Fun Size Review: The Heart of Humanity (1918)

A real curio from the First World War, this movie is a ripoff of a D.W. Griffith film (the heroine spins and twirls and is a squirrel aficionado) with a heavy dose of Erich von Stroheim (as actor and uncredited assistant director) and his patented sleaze thrown in, making this a very strange film indeed. And, yes, this is the one where he tosses a baby out of a second floor window. Much like real war, moments of horror punctuate extreme boredom. Historically important but no picnic to get through.

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Fun Size Review: The Merry Widow (1925)

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Mae Murray is a brassy American gal who catches the eye of pretty much every eligible bachelor in a sleazy little Mittel-European city state. Erich von Stroheim’s most accessible film, it contains excellent performances from both Murray and leading man John Gilbert. In the minus column, von Stroheim’s tedious “sophistication” that, at a glance, is indistinguishable from that of a fourteen-year-old boy with his dad’s lad mags.

(You can read my full-length review here.)

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[toggler title=”How does it end? (click here for a spoiler)” ]Gilbert gets shot but not badly. He and Murray marry and she gets to be queen. I wonder if this is what gave Wallis Simpson notions.[/toggler]

If it were a dessert it would be:

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A Gold Leaf Sundae. Gaudy and gilded but at it’s core, it’s just chocolate ice cream. Still, chocolate ice cream, yum!

Availability: Warner Archive released a very nice print on DVD with a Lehar-infused score. The whole ball of wax.

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 Social Secretary (1916) A Silent Film Review

Mayme (Norma Talmadge) can’t keep a job. She’s far too pretty, you see, and the bosses won’t leave her alone. Meanwhile, the de Puyster family can’t keep a secretary. They’re far too pretty and get married. You can see where this one is going. Erich von Stroheim supports as a paparazzo. Light-hearted fun but questionable gender politics.
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