Before they went ape for King Kong, Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack and Fay Wray made this military adventure. There have been many film adaptations of The Four Feathers but the cast really sets this one apart: William Powell, Richard Arlen, Clive Brook and Noah Beery. Arlen plays a soldier who is branded a coward by his best friends and his fiancee so he sets out to prove them wrong. Given the generally negative reviews, I was surprised and delighted by how good this movie is. This late silent deserves a revival.
Squirrels. You can’t trust ’em. One minute they’re looking as cute as anything and the next thing you know, “CHOMP!” and look who has bubonic plague.
The oft-filmed tale of an Englishman who is branded a coward and spends the rest of the film proving that he most assuredly is not. This version (released at the height of the sound transition) was one of the very last silent movie hits. It also features William Powell and Fay Wray before they hit the big time and it is directed by a couple of guys mostly known for making a film about a really big ape…
Continue reading “The Four Feathers (1929) A Silent Film Review”
Silent Take is back! This time, I am recasting the iconic Indiana Jones in the world of silent film.
Indiana Jones was based on the classic cliffhanger serials of the thirties and forties but those serials were in turn based on the exciting offerings of the silent era.
Bebe Daniels is a hypochondriac heiress who ends up staying on an island with a gang of bootleggers, who are led by a pre-stardom William Powell. Of course, Bebe is more interested in Richard Arlen, another gangster who seems a bit too nice to be a rum runner. Chaos ensues, obviously, and the film is a real corker in spite of a flabby middle section.
[toggler title=”How does it end? (click here for a spoiler)” ]Bebe ends up saving her fella’s life from the rum runners. Feminism! Romance![/toggler]
If it were a dessert it would be:
Gin & Tonic Sorbet. Anything this fun was probably illegal at some point.
I am very happy to be writing about one of my favorite westerns. I am not an enormous fan of the genre but what I like, I really like.
Bebe Daniels stars as a hypochondriac heiress who is threatened with a move to a ranch in Texas. She flees to what she thinks is a convalescent home but finds herself trapped on an island with a gang of rum runners– led by a pre-fame William Powell. Bebe doesn’t realize the danger she is in until it is too late. Will she be able to save herself and her only ally, Richard Arlen?
Continue reading “Feel My Pulse (1928) A Silent Film Review”
Bebe Daniels is the hypochondriac heiress of Feel My Pulse. Her uncle advised her to have adventure and romance. She ended up battling rum runners (led by William Powell!) and single-handedly saving the life of dishy undercover reporter Richard Arlen. But she also read his column and, well, he kind of dissed her in it. Said she was pretty but dumb. So she is not overly inclined to consider him the Romance of her adventure.
Status: Print, held by the Academy Film Archive, was missing one reel. The missing final reel was located and the complete film has been shown at festivals but has not been made available to the general public. Hint hint.
It stars Hobart Bosworth, my absolute favorite old sea salt, and Richard Arlen, who provides the hubba-hubba.
From the descriptions available, it sounds like it has everything a viewer could want in a seafaring adventure: Shanghaied crew, mutiny, ruthless captain…
Bosworth is out to revenge himself on the nasty captain who framed him for murder and stole his wife and daughter. Arlen, naturally in love with said daughter, is ready to lend support. Sounds like some grade “A” tuppenny blood stuff!
Reviews were very positive for this nautical yarn.
Motion Picture News was quite enthusiastic:
A good old nerve-tingling title decorates this picture — the action of which lives up to its colorful moniker. The piece carries a wallop in the play of melodrama on the high seas. Before you are barely ready to say “Captain Kidd” it informs you that the clipper is a hell-ship the master of which has a habit of beating up his crews. As you can see, the story is a blood relative of Jack London’s “Sea Wolf,” though there are many marks of originality about it which sets it apart from the London opus.
The skipper has a “shanghai” complex. When a crew runs out on him after a punishing cruise he and his first mate (who registers an equally hard-boiled disposition) use strong-arm methods and shanghai enough sailors to run the ship. Of course, with such a background it is easy to guess that the motivation will concern a mutiny. It’s red-hot action which is served up here — and no mistake. The players entertain a deal of punishment from the brutal skipper before he is knocked for a row of anchors.
A love note punctuates the action to balance the hard moments — and Richard Arlen and Jacqueline Logan take care of it very romantically. But it is the melodrama which provides the real interest and suspense. Everything happens that could possibly happen during the voyage. So put it down as vigorous entertainment.
Photoplay liked the film but felt it was too brutal:
A real he-man picture and this is one time we feel the ladies will like to be excused. (Editor’s note: This lady will be staying, thank you very much.) A picture that is well- produced and directed; filled with splendid performances; but its story is one of mutiny, brutality, murder and a girl. Too gruesome for real enjoyment. Hobart Bosworth, Jacqueline Logan and Richard Arlen are in the cast, with Bosworth giving one of the finest performances of the month.
The New York Times liked what it saw:
Vivid characterizations give vitality to “The Blood Ship,” at the Roxy this week. It’s a story of mutiny, murder and men, with a lone girl among them.
The original 1922 novel by Norman Springer is in the public domain and may be downloaded from several sources. Until the film is released to the viewing public, that is about as close as we can get to it.
You gotta watch those squirrels. Tricky little critters…
Unfortunately, many films of the silent era have been lost. This new series is going to list some of the more interesting ones. We are going to start with a comedy from the late silent era.