Gypsy Blood (1918) A Silent Film Review

One of Pola Negri’s earliest collaborations with Ernst Lubitsch and a major critical and commercial hit for them both, this film tells the famous tale of Carmen and her doomed romance. How will our dynamic duo make this story their own? Negri’s signature combination of sexiness, warmth and humor is on full display at this early date but the Lubitsch touch is still in its infancy.

Continue reading “Gypsy Blood (1918) A Silent Film Review”

You’ve got me dancing on the table! Animated GIF

merry-jail-lubitch-mizi-dancing

First of all, a big “THANK YOU!” to all the talented participants of the ongoing Snoopathon. You are wonderful and I couldn’t have done it without you.

The GIF is from Lubitsch’s The Merry Jail (review here) and the dancer is Agda Nielson, who plays Mizi, a very naughty maid who has stolen her mistress’s gown and crashed a royal ball. Her unfortunate tablemate is an inebriated rich fella who is her target for gold digging. I love Mizi because she is just so happy.

Recommended

Fun Size Review: The Doll (1919)

doll

Ernst Lubitsch wows again with a surreal bit of comedy concerning a determined bachelor who buys a doll to pose as his wife, thus avoiding actually having to marry. The only problem is that the doll is a live woman, comedy star Ossi Oswalda. So we have a woman posing as a doll posing as a woman. Raucous, joyous and more than a little strange, this early Lubitsch is an unparalleled delight.

[toggler title=”How does it end? (click for a spoiler)” ]Our bachelor finally figures out that Ossi is real and falls in love with her, which is very convenient as they are already married.[/toggler]

If it were a dessert it would be:

via sweetsugarbelle.com
via sweetsugarbelle.com

Robot and Sprocket Cookies. Who says machines can’t be cute and tasty?

Read my full-length review here.

Recommended

A lady always kisses a gentleman’s hand… oh, wait… Animated GIF

merry-jail-1917-kiss-a-gent's-hand

Agda Nielson’s spunky maid, Mizi, steals the film in Lubitsch’s The Merry Jail. The clever girl borrows her mistress’s evening gown and crashes a party being held by a Russian prince. She hopes to fill up on champagne, foie gras and maybe even catch herself a rich lover. Of course, Mizi succeeds brilliantly but there are a few missteps. For example, she guesses at the proper response to the prince kissing her hand…

(The movie is available as an extra on the Criterion release of Trouble in Paradise.)

Recommended

What do you say to Mommy? Animated GIF

doll-ernst-lubitsch-ossi-oswalda-silent-movie-animated-speak-to-mommy

The unexpected benefits of posing as an automaton: You can be as snotty as you like and no one can do anything about it. I mean, what are they going to do? Punish a machine?

Ossi Oswalda is truly delightful in Ernst Lubitsch’s 1919 comedy The Doll. I highly recommend it, especially if you have only seen the darker German offerings of this period. Lubitsch’s saucy offerings will surely delight.

Availability

Released both digitally and on DVD by Kino-Lorber and available for purchase in the U.S.

Fun Size Review: The Wildcat (1921)

wildcat

Pola Negri and Ernst Lubitsch team up once again in the deranged comedy that sends up romance, adventure and Hollywood. Pola is a bandit girl. Paul Heidemann is a ladykiller army officer. She captures him and steals his pants. He chases her all over a Dr. Suess-ian fortress. Oh, it’s a mad film. A little too mad, in fact. But Pola has never been more fun!

If it were a dessert it would be:

(via Pillsbury)

Trix Cereal Crunch Cake. Loud, zany and slightly psychedelic. May induce headaches on some days. On others, it may be just what the doctor ordered.

Click here to read my full-length review.

Fun Size Review: The Oyster Princess (1919)

Russian poster for the film (via Tumblr)
Russian poster for the film (via Tumblr)

The plot in one sentence: Daddy, buy me a prince right now!

Ossi Oswalda is a nouveau riche American girl who is determined to marry into German nobility. Harry Liedtke is a penniless prince hounded by creditors. It should be simple but director Ernst Lubitsch has other plans! Slightly naughty but mostly nice, this clever romantic comedy is one of the gems of German cinema.

If it were a dessert it would be:

(via foodnetwork.com)

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes. Cute confection improved immeasurably by the addition of booze.

Read my full-length review here.

You can totally trust us because we are really honest and not at all trying to cheat you. Animated GIF

doll-ernst-lubitsch-ossi-oswalda-silent-movie-animated-trust-us

Come on, who wouldn’t trust these guys?

Me, that’s who! I wouldn’t trust them. They couldn’t look less trustworthy if they were selling used cars!

These scheming gentlemen are from The Doll and they are indeed up to no good. In fact, they are conspiring to steal the hero’s fortune. Ernst Lubitsch does it again in this delightful 1919 comedy.

(You can read my full review of the film here.)

Availability

Released both digitally and on DVD by Kino-Lorber and available for purchase in the U.S.

The Doll (1919) A Silent Film Review

Ernst Lubitsch directs this fractured fairy tale concerning a coddled young man who wants to avoid marriage at all costs– and he is willing to purchase an elaborate mechanical doll to pose as his wife. Petite charmer Ossi Oswalda co-stars as both the doll and the live girl it was modeled after. When the doll is accidentally broken, Ossi must take its place at the wedding. I can’t possibly imagine anything going wrong with this scenario.
Continue reading “The Doll (1919) A Silent Film Review”

Silent Take: The Princess Bride circa 1928

It’s baaack! Another modern movie re-imagined as a silent. This time, it’s The Princess Bride and it is taking a little trip back to 1928. If you have only seen Mary Astor and William Powell in the talkies, you may be interested to know that in the silents, she was often the dainty princess and he was often a sneering villain. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. did not try his hand at swashbuckling until 1937’s Prisoner of Zenda (Astor was in that one too) but I crave your indulgence because I think he is a perfect Westley.

Continue reading “Silent Take: The Princess Bride circa 1928”

“Always dust her well” Animated GIF

doll-ernst-lubitsch-ossi-oswalda-silent-movie-animated-dust-her-well

It’s early Lubitsch but his touch is there, right down to the clever intertitles. After all, this is what every father says when he is sending off his only child, right?

Background: In The Doll, dollmaker Hilarius has just inadvertently sold his daughter to a customer. She was taking the place of a broken model for a demonstration but Hermann Thimig was so pleased that he bought the mechanical woman on the spot. Obviously, chaos ensues.

Availability

Released both digitally and on DVD by Kino-Lorber and available for purchase in the U.S.

The Oyster Princess (1919) A Silent Film Review

Ossi’s father is the Oyster King of America and she has decided that she deserves nothing less than a  European prince. Nucki is the penniless prince in question but a few cases of mistaken identity later, all plans are in shambles. Hidden amongst the the wacky hijinks is some pointed social commentary courtesy of director Ernst Lubitsch.

Continue reading “The Oyster Princess (1919) A Silent Film Review”