Fun Size Review: The Fighting Eagle (1927)

The swashbuckling genre is not noted for its progressive treatment of women. Even ladies who take up arms must either be damseled by the finale or die in order to make way for a more “proper” love interest.  That’s why The Fighting Eagle is such a breath of fresh air.

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The Fighting Eagle (1927) A Silent Film Review

A real forgotten gem of an adventure film! Rod La Rocque plays a Napoleonic swashbuckler who acts as the muscle for Phyllis Haver’s clever spy as she attempts to protect the emperor from a scheming Sam De Grasse. Look up the word “rollicking” in the dictionary and this movie will appear as the first example.
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Fun Size Review: Chicago (1927)

Before it was a musical, Chicago was a silent film and a rather saucy one at that. Phyllis Haver is on fire as the heartless Roxie Hart, who shoots her lover and spends the rest of the film gaming the legal system to get off scot-free. It’s all very roaring but some concessions to the censors reduce its bite. However, it is still a smashing bit of twenties fun from Cecil B. DeMille, the uncredited director.

chicago-1927-this-is-a-decent-jail

[toggler title=”How does it end? (click here for spoilers)” ]Roxie does get off but the press deserts her for a newer, more exciting murderess. Roxie’s husband dumps her for a nicer girl. Roxie is free but alone.[/toggler]

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

If it were a dessert it would be:

deep fried oreo

A deep-fried Oreo. No one pretends it is health food but no one claims it is health food. Just sit back and enjoy the naughtiness.

Availability: Chicago received DVD release from Flicker Alley. The two-disc set includes a crisp, beautifully restored print of the film, as well as two documentaries on the 1920s, along with other goodies.

She always plays peekaboo… right before she shoots you. Animated GIF

chicago-1927-roxie-peekaboo

Phyllis Haver was the silver screen’s first Roxie Hart and does she ever own the part! The 1927 version of Chicago is a mad bit of twenties wildness and Miss Haver’s performance is a huge part of what makes it a success.

The plot, if you will recall, is that Roxie plugs her lover and then tries to get off the hook with the help of a very clever lawyer. Thought lost for decades, it was rediscovered in the personal archive of Cecil B. DeMille (the film’s uncredited director) and has finally been restored to its rightful place as one of the darlings of the silent movie fandom.

Recommended

It’s working, shutup willya? Animated GIF

chicago-1927-shutup

Phyllis Haver’s wonderfully expressive face is one of the great assets of the 1927 film version of Chicago (yes, that Chicago). Her Roxie Hart is a somewhat homicidal gal with a heart of pure granite. In this case, she is hiding from the bill collector when he comes to call. Ukuleles, player pianos and silk lingerie are not free, as it turns out. Five minutes later, she plugs her lover with a revolver. Oh that Roxie!

You can read my review of the film here.

Recommended

“This is a decent jail!” Animated GIF

chicago-1927-this-is-a-decent-jailPhyllis Haver’s Roxie Hart and Julia Faye’s Velma have met their match with the jailhouse matron. The battle started with Velma accusing Roxie of using peroxide, Roxie pulling off Velma’s wiglet and it all went downhill from there. The root of the animosity? Which one of these dishy murderesses is the more famous or, should I say, infamous? Who has more columns, more photos, more condemnation from decent citizens?

Ah, Chicago. I love you so!

Availability

A beautifully restored print has been released on DVD by Flicker Alley.

Chicago (1927) A Silent Film Review

Think Chicago started as a 1970’s musical? Think again! The original play by Maurine Watkins was filmed twice before it was ever a musical, once as a silent and once as a talkie. Juicy though the story of murderesses and corruption was, the behind-the-scenes action was just as intriguing.

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