I feel nothing but contempt and disgust for this film. Not only does it lift its finale from my favorite silent film (Michael Strogoff) but people dash around squeaking about how AMAAAAAZING and creative that Cossacks finale is. No, I will not calm down.
I have a bone to pick with this film but I think I’ll have to get in line behind its star, John Gilbert, its screenwriter, Frances Marion, and one of its ex-directors, Victor Tourjansky. MGM’s attempt to simultaneously film Leo Tolstoy and Jules Verne results in a rather uneven picture that plunges into plagiarism. Wheeee!
Continue reading “The Cossacks (1928) A Silent Film Review”
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.
[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:
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.
Charles Ray stars as a bush league pitcher who makes it big and heads to the city. He leaves behind his girlfriend, Colleen Moore, but it looks like his arch-rival, played by a very young John Gilbert, is ready to step in to replace him. Will our hero realize what is most important before it is too late?
Continue reading “The Busher (1919) A Silent Film Review”
Erich von Stroheim turned his singular talents to a classic operetta and the resulting film was the biggest hit of his career. It’s all about central European royalty (natch), an empty treasury and an extremely wealthy widow. I can’t imagine what will come of this.
Continue reading “The Merry Widow (1925) A Silent Film Review”
Here is a lovely image from 1925 (published in Photoplay) of Leatrice Joy posing with Leatrice, Jr. Little Leatrice’s father was, of course, John Gilbert.
A quick note on the name that mother and daughter share. According to IMDB, Leatrice was going to be Beatrice until her mother remembered that her baby’s father had an old flame named Beatrice. So, she went down the alphabet until she found a letter that would change the name but keep the basic sound.
Leatrice, Sr. was a charming comedienne and one of the most stylish women of the silent screen. If you want to see the twenties roar, she is your girl.
Leatrice, Jr. would go on the be an author and one of her father’s staunchest defenders. She was instrumental in debunking the pernicious myth that John Gilbert’s career died because he had a funny voice. Hats off to her!