The Beloved Blackmailer (1918) A Silent Film Review

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!

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The Girl with the Hat Box (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.
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East and West (1923) 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?
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The Shamrock and the Rose (1927) 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.

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The Wishing Ring (1914) A Silent Film Review

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?

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Adam’s Rib (1923) 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.
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The Sunbeam (1912) 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.
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The Oyster Princess (1919) 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.

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Why Change Your Wife? (1920) A Silent Film Review

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.

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Don’t Change Your Husband (1919) A Silent Film Review

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.
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