Alfred Hitchcock’s triumphant return to murder and mayhem is both his final silent film and his first talkie. Anny Ondra plays a nice kid who stabs a guy to death in his bed. These things happen. Originally conceived as a silent film, Hitchcock made it a talkie with reshoots and a new voice for his Czech leading lady.
Rod La Rocque is a playboy who falls for a winsome aviatrix (Billie Dove) in this part-talkie romantic comedy. Based on a story by Elinor Glyn, the film gives us a contract marriage, a saucy dance sequence with a giant swimming tank on the ballroom floor and some very wild flying. Roaring twenties indeed.
He’s a naïve Berlin cop. She’s a streetwise thief. Yup. Romance. But we’re in this for the Weimar gutter glamor and this film delivers in spades. One of the last great silent films to come out of the German industry, Asphalt is also a revelation for anyone who has not seen the work of director Joe May.
Continue reading “Asphalt (1929) A Silent Film Review”
Laurel and Hardy gets jobs at a swanky hotel and they perform them with precision and competence. Hee hee! Nope! They make a dog’s dinner of the whole thing and a good number of extras and supporting actors end up either face down in the mud or with what we like to call a wardrobe malfunction. One of the victims is a teenage, pre-fame Jean Harlow.
Eleanor Boardman plays a spoiled socialite who volunteers to assist the troops in war torn France. The rigors of war soon toughen her up but there are bigger challenges ahead. When her fiancé turns coward and gets drunk before a big operation, she puts on a uniform and takes his place on the battlefield. Can the society girl survive the horrors or war—or the attentions of Al St. John? Wait, Al St. John?
Continue reading “She Goes to War (1929) A Silent Film Review”
There’s a rumble at Hollywood High: George Duryea leading Team Christians vs. Lina Basquette leading Team Atheists. It’s all fun and games until the argument turns into a riot and someone gets killed. Our junior fanatics are sent to reform school. Shocking brutality ensues, as does romance. A genre mashup from Cecil B. DeMille at his mashiest.
Here’s a movie that no one really wanted to make. Its production was troubled from the very beginning. From professional spats to last-minute recuts and reshoots, it had disaster written across it. So how did this hellish production end up as one of the most iconic and memorable horror films of all time? Does it live up to its reputation? Is it worth seeing for the casual viewer? We are going to engage in a little silent movie archaeology in order to find out.
The oft-filmed tale of an Englishman who is branded a coward and spends the rest of the film proving that he most assuredly is not. This version (released at the height of the sound transition) was one of the very last silent movie hits. It also features William Powell and Fay Wray before they hit the big time and it is directed by a couple of guys mostly known for making a film about a really big ape…
Continue reading “The Four Feathers (1929) A Silent Film Review”
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”
The tale of an emotionally unstable barber who allows his romantic jealousy to consume him and… Advice to fellas: Don’t let the weird guy who is pining after your girlfriend give you a shave with a straight razor. Just saying. One of Anthony Asquith’s earliest films and one of Britain’s last silents. A suspenseful tale with atmosphere to burn and some very powerful performances in the mix.
The surprisingly sympathetic tale of a Navajo man, Wing Foot (Richard Dix), who was taken from his family as a boy and raised in a boarding school. Insulted and referred to as “Redskin” by his college peers, Wing Foot also finds that he no longer fits in with his family, especially his extremely traditional father. Will Wing Foot be able to bridge the gap between the culture of his birth and the culture in which he was raised?
Continue reading “Redskin (1929) A Silent Film Review”
Comedian Lupino Lane plays every last part in this comedy short. The plot? A tipsy, top-hatted fellow and a really horrible child manage to disrupt an evening at the music hall. The material is old but Lane manages to keep things fun.
Continue reading “Only Me (1929) A Silent Film Review”
Holmes Herbert stars as Count Merlin, a faux-mystic with a painful past. His wife left him for another man and took their daughter with her. Now, decades later, he has caught up with her. When the unfaithful wife turns up dead, Merlin is the prime suspect. He must use his gifts of disguise and deception to clear his name.
Continue reading “The Charlatan (1929) A Silent Film Review”