I haven’t done a French silent movie month in ages and I am itching to enjoy and celebrate these wonderful films again so here we are. I could basically just review French and Russian silents and be happy as clam so usually I have to pace myself a bit but this month is all about absolute self-indulgence.
(The title of this theme month is derived from the lyrics of a political song from the leadup to the English Civil War, which scolded the country for rejecting absolute, by-divine-right monarchy– a la mode de France– and encouraging a return to same. It is traditionally sung in a broad Dutch accent and is set to the tune Nonesuch, which pre-dates it considerably. And this has been my plug for early/pre-classical music, thank you very much.)
The French were undisputed masters of silent cinema and worked in every genre imaginable, from slapstick comedy to westerns. I have a particular weakness for French serials.
I am keeping things on the light side this month with most of the films being comedies. I hope you will have as much fun as I will.
In the meantime, here are some French films I have already reviewed.
Wonderful Absinthe (1899): Alice Guy’s comedy of errors and absinthe.
A Trip to the Moon (1902): Iconic.
Max Sets the Style (1914): Max Linder’s passion for fashion gets him in trouble.
Legende du Roi Gambrinus (1911): Sound AND color in 1911? You’d better believe it!
Nick Winter and the Theft of the Mona Lisa (1911): A torn-from-the-headlines comedy.
The Railway of Death (1912): Jean Durand’s bizarre and violent French-made western.
Judex (1916): Louis Feuillade’s perfectly brilliant crime serial starring the first cinematic caped crusader.
The Smiling Madame Beudet (1922): Germaine Dulac’s brilliant feminist film about a woman with a frustratingly non-empathetic, coarse husband.
The Burning Crucible (1923): Ivan Mosjoukine directed and starred in this zany detective comedy-romance.
Cyrano de Bergerac (1925): Stencil color on steroids!
The Chess Player (1927): Raymond Bernard’s sci-fi/historical film mashup. When you want automatons in your 18th century epic.
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