A jealous husband, a flirtatious wife, a quartet of lusty dinner guests and a shadow puppeteer… This is going to be an eventful evening. The film is a stylized marvel with plenty of the dark stuff we expect in German cinema.
Fritz Lang creates a paranoid and deadly world of spy vs. spy in this fun genre picture. Willy Fritsch plays No. 326, an unnamed agent who is charged with bringing down a sophisticated network of spies, assassins and saboteurs led by Rudolf Klein-Rogge.
Director E.A. Dupont’s flashy tale of revenge, jealousy and murder made the entire world go mad for the unchained camera (courtesy of cinematographer Karl Freund) and the intense performance of Emil Jannings. Sliced to ribbons by the censors upon its initial release, Variety has recently been restored to more or less complete form.
Continue reading “Variety (1925) A Silent Film Review”
Ivan Mosjoukine, Betty Amann, and Lil Dagover directed by Alexandre Volkoff in a Tolstoy adaptation? Who do I have to kill? No one, as it turns out. This is the cast and director of The White Devil, one of the last major silent films to be produced in Germany.
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”
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”
What do you get when you mix a partying husband, a wily wife, a sassy maid and a night in jail? Well, when Ernst Lubitsch directs, you get a zany comedy of marriage and romance. Much wilder and broad than his later work, this early film has plenty to offer.
Continue reading “The Merry Jail (1917) 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”
One of the most analyzed silent films. One of the most watched silent films. One of the most famous silent films. What else is there to be said about The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari? Well, I’m giving it a shot. We’re going to see if we can unravel the mystery of the film’s meaning. A daunting task? Only slightly.
Pola Negri stars as Rischka, the wildcat of the title. She is the leader of a gang of bandits. Their latest victim is Alexis, a caddish military officer on his way to his new post. Rischka and Alexis embark on a mad courtship leaving chaos in their wake. Director Ernst Lubitsch creates onscreen havoc that has rarely been equaled since.
Continue reading “The Wildcat (1921) 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.
A young author (Wilhelm Dieterle) is hired by the owner of a wax museum to write tales about his most popular figures, Haroun al Raschid, Ivan the Terrible and Jack the Ripper. Entranced by his new boss’s pretty daughter (Olga Belajeff) the author sets to work writing about the wax figures. With each new story, the author and his new friend find themselves pulled inside the progressively nightmarish worlds that he has invented.
Continue reading “Waxworks (1924) A Silent Film Review”
The Maharajah of Bengal wants his wife to have the most fabulous tomb in the world. He hires an English architect to design and constructs it. There’s just one little problem. His wife is not dead. Yet. This is a classy adventure yarn with a strong Teutonic flavor. Well worth obtaining.
Continue reading “The Indian Tomb (1921) A Silent Film Review”