Readers of this site know that I love me some Ivan Mosjoukine and I think he was a pretty talented fellow. But even the best of us make mistakes and Mosjoukine made a big one with this pretentious mess.
Ivan Mosjoukine, one of the greatest actors in silent film, plays Edmund Kean, one of the greatest actors of Regency England. It’s all very stylish and European but perhaps a bit much for first-time silent viewers.
Ivan Mosjoukine wrote, directed and starred in this dramedy about a wealthy playboy whose life is turned upside-down when he discovers a baby boy on his doorstep. We all know where this is going but getting there is all the fun.
The time has come, the walrus said, to talk about opening scenes, those iconic moments that kicked off great films. Star Wars (1977) started things off with a literal bang, its heroes on the run from a gargantuan, relentless enemy. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) kept its bangs in check until the end of the scene and contented itself with a rusty windmill and three bored killers. Yojimbo (1961) set the stage with Masaru Sato’s cocky score and a shot of Toshiro Mifune’s shoulders swinging as he walked down a dusty road.
Ivan Mosjoukine steps off the deep end in this genre mishmash. He plays a Tibetan prince who must flee his country and ends up in Paris where he becomes a film star. Speaking of stars, there is also a plot twist that we are most familiar with in Star Wars.
Love! Honor! Furry hats! Intense staring! I think we have some Russians in the house.
While serials have the reputation (sometimes deserved) of being sloppy affairs, this French-Russian series turns the genre into art. Gorgeous cinematography, imaginative stunts, genuine suspense and an enthralling plot lift this serial head and shoulders above the competition.
This joyful, sassy romantic comedy is the perfect choice for people who do not usually go in for romantic comedies. A Russian girl named Parasha sneaks her soldier boyfriend (Ivan Mosjoukine) into her house by disguising him as the new cook. Chaos obviously ensues.
Readers ask me which silent movie is my all-time favorite. This is it. It’s based on a novel by Jules Verne, an undisputed master of adventure fiction. It stars Ivan Mosjoukine, who flourishes in masculine, intense roles. It borrows the army of Latvia for the battle scenes. Come on, you have to see this!
Ivan Mosjoukine takes the title role in this biopic of legendary English Shakespearean actor Edmund Kean, whose brilliance on the stage was undercut by his eccentric and self-destructive personal life. Yet another example of the astonishing films being made by the Russian emigres who fled their country’s political turmoil for the relative safety of Paris.
I hate this movie so much that I almost can’t write about it. I hate it because the love story is creepy and horrible. I hate it because the hero of the tale is a genocidal rapist and that is portrayed as a-okay in the story. Most of all, I hate it because the talent of Ivan Mosjoukine is wasted on utter dreck. (This was his only American film.) It’s about a Cossack who falls for the rabbi’s daughter (Mary Philbin, hoo boy) and threatens to burn the local Jewish populace alive if she doesn’t sleep with him. Excuse me while I go punch something.
Do you like detective stories? Do you like quirky comedy? Do you like really, really, really quirky comedy? Then this is the movie for you!
Ivan Mosjoukine plays a dashing officer who wants to make time with his girlfriend. Her strict mother will not hear of it and so the young lovers come up with a plan. Mosjoukine shaves his mustache, slips into a dress and gets hired as the family’s new cook. A delightfully zany farce based on a poem by Pushkin.
Continue reading “The House in Kolomna (1913) 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.
The House of Mystery is one of the most exciting silent film releases to come along in ages. This serial has been knocking ’em dead on the film festival circuit for a while but this is the first time it has been available to the general public since its release over ninety years ago. And don’t let the word “serial” put you off. Instead, think of The House of Mystery as a very fine miniseries, the kind that sweeps award shows.
Framed for murder! Sentenced to a penal colony! Some guys can’t catch a break. This smart serial was made in France by Russian expats and the blending of the national styles produces some very fine entertainment. Pull up a bowl of popcorn, maybe some candy and get ready. It’s a long motion picture but I guarantee a rousing good time.
Continue reading “The House of Mystery (1923) A Silent Film Review”
One of the finest, best-acted and most beautiful mega-epics ever made, Michael Strogoff has catapulted to the top of my favorites list. The compliment is not given lightly. Jules Verne’s red-blooded Siberian adventure comes to life in a lavish screen adaptation. Massive in scale, the film still manages to keep sight of its humanity. It also boasts imaginative editing, skillful performances, innovative camera work and gorgeous tinting and stencil color.
Continue reading “Michael Strogoff (1926) 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.
What a dramatic title! Is it about Salem witch trials? The horrors of war? Terrors unknown? Nope! It is the wacky tale of a wandering wife called Elle and the mysterious detective known only as Z, who has been charged with returning her affections to her husband. One of the oddest and most stylish films of the silent era and pretty funny to boot.
Continue reading “The Burning Crucible (1923) A Silent Film Review”
Concerning the lives and loves of a small Russian village, this little gem has been all but forgotten. Gorgeous scenery, heartfelt performances and an intriguing look at a time and place that were about to disappear forever, this movie deserves rediscovery.
Continue reading “The Peasants’ Lot (1912) A Silent Film Review”
This is an overview of the box set itself. I will be reviewing the films in the set individually at a later date.
What is it?: A box set of five film created by talented Russians who fled the revolution and settled in France. It features three films that star Ivan Mosjoukine, who was enormously popular in Europe and whose French work has never before been widely available to US audiences. (Mosjoukine’s first and only American film, Surrender, was not really the best showcase for his talents.)
Who released it? Flicker Alley
Le Brasier Ardent (The Burning Crucible), 1923
Feu Mathias Pascal (The Late Mathias Pascal), 1925
Les Nouveaux Messieurs, 1928
Packaging: The discs are held in a plastic multi-disc case inside a cardboard slipcover. The set also includes a 28-page color booklet detailing the films and featuring vintage stills and marketing materials. I should note that the discs were loose in their case when they arrived but they were not scratched.
Navigation: Each disc has a simple, easy-to-navigate menu. Nothing fancy (thank goodness!) just functionality.
Music: Each film is scored by a different accompanist. The Burning Crucible by Neil Brand, Kean by Robert Israel, The Late Mathias Pascal by Timothy Brock, Gribiche by The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra and The New Gentlemen by Antonio Coppola.
Notes: The films are presented with original French intertitles and optional English subtitles.
This box set contains films that have been on the wishlists of movie buffs for some time. I am looking forward to reviewing them.
Availability: Currently available on DVD.