A U.S. Army lieutenant stationed at a frontier fort decides to battle his boredom constructively by holding up the stagecoach for a giggle. Things take a serious turn when the stage is held up for real. That’ll teach him.Continue reading “Ranson’s Folly (1926) A Silent Film Review”
Mutt and Jeff find themselves in pursuit of the Phantom, a non-corporeal trickster who leads them on a very strange chase.
Charley Chase’s mother has just remarried but she hasn’t told her new husband about her adult son. Charley poses as his step-father’s valet and, of course, chaos ensues, especially when the new maid (Martha Sleeper) gets in on the act.
A miller loses his livelihood and self-respect when he descends into alcoholism, egged on by his business partner who just happens to own the local bar. A rare chance to see a performance by Charles Gilpin and one of only two films made by the Colored Players Film Corporation of Philadelphia to survive.
Raymond Griffith tries his hand at historical comedy. He plays a spy trying to intercept a gold shipment but must deal with an enemy officer and two distractions: a blonde and a brunette.
Harry Langdon is a little Belgian soldier who comes to America to find his pen pal. How hard can it be to find a Mary Brown in 1926? He just has to get through gangsters, bootleggers and the common cold to locate her. Langdon at his best.
Reginald Denny and Laura La Plante play a couple hoping to raise their standard of living. When Denny lies about a raise, La Plante goes shopping and all is well until the repo man comes calling. A perfectly delightful domestic comedy.
Leatrice Joy plays a woman whose fiancé is more interested in unearthing 5,000-year-old mummies than in dating her. Instead of dumping the dude, she mopes and has historical flashbacks. So there.
The Panama Canal’s construction was a cause for celebration in the United States but Colombia had a very different viewpoint and this intriguing film presents it in no uncertain terms.
A fake psychic is making a fortune bilking the gullible with his house o’ special effects but he never counted on a gang of cute little kids stumbling onto his operation. Our Gang comedy with a high dose of Farina.
Douglas Fairbanks plays a vengeful nobleman who disguises himself as a pirate in order to take down bad guys and save a princess. It’s Swashbuckling 101 stuff but Fairbanks has a secret weapon: Technicolor!
A cowpoke (who may or may not be named Steve) wanders into a whole heap of melodrama when he saves an uncredited Fay Wray from a caddish brute (or brutish cad). Solid western from Universal’s Mustang line.
Continue reading “Four-Square Steve (1926) A Silent Film Review”
Raymond Griffith plays a coroner called to the scene of a murder most foul, which just ruins his plans to spend the evening at the theater. When the search for the killer turns out to be more complicated than he had expected, he must use every trick in the book to reveal the culprit.
When a railroad paymaster and the $25,000 in cash he was carrying disappear, returning WWI ace Billy Stokes is put on the case. This independent feature has an all African-American cast and is the only complete surviving feature of the Norman Film Manufacturing Company, a Florida-based studio that specialized in so-called race films.
Vera Reynolds and Julia Faye are a couple of manicurists who end up going “over there” during the First World War. Naturally, army life is more dangerous than either of them imagined.
As everyone knows, posh boys in silent films love nothing better than to marry bareback riders, trapeze artists and the like. In this case, a surgeon with daddy issues falls for an acrobat with double daddy issues. Seems to me that everything could have been solved with some therapy sessions.
Continue reading “Christine of the Big Tops (1926) A Silent Film Review”
Bessie Love is an American college girl who discovers that she is the heiress to a fortune in an obscure little kingdom. While enjoying a last fling in Paris before her inevitable arranged marriage, she runs in Joseph Schildkraut, who is also enjoying a last fling in Paris before his inevitable arranged marriage. I wonder what will come of this.
Continue reading “Young April (1926) A Silent Film Review”
Harry Langdon is a hapless doughboy who does not realize the First World War has ended (he escaped from a POW camp during an armistice celebration) and means to continue the battle in the middle of a Central Europe. As it happens the ruler of this particular country looks just like Harry. Hmm, I wonder what will come of this?
Continue reading “Soldier Man (1926) A Silent Film Review”
Rod La Rocque takes on Fairbanks in this incredibly strange pirate spoof. Mildred Harris is an heiress on the run when it turns out that the only copy of a valuable document is written on her back. Snitz Edwards is her evil uncle and spends the movie chasing her with a sponge. And then Rod and Mildred inadvertently declare war on the United States… Yeah, it’s a strange one.
Continue reading “The Cruise of the Jasper B (1926) A Silent Film Review”
Chronically unfunny “comedian” George K. Arthur plays a boob (in the bumpkin sense, not the anatomical one) who loses his best girl to a smooth bootlegger. Chaos ensues but the main draw is a very young Joan Crawford as the federal agent on the case.
The citizens are terrified! The police are baffled! A costumed criminal known as The Bat has been stalking the city, stealing and murdering with impunity. And a now missing suitcase of money is said to be hidden in an isolated manor house. Do I even need to add that it is a dark and stormy night? This looks like a job for… Jack Pickford?
She’s a sophisticated English girl. He’s a rough-hewn Canadian wheat farmer. She needs a place to go. He needs a wife to help out at the farm. They soon find themselves in a marriage of convenience and then things take a turn for the dark. Underrated upon its initial release, this film has started to build quite a reputation for itself since its rediscovery.
Continue reading “The Canadian (1926) A Silent Film Review”
One of the finest, best-acted and most beautiful mega-epics ever made, Michael Strogoff has catapulted to the top of my favorites list. The compliment is not given lightly. Jules Verne’s red-blooded Siberian adventure comes to life in a lavish screen adaptation. Massive in scale, the film still manages to keep sight of its humanity. It also boasts imaginative editing, skillful performances, innovative camera work and gorgeous tinting and stencil color.
Continue reading “Michael Strogoff (1926) A Silent Film Review”
Poor Charley Chase! He plays Mr. Moose, who is curses with a hideous set of teeth. His wife is equally homely, the owner of a ridiculous schnoz. Two separate sessions of secret plastic surgery later, both husband and wife are knockouts and they immediately decide to have a fling… with each other!
Mary Pickford dusts off her pigtails one last time in her final child role. One of her darkest films, Sparrows tells the tale of a band of orphans who escape from an orphan farm and cross a dangerous gator-infested swamp. A surprisingly moody slice of Southern Gothic from America’s Sweetheart.
Think of this story as Aladdin: Expanded Universe. The tale concerns all the usual Arabian Nights ingredients: princes, lamps, djinn, snakes, caves, enchanted birds… What makes it significant is the way it is presented: via the dainty silhouette figures created by Lotte Reiniger.
Vilma Banky takes on the title role of this Western-set tale of settlers, dams, floods and legal shenanigans. Banky is the prettiest girl in Imperial county. Ronald Colman is the corporate raider from the east who falls for her. A very young Gary Cooper is the local boy who hopes to win her heart. So, just who does win Barbara Worth?
Continue reading “The Winning of Barbara Worth (1926) A Silent Film Review”
Lionel Barrymore is Mathias, a kindly Alsatian innkeeper who is being crushed by debt. Unable to deny his friends loans or his loving daughter small luxuries, Mathias is on the edge of destitution. When a rich man stops briefly at the inn (with a fortune in gold on his person), Mathias drunkenly robs and murders him. All his problems are solved. Except for that little thing called a conscience…
Continue reading “The Bells (1926) A Silent Movie Review”
John Barrymore takes on the role of one of history’s great lovers. Raised to be a libertine, Don Juan romances his way across Europe until he ends up in Rome and runs into something completely different: a nice girl (Mary Astor). Unfortunately, she is promised in marriage to a Borgia. I think a little action is called for.
Continue reading “Don Juan (1926) A Silent Film Review”
Think silent movies are dusty? Meet Clara! The divine Miss Bow is a pretty city girl who winds up married to a stodgy Canadian trapper. Then a city man shows up and starts a flirtation with our bored little flapper. He gets more than he bargained for. Basically, this is the most fun you can legally have at the movies.
Continue reading “Mantrap (1926) A Silent Film Review”