol Dempster, in this ocean-themed crime drama. An accused murderer is hiding out on a South Sea island with his daughter. The long arm of the law is closing in. How far will she go to make sure that her dear old dad stays free?
Continue reading “The Love Flower (1920) A Silent Film Review”
It’s Gloria Swanson’s turn to be the offending party in this DeMille marital comedy. She is a lovely young prude who moralizes her husband right into the waiting arms of another woman. Only then does Gloria realize that she has made a mistake and a little romance helps in marriage. Armed with this knowledge- and a wild wardrobe- she sets out to win back her man.
Director D.W. Griffith dives back into country melodrama with this adaptation of a hoary stage smash. Lillian Gish plays Anna, a country girl seduced and abandoned by a rich cad. The resulting baby dies and Anna is alone in the world. She meets the kindly Bartlett family and it seems that her life is taking a turn for the better… that is until her past is exposed.
Con artists and deep sea divers collide in this Thomas Ince-produced adventure yarn. Hobart Bosworth is a diver trying to save his son from the clutches of a scheming city woman who wants to use his diving abilities to make a fortune in ill-gotten gains. This is one of the best silent dramas you have never heard of.