Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy share the screen as true co-stars for the first time in this long-lost comedy short. The boys play hobos who hide out in an empty mansion to evade a firefighting draft and then must deal with prospective renters. If this sounds familiar, it is. Laurel and Hardy remade it as Another Fine Mess.
Stan Laurel is hired by Priscilla Dean to romance her and make her husband jealous. Stan’s career as a lothario is hampered by the family butler (Oliver Hardy), a violent bully who intends to get rid of the interloper by any means necessary.
Lon Chaney plays a serial killer with two thumbs on one hand who hides out from the cops by posing as an armless knife-thrower in a traveling circus. He falls in love with Joan Crawford, who is afraid of men’s hands. After strangling her father, Chaney decides to cut off his own arms for real in order to win Crawford’s love, as one does. Chaos ensues. I did not make any of that up.
Continue reading “The Unknown (1927) A Silent Film Review”
A real forgotten gem of an adventure film! Rod La Rocque plays a Napoleonic swashbuckler who acts as the muscle for Phyllis Haver’s clever spy as she attempts to protect the emperor from a scheming Sam De Grasse. Look up the word “rollicking” in the dictionary and this movie will appear as the first example.
Continue reading “The Fighting Eagle (1927) A Silent Film Review”
In order to make his father look younger for his date, Lupino Lane consents to dressing up as a child. Things are complicated by the fact that the girl of his dreams just happens to be the daughter of his dad’s date—and she thinks he’s just a cute little boy.
This is part of the See You in the Fall Blogathon, be sure to check out the other great posts!
Continue reading “Naughty Boy (1927) A Silent Film Review”
Clara Bow goes Hawaiian in this Victor Fleming-directed rom-com. The target of Miss Bow’s affections is a very shocked (and very married) Clive Brook. The whole thing is pretty much an excuse to get Clara into grass skirts and wet frocks but she sells it.
Continue reading “Hula (1927) A Silent Film Review”
Housing shortages, wage theft, tax evasion… are these really subjects for comedy? They are to director Boris Barnet! Anna Sten plays a mischievous milliner who enters into a marriage of convenience with a homeless college student so that he can use her Moscow apartment. Of course, nothing works out the way they planned and matters are further complicated when Miss Sten becomes the proud owner of a winning lottery ticket.
Continue reading “The Girl with the Hat Box (1927) A Silent Film Review”
Marion Davies is a wacky Dutch maiden who dreams of romance. Of course, everything goes wrong in the zaniest way possible, that’s a given. Owen Moore is on hand as the Irish tourist who wins our heroine’s heart but Karl Dane and Louise Fazenda easily steal the show as the film’s secondary couple.
One of my favorite love stories! (What does this say about me?) She’s a sniper with forty kills to her name. He’s an enemy officer who is targeted as her forty-first. One missed shot later, the officer is not dead but a prisoner. Do I even need to say that a dark romance is in the offing? A gritty tale of revolution and class divide, this is a lesser-known picture from the legendary Yakov Protazanov, best remembered today for the pioneering Aelita, Queen of Mars.
Continue reading “The Forty-First (1927) A Silent Film Review”
Rosie is a girl living in New York who falls for Tom, the boy next door. Neither family is thrilled with the romance but what can you do when two crazy kids just want to fall in love? Well, in this case, the answer is to engage in slapstick and as many ethnic stereotypes as will fit into the runtime. This film is part of a very curious subgenre, one that helped create copyright law as we know it.
Bankrupt in New York? California, here we come! That, in a nutshell, is the plot of Rubber Tires, a romantic road comedy from the tail end of the silent era. Can our madcap family roll into Newhall in their battered flivver? Well, of course they can but getting there is (theoretically) all the fun.
Conrad Veidt is an illusionist who is in love with his assistant. Unfortunately, she falls for another, leaving Veidt in the dust. Now what will he do about that? Did I mention that he has an act that involves stabbing a trunk (and the person inside) with twelve sharp swords? You know, I think this just might figure into the story at some point.
Continue reading “The Last Performance (1929) A Silent Film Review”
He’s a Cossack prince. She’s the rabbi’s daughter. Can they find love? Also, the hero is a tad bit genocidal. Yes, that is the plot. The unusual duo of Mary Philbin and Ivan Mosjoukine (in his only Hollywood appearance) are star-crossed lovers in this Great War romance. It boasts superb cinematography but the story? Oh my. The main conflict: You always blackmail the one you love.
Pola Negri plays a hotel chambermaid who finds herself the accomplice of an Austrian officer trapped behind enemy lines. There are spies, an assassination and much skulking about the corridors of the titular hotel. This was one of the biggest Hollywood hits for both Negri and director Mauritz Stiller.
Continue reading “Hotel Imperial (1927) A Silent Film Review”
Think Chicago started as a 1970’s musical? Think again! The original play by Maurine Watkins was filmed twice before it was ever a musical, once as a silent and once as a talkie. Juicy though the story of murderesses and corruption was, the behind-the-scenes action was just as intriguing.
This long-lost John Ford film centers on a boarding house that is home to assorted stage actors, comedians and stuntmen. When one of their own gets asked to perform Hamlet in London, the boarding house gang is thrilled and sends him off joyously. But how will they react when success goes to his head?
Unfortunately, many films of the silent era have been lost. This new series is going to list some of the more interesting ones. We are going to start with a comedy from the late silent era.
Pola Negri hits it out of the park in this late silent war drama. She is a French farmer whose land is converted into a POW camp during WWI. Her hatred of Germans is slowly melted away by her discovery of common humanity… and by Clive Brook, a handsome prisoner. First class story of love and tolerance.
Continue reading “Barbed Wire (1927) A Silent Film Review”
This GIF sums up everything I like about John Barrymore’s swashbucklers. He was an incredibly handsome leading man and respected actor who was not afraid to act in a manner befitting a Wascally Wabbit.
When an innocent romance springs up between a lowly shop girl and an incognito chain-store heir, can it survive interfering parents, a hidden identity, and a secret engagement? This was Mary Pickford’s final silent film and she works opposite her future husband, Buddy Rogers.
John Barrymore plays Francois Villon, the medieval French poet/thief who runs afoul of the eccentric King Louis XI (Conrad Veidt). But when the kingdom is threatened by the Duke of Burgundy, it is up to Villon to save the day. Oh, and there is naturally a lovely damsel. The most fun you can have in the Douglas Fairbanks manner without actually having Douglas Fairbanks participating.
Continue reading “The Beloved Rogue (1927) A Silent Film Review”
Buddy comedies do not come better. During the Great War, two squabbling soldiers are captured by the Germans. They escape, rescuing an Arabian princess in the process. Cute film with a strong cast and a lively pace. One of the early silents produced by Howard Hughes.
Why do eccentric millionaires always do this? Die and leave strange wills, that is. This time around, a group of would-be heirs gather to see who gets the cash. Murder ensues. Laura La Plante is the heiress who must solve the mystery before she is permanently eliminated from the succession.