Stop me if you’ve heard this one: a pretty shop girl falls in love with the boss but then schemes and circumstances force them apart. Will these crazy kids find love? Clara Bow and Antonio Moreno star in Bow’s signature film.
This controversial Best Picture winner is a silent movie about the transition to sound. Jean Dujardin is on top of the world as a Valentino/Fairbanks/Gilbert type (with cute dog) but talkies send him into a downward spiral. Can he recover?
What do you do if your boyfriend is a hopeless hypochondriac and his father is trying to bankrupt your family’s railroad? Well, you could hire pugilists to kidnap said boyfriend to get him into shape and then blackmail his dad into submission. Yeah, that sounds like a perfect plan for killing two birds with one stone and only a few felonies to commit!
Mae Murray plays a good girl who pretends to be bad in order to land a job as a nightclub hostess. Rudolph Valentino plays a nice Irish boy (?) who falls for Mae but wishes she wasn’t quite so naughty. And, naturally, there is a cad who plans to use our heroine’s double life for his own nefarious purposes.
Clara Bow goes Hawaiian in this Victor Fleming-directed rom-com. The target of Miss Bow’s affections is a very shocked (and very married) Clive Brook. The whole thing is pretty much an excuse to get Clara into grass skirts and wet frocks but she sells it.
Continue reading “Hula (1927) A Silent Film Review”
Housing shortages, wage theft, tax evasion… are these really subjects for comedy? They are to director Boris Barnet! Anna Sten plays a mischievous milliner who enters into a marriage of convenience with a homeless college student so that he can use her Moscow apartment. Of course, nothing works out the way they planned and matters are further complicated when Miss Sten becomes the proud owner of a winning lottery ticket.
Continue reading “The Girl with the Hat Box (1927) A Silent Film Review”
Constance Talmadge is married to Ronald Colman. While some women would kill for that problem, Connie is all set to run home to mother. She changes her mind when she has a chance meeting with her identical twin sister, a famous and famously sexy dancer. The women trade places and poor Ronald has no idea what hit him.
Continue reading “Her Sister from Paris (1925) A Silent Film Review”
A wealthy Polish-American businessman returns to the old country after a long absence. He brings along his spunky daughter (Yiddish stage legend Molly Picon), an irreverent practical joker and amateur pugilist. She wins the heart of a shy, dour Talmudic scholar (Picon’s real-life husband, Jacob Kalich) but when a mock wedding goes too far, they find themselves locked in an uncomfortable match. Will east and west ever find a way to bridge the divide?
Continue reading “East and West (1923) A Silent Film Review”
Rosie is a girl living in New York who falls for Tom, the boy next door. Neither family is thrilled with the romance but what can you do when two crazy kids just want to fall in love? Well, in this case, the answer is to engage in slapstick and as many ethnic stereotypes as will fit into the runtime. This film is part of a very curious subgenre, one that helped create copyright law as we know it.
A Cinderella-of-the-Tenements tale, Forbidden Fruit is also a decadent slice of the twenties, as viewed through the extravagant lens of Cecil B. DeMille. Lavish production values, crazy costumes and a surprisingly clear-headed look at a marriage gone wrong. Plus, you know, Cinderella dream sequences. This is DeMille after all.
Continue reading “Forbidden Fruit (1921) A Silent Film Review”
Bankrupt in New York? California, here we come! That, in a nutshell, is the plot of Rubber Tires, a romantic road comedy from the tail end of the silent era. Can our madcap family roll into Newhall in their battered flivver? Well, of course they can but getting there is (theoretically) all the fun.
In ye olde merrie Englande (that mystical place of superfluous letters), a wastrel of a college student pulls one prank too many and is kicked out of both school and home. He ends up falling for the local parson’s daughter, who makes it her mission to reconcile father and son. Oh, and she thinks she has a magic wishing ring. What? Doesn’t everyone?
Continue reading “The Wishing Ring (1914) A Silent Film Review”
What do you get when you mix a partying husband, a wily wife, a sassy maid and a night in jail? Well, when Ernst Lubitsch directs, you get a zany comedy of marriage and romance. Much wilder and broad than his later work, this early film has plenty to offer.
Continue reading “The Merry Jail (1917) A Silent Film Review”
Cecil B. DeMille takes another stab at the domestic comedy– this time with cavemen thrown in for good measure. The tale concerns married couple on the shady side of thirty. Their union seems doomed when the wife starts stepping out with an exiled aristocrat. The couple’s teenage daughter, a modern maiden, has other ideas and she intends to save her save the marriage at any cost– all while romancing a stuffy paleontologist.
Continue reading “Adam’s Rib (1923) A Silent Film Review”
Director D.W. Griffith’s modern reputation rests on his epics but I don’t think that is the right call. The charming short films that he made for the Biograph company are the Griffith movies that I keep coming back to. (Well, the non-squicky ones, anyway.) The amount of emotion and story he was able to pack into those ten to twenty minute morsels is nothing short of miraculous.
Continue reading “The Sunbeam (1912) A Silent Film Review”
Constance Talmadge is a lovely American heiress who travels to England disguised as a frump in order to ward off fortune-hunting men. Ronald Colman is a penniless aristocrat who falls for Constance and impersonates a physician to get a closer look. Chaos ensues. Of course. It’s a romantic comedy!
Continue reading “Her Night of Romance (1924) A Silent Film Review”
Ossi’s father is the Oyster King of America and she has decided that she deserves nothing less than a European prince. Nucki is the penniless prince in question but a few cases of mistaken identity later, all plans are in shambles. Hidden amongst the the wacky hijinks is some pointed social commentary courtesy of director Ernst Lubitsch.
When an innocent romance springs up between a lowly shop girl and an incognito chain-store heir, can it survive interfering parents, a hidden identity, and a secret engagement? This was Mary Pickford’s final silent film and she works opposite her future husband, Buddy Rogers.
Mary Pickford plays an orphan who is awarded a scholarship to college by a mysterious benefactor, whom she nicknames her Daddy Long Legs. Mary grows, learns and graduates and all the time, she sends letters to Daddy Long Legs detailing her progress, fears and dreams. Now just who could her Daddy be?
Toni is an innocent Austrian girl who dreams of an operatic career but the only job she can get is as a showgirl in a nightclub. After refusing the advances of a wealthy customer, Toni and the club seamstress are sacked. The unlikely pair make their way to Monte Carlo where Toni gets a chance at real love.
A Cinderella story for the 1920s. Colleen Moore plays the Ella of the title, a waif who finds happiness and her prince charming via Hollywood. The picture has some clever and funny camera work and an extremely beguiling performances from Moore, who lends her ready wit and elastic features to the affair.
It’s Gloria Swanson’s turn to be the offending party in this DeMille marital comedy. She is a lovely young prude who moralizes her husband right into the waiting arms of another woman. Only then does Gloria realize that she has made a mistake and a little romance helps in marriage. Armed with this knowledge- and a wild wardrobe- she sets out to win back her man.
Gloria Swanson is a young wife whose husband is, for lack of a better word, a pigpen. Tired of his slovenly ways and uncaring manner, she leaves him for a better groomed, sweet-talking man. But all is not wine and rose and she soon learns that it may not have been a good idea to change her husband after all. DeMille’s dive into marital comedy is a glimpse of good things to come.
Continue reading “Don’t Change Your Husband (1919) A Silent Film Review”
A variation on the popular twenties gold-digger theme in the key of Capra. The delightful Viola Dana dreams of landing a rich husband. Ralph Graves seems to be the man of her dreams but when he is disinherited, it is Viola’s entrepreneurial spirit that saves the day.
Continue reading “That Certain Thing (1928) A Silent Film Review”
Eve (Leatrice Joy) is a tomboy raised on her father’s ship. She dreams of romance but there are no eligible bachelors around. When chance sends the handsome Bill Stanley (William Boyd) her way, she is determined to land him as a husband, even if it means shanghaiing him first!
A glamorous European countess meets small town America and it’s a novel experience for both. Tongues wag, the gentlemen preen and the town’s moral crusader finds himself unpleasantly in love. This is pretty much the most fun you can have at the movies and not be breaking the law.
Continue reading “A Woman of the World (1925) A Silent Film Review”