A U.S. Army lieutenant stationed at a frontier fort decides to battle his boredom constructively by holding up the stagecoach for a giggle. Things take a serious turn when the stage is held up for real. That’ll teach him.Continue reading “Ranson’s Folly (1926) A Silent Film Review”
Richard Barthelmess plays a shattered WWI veteran who tries to bury himself in the country. He finds unexpected love when a marriage of convenience turns into a love match, thanks to that enchanted cottage of the title.
Poor Richard Barthelmess! Stuck on a boat with an incredibly tedious policeman who (gasp!) doesn’t like the ukulele. Go on, Richard, thwack him. We promise not to tell.
Richard Barthelmess plays Oliver Bashforth, a veteran of the First World War whose body was mangled beyond repair in the conflict. Trying to escape his overbearing and insensitive family, he takes a cottage in the country. In order to create a further buffer, he enters into a marriage of convenience with a homely local woman. But the cottage seems to have something magical about it and soon love and healing are in the air.
I will also be reviewing the 1945 remake starring Robert Young and Dorothy McGuire. Click here to skip to the talkie.
Continue reading “The Enchanted Cottage (1924) A Silent Film Review”
Tol’able David is mostly remembered today for being the movie shown as The Tingler strikes. However, it would be a huge mistake to ignore this classic slice of Americana. It has sweetness, family, humor and tragedy in abundance but the set piece of the film is the climactic fight between Richard Barthelmess, a teenage mailman, and Ernest Torrence’s psychotic hillbilly.
Back in 1921, Rudolph Valentino caused a good portion of the population to collectively faint when he tangoed in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. That same year, another young man was using song and dance as his means to romance.
Hey, I made a rhyme! I am a poet and I did not know it.
Anyway, Tol’able David is a charming tribute to Americana and features a sweet romance between Barthelmess and Gladys Hulette. In this case, he is attempting to impress her with his simultaneous hoofing and harmonica playing skills. Not exactly the tango but Gladys liked it.
A lot of film buffs know it as the movie that was playing when the Tingler struck but do yourself a favor and watch the whole thing. So worth it.
Fun fact! Valentino and Barthelmess were born just three days apart. And both were helped along professionally by actress Alla Nazimova. Of course, their paths diverge from there as Barthelmess managed to obtain the creative control that Valentino spent his entire career seeking.
Availability: The best home video edition was the one released by Image. The DVD is now out of print but you can still buy a digital download (not sure if it is licensed for sale outside the U.S.). Alpha released a version on DVD, which is likely lower in quality but certainly very cheap (as little as three dollars from some vendors). There is also a version from Grapevine, which is usually a cut above the silent public domain vendors. I have not personally viewed either the Grapevine or the Alpha release so I can’t remark on how they compare to the Image disc.
Snow-skinned princesses and dwarfs combine forces once more in the straightforward version of the classic fairy tale. 1910’s favorite Marguerite Clark is the title character, Creighton Hale is the prince and a very young Richard Barthelmess makes an appearance as one of the evil queen’s disguises. Yes, really.
Continue reading “Snow White (1916) A Silent Film Review”
A South Seas vehicle for flapper-in-the-making Clarine Seymour, who died soon after filming was completed. D.W. Griffith makes the most of his scenery and poses some interesting religious and ethical questions but nothing really pays off. Too many reused elements from his earlier films and about 30 minutes too long. See it for the lively Seymour and an uncharacteristically dark turn from Richard Barthelmess.
If it were a dessert it would be:
Pineapple Upside-Down Mini Cakes. Cute but a whole lot of canned goods involved.
Click here to read my full-length review.
If you asked me to pick just one movie that perfectly captured the spirit of romanticized rural America, it would be this one. Richard Barthelmess gives the performance of a lifetime as a gentle lad who faces a coldly brutal world and is forced to grow up overnight. Contains violent passages yet it maintains its sweetness. Simple yet packed with symbolism. This one is a classic for a reason.
If it were a dessert it would be:
Maple Glazed Donuts. Thoroughly New World. It may seem like an old hat but it is done so well that it’s a revelation.
Read my full review here.
To honor the start of the William Castle Blogathon, I made this GIF from The Tingler. The titular nasty is loose in a silent movie theater that just happens to be playing Tol’able David, one of my favorite movies. This is the iconic scene in which the Tingler crawls in front of the projector. Brrr! Scary puppet!
You can read the roster of entries here and here. And be sure to look for mine on August 2. And you can read my review of Tol’able David here. The Tingler does overcrank it so that everything is a bit manic looking.
Status: Missing and presumed lost
This Richard Barthelmess vehicle was based on the 1913 novel of the same name by Jeffery Farnol. The novel told the tale of the son of a prizefighter who tries to break into English society in the Regency era. The silent era was not overly fond of Regency-era costume pictures (some were made but silents generally skewed Victorian and Elizabethan) so it would be fun to see how they handled this tale. Plus Richard Barthelmess is always a pleasure to watch.
D.W. Griffith offers adventure, romance, exotic climes, a leering camera and Carol Dempster to the viewing public. The viewing public says: “Thanks but no thanks.” Carol is a zany teen determined to save her father from a murder charge in this kitchen sink (as in everything but) caper. Oh, Dad’s guilty, Carol just doesn’t want him arrested. Unlikable characters, an inexperienced leading lady and far too little Richard Barthelmess doom this picture. Dempster is good at the stunts. Acting, not so much.
Director D.W. Griffith took a creaky melodrama and… kept it creaky! Lillian Gish is used and tossed aside by a rich creep. She stumbles onto Richard Barthelmess’s farm, where the whole family embraces her with open arms. Then said rich creep shows up. Works surprisingly well thanks to great work from Gish and Barthelmess, as well as one of Griffth’s very best Races to the Rescue™… On Ice! (On tour this winter!)
White Almond Flower (Clarine Seymour) is a flapper-ish island girl who just can’t choose between a sickly missionary (Creighton Hale) and an atheist beach bum (Richard Barthelmess). Will WAF be “civilized” or will she be free to continue her moonlight idolatry? D.W. Griffith directs this tale of religion, the nature of civilization and shimmy-shimmy shakes.
Continue reading “The Idol Dancer (1920) A Silent Film Review”
Clarine Seymour has found drunk-as-a-lord Richard Barthelmess on the beach. Her daddy is tired of her always bringing things home so Clarine must ask for permission to keep her new pet.
Director D.W. Griffith attempts to showcase his protegee, Carol Dempster, in this ocean-themed crime drama. An accused murderer is hiding out on a South Sea island with his daughter. The long arm of the law is closing in. How far will she go to make sure that her dear old dad stays free?
Continue reading “The Love Flower (1920) A Silent Film Review”
Richard Barthelmess is David, a country boy whose one goal in life is to be considered a man, to prove himself worthy of being allowed into the grown-ups club. When tragedy strikes his family, David finds himself growing up faster than even he had ever wanted.
Continue reading “Tol’able David (1921) A Silent Film Review”
Director D.W. Griffith dives back into country melodrama with this adaptation of a hoary stage smash. Lillian Gish plays Anna, a country girl seduced and abandoned by a rich cad. The resulting baby dies and Anna is alone in the world. She meets the kindly Bartlett family and it seems that her life is taking a turn for the better… that is until her past is exposed.