Shelfie: Sessue Hayakawa, Lots of Germans and My Most-Plagiarized Review

I’m back with another glimpse of my, ahem, modest silent film collection. If you want to catch up on other “shelfie” posts, you can find them here.

I’m based in California, so these films are quite possibly region 1. Readers living outside the region will need to make sure they have a region-free player before grabbing one of these titles.

Dragon Painter (1919)

Sessue Hayakawa started producing his own films with the goal of showcasing Japanese culture for American audiences. Most of his pictures are lost but this is one of the exceptions. I have the 2008 Milestone DVD edition.

Read my review of the film here.

Surrender (1927)

I was so looking forward to this film… and then I actually got my hands on it. Good lord, it is awful. Don’t do it! I have the 2012 Grapevine version.

Read my review/rant here.

Annabell Lee (1921)

This low-budged faux Poe story was shot in Martha’s Vineyard. It’s a pretty dull film but, strangely enough, it’s also my most-plagiarized review. I’m not sure why, it’s hardly my best, but there you have it. I own the 2008 Grapevine edition.

Read my review here.

The Holy Mountain (1926)

This is one of those mountain climbing films that were big in Germany in the 1920s. It also stars Leni Riefenstahl, who makes a perfect ass of herself in an unintentionally hilarious modern dance sequence. Should you be annoyed with fascists in your daily life, I thoroughly recommend viewing this scene. I own the 2003 Kino Lorber release.

P.S. I had a bonkers commenting incident earlier this year in which someone got on their high horse about owning any Leni Riefenstahl pictures. For the record, I don’t support banning films and I think whether or not you want to view her filmography for historical research is a personal decision. I own Birth of a Nation and you know how I feel about Griffith. And, please, no “Poor wittle Leni wasn’t a Nazi” in the comments. The ban hammer is primed and ready.

The Eyes of Julia Deep (1918)

Mary Miles Minter is mainly remembered as a player in the William Desmond Taylor case but this is a chance to see her chops as an actress. I own the 2005 Sunrise Silents release. That company is defunct but you can get the film from Grapevine.

A Woman of the World (1925)

I love this film to death! Pola Negri plays an elegant, cigarette smoking, tattoo having countess who ends up in the Midwest. Chaos ensues. This comedy is a delight, as is Negri, who was an experienced comedienne in her German films but was typecast in drama in the U.S.A. I own the Grapevine edition.

Read my review of the film here.

Peter Pan (1924)

I must confess that I am pretty meh about this picture, which is probably why I’ve never reviewed it. There is nothing harder to write about in a film review than meh. I own the 1999 Kino release.

The Soul of the Beast (1923)

An abused circus performer escapes into the Canadian wilderness with her Jazz talkin’ elephant, where they are mistaken for the antichrist. I am not making this up. See it, it’s nuts. I have the Sunrise Silents edition, which is out of print. You can get the film from Grapevine.

Read my review here and be prepared to pick your jaw off the floor.

Tartuffe (1926)

A veritable who’s who of German cinema, this film is directed by Murnau and stars Emil Jannings and Lil Dagover. I haven’t see it in ages (I think I got it not long after it was released in the US) but I seem to remember it being on the dry side. I have the 2003 Kino edition.

Sunrise (1927)

Okay, interesting story here. When Fox announced it was releasing this film, it wasn’t really for sale. You had to buy three OTHER Fox classics at $20 a pop and clip the proofs of purchase, plus some money for shipping and then they’d send you Sunrise. It was all very retro 1950s. I think I bought All About Eve, The Day the Earth Stood Still and A Gentleman’s Agreement. So worth it but weird. Anyway, there’s now a DVD/Bluray combo pack you can just but with money like a normal person.

Well, that’s all for today, kids! I hope you had fun.


Like what you’re reading? Please consider sponsoring me on Patreon. All patrons will get early previews of upcoming features, exclusive polls and other goodies.


  1. Birgit

    I feel Leni didn’t have her lips puckered up Hitler’s butt then Greta Garbo loved partying. It’s a shame she didn’t land in jail forever but she didn’t. That being said, I hate it when people say films and books should be banned or not shown due to their content. They have no clue and they are actually scary. Love to see that Pola Negri film and I liked the Peter Pan film.

    1. Fritzi Kramer

      Riefenstahl spent the last years of her life whining about how awful it was that she couldn’t make movies. Well, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf and Herbert von Karajan got off easy (both were full members of the Nazi party) but I think they should have been blacklisted as well. No mercy for Riefenstahl but her films should be available.

  2. Marie Roget

    A Woman of the World is just wonderful, isn’t it? Long-time personal favorite of mine.

    I’m good with the 1924 Peter Pan primarily because of DP James Wong Howe, of whom I’m a tremendous fan. Have it filed under “H” in fact. When we have any kiddie relatives in a certain age range staying with us we frequently trot out this Peter Pan as it does keep their attention. Not as well as any combo of Our Gang, Chaplin, or Keystone, but well enough 😉

  3. popegrutch

    How do you know which is your most plagiarized review? You don’t just mean those weird “re-blogs” some blogs do, or do you? I sort of don’t count those, since they do attribute the original site, but the motivation for re-blogging often eludes me.

    1. Fritzi Kramer

      No, I have actually had multiple grey market DVD sites steal my review, slightly change it and then post it as a product description. They took the review, images, everything. I have gotten very good at cease and desist emails, believe me. I think this film gets targeted because it’s in the public domain and they can play up the alleged Poe connection.

      The harder thing to prove is when someone copies your research and then presents it as their own. It has happened a couple of times and in such a way that I KNEW it was mine. Not much that can be done there.

      I personally don’t like to reblog but if I like a site or use it as a source, I always try to send people their way with a link. It’s only polite and ethical.

      1. popegrutch

        I suppose if that happened to me, I’d have to count on someone else to notice it and let me know. I usually try to link to other reviews I’ve read when I write my reviews, but occasionally I forget. I probably owe Movies Silently a link or two somewhere along the line!

      2. Fritzi Kramer

        Yeah, I don’t go scouring the internet but when I run across something that seems familiar, I go back and check. I know I certainly am guilty of forgetting links on occasion!

  4. Marie Roget

    OT, I’m afraid…

    May I just say that this weekend (8/11-12-13/17), above all recent weekends, Movies Silently is a site I have found myself coming to almost automatically with happiness and relief. The sense of community at MS of silent film fans of every stripe is palpable, both in posts and the comment threads.

    Thank you yet again for all these wonderful posts and reviews!

Comments are closed.