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Old 07-26-2008, 08:20 PM   #151
sabotai
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La Sirene des tropiques (1927)
English: Siren of the Tropics

Directed by: Mario Nalpas, Henri Etievant
Starring: Josephine Baker, Pierre Batcheff, Regina Thomas
Length: 86 minutes
Genre: Drama / Romance


The first time Josephine Baker appears on my journey (and one of the only times), and this film from France shows that the French didn't have hangups about nudity even in the 1920s as Baker appears topless several times. Yes, of course that would be the first thing I point out!

Andre Berval (Pierre Batcheff) unfortunately is in love with the same woman his boss loves. In an effort to take his rival out of the picture, the boss sends Berval to Monte Puebla to explore for minerals. While there, Andre meets Papitou (Josaphine Baker), who falls for him. When Andre returns to Paris Papitou chases after him. However, she sees that Andre loves Denis (Regina Thomas), she stops pursueing him, but, due to her dancing ability, Papitou ends up becoming a star in show business.

Baker was born in St. Louis in 1906, but in the 1920s when she saw just how limited her oppurtinuties were because she was a black woman, she left the US for France where she became a star very quickly. She returned to the states in the mid 1930s to perform on Broadway, but bolted for Europe again when she saw that treatment towards black people had not changed.

Entertainment Rating: 6/10
Historical Rating: 6/10
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Old 07-27-2008, 11:27 PM   #152
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The Lodger (1927)



Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: Maria Ault, Ivor Novello, Arthur Chesney
Length: 75 min
Genre: Crime / Thriller


Hitchcock's third film, he considered this his first true film. The quality of the print was pretty bad, but still watchable. The above is the first part of the movie. The entire movie is on YouTube.

The story is that of a man who shows up and rents out a room from a family. A serial killer has been on the loose, and suspicions quickly turn to the mysterious lodger. When the police search his room and find evidence against him, he runs and a mob chases him.

The movie was pretty raw, but had a lot of Hitchcock-like elements to it, including a brief cameo as a reporter by Hitchcock. The film was almost not released, but after they brought someone in to edit it, they finally decided to release the movie. In the end, the outside editor recognized Hitchcock's talent, and only reduced the number of title cards and suggested reshooting a few minor scenes. The Lodger was a success, and Hitchcock started to make a name for himself.

Had this movie been shelved for good, Hitchcock's career may have been shelved as well.

Entertainment Rating: 6/10
Historical Rating: 7/10
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Old 07-28-2008, 12:01 AM   #153
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Two comments about The Lodger: I didn't realize that Hitchcock made a silent movie. And wasn't this movie remade with Michael Keaton?
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Old 07-28-2008, 05:56 PM   #154
sabotai
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buccaneer View Post
Two comments about The Lodger: I didn't realize that Hitchcock made a silent movie. And wasn't this movie remade with Michael Keaton?

I went through Keaton's movie list on imdb.com and didn't see anything. I does get remade several times, though.

I was shocked to see Hitchcock started so early as well. His first movie was made in 1925, so he started at the tail end of the silent era. He made a bunch of movies in '27 and '28, and made his first sound film in '29 (Blackmail).
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Old 07-28-2008, 06:45 PM   #155
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Great stuff as always.

There's a colorized version of Metropolis out there with an 80's heavy metal score. True film buffs hate it of course, but I thought it was really interesting. I don't think it ever came out on DVD though.
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Old 07-28-2008, 10:52 PM   #156
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sabotai View Post
I went through Keaton's movie list on imdb.com and didn't see anything. I does get remade several times, though.


Pacific Heights what I was thinking of.
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Old 08-02-2008, 10:21 PM   #157
sabotai
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Wings (1927)



Directed by: William A. Wellman
Starring: Charles "Buddy" Rogers, Richard Arlen, Clara Bow
Length: 141 minutes
Genre: War / Drama / Romance




1927-1928 Best Picture, Production
1927-1928 Best Effects, Engineering Effects (Roy Pomeroy)



The movie cost over $2 million to make, a huge sum of money for the time, and you can see why when you watch it. Some of the shots and the effects are miles ahead of what I've seen in other movies.

In a rural town, Jack Powell (Buddy Rogers) and David Armstrong (Richard Arlen) start off as rivals competing over the attention of a city girl (played by Jobyna Rolston, best known for starring opposite Harold Lloyd in many of his comedies). The city girl is in love with David, but doesn't know how to tell Jack. There is another girl, Mary Preston (Clara Bow) who is in love with Jack, but he doesn't know it, and she repeatedly has her heart broken when he turns his attention to the city girl.

Both Jack and David enter the military to become pilots. The are put in the same unit and fight constantly. It eventually turns from rivalry to friendship as they earn each other's respect. At this point, Gary Cooper shows up, playing the role of Cadet White for 1 scene. Cooper had been in over a dozen films at this point, but mostly as an uncredited extra. He started to get better roles , eve a few starring roles, but it was in this scene that he captured the attention of all of Hollywood. He quickly became a star.

The two friends head off to war, as does Mary Preston, who joins the war effort as a driver. While Mary is driving through Paris, she learns that Jack is there. When she finds him, he is completely smashed to the point that he doesn't recognize her and continues flirting with some French floozie. She changes into a dress and competes with the other girl and finally wins his attention, but he still doesn't realize it's Mary. She gets him back to his hotel room and as she's changing back into her uniform, a few MP officers walk in. She is forced to resign and heads home.

Soon after, Jack and David fight over a photo that the city girl had given to Jack. On the back of the photo, David sees a note that the girl wrote for David. He realizes the photo was meant for him and not Jack, but to protect Jack, he rips the photo up. Jack is enraged, and as the two fight, they are called to their planes. David gets shot down and Jack returns alone.

David survives the crash and starts to make his way back to the American base, but he has to avoid the Germans. Jack is fill with grief over David being shot down, and is determined to make the Germans pay. So, when David finds a German base and steals a plane to fly back to the US base with, you probably can tell what's going to happen.

Jack engages David without realize he's flying the German plane, and shoots him down. David crashes into a building and Jack lands his plane. When he reaches the German plane and looks inside the building, he sees the pilot has been placed on a table by some citizens, and realizes it's David.

Jack returns home and is greeted as a hero. David's mother forgives Jack for what happened and blames the war, and Jack is reunited with Mary. And yes, happy ending, Jack and Mary end up together.

In looking up information for Wings, I see references that the film's plot has been criticized. I think the plot for Wings was fine. In a lot of ways, I feel like I've watched a lot of cookie-cutter romances and cookie-cutter comedies (and plenty of them have been pretty good), but Wings didn't feel very cookie-cutter to me. It may not have had the best plot, or more than a simple plot, but it wasn't bad.

The effects were quite amazing. The director mounted cameras on planes, some pointing at the pilot, some away, during a re-enactment. They also attached smoke cannisters to some planes. They added flames in post-production. It was also obvious to me 2008 eyes that they extensively used models, but I can just imagine what it was like for someone in 1927 to see a shot of bombs being dropped from a plane onto a town and seeing buildings collapse and smoke billowing up when they hit. All from the a topdown viewpoint.

In fact, this was the first movie I've seen on this journey to use models so extensively. I remember watching a "making of" documentary on the first Star Wars film. They showed how they set up the models, shot them flying, and blew the up. They were essentially doing the same thing 50 years prior to Star Wars in this movie.

Clara Bow was the studio's biggest star at the time, but Rogers and Arlen were both just starting out at the time, and this movie made stars of them. The film's initial run lasted for 63 weeks. It was one of the most successful silent movies ever made.

Entertainment Rating: 8/10
Historical Rating: 10/10
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Old 08-02-2008, 11:17 PM   #158
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It (1927)



Directed by: Clarence G. Badger
Starring: Clara Bow, Antonio Moreno, William Austin
Length: 77 Minutes
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Based On: The novel by Elinor Glyn


"It" being slang for sex appeal. After this movie, Clara Bow was known as "The It Girl".

Betty Lou (Clara Bow) is a sales girl who is in love with her boss, Cyrus (Antonio Moreno). Cyrus is already engaged, but Betty Lou keeps at it. However, just as it seems she has succeeded, Cyrus' friend Monty (William Austin) ends up killing her chances when he overhears her telling social workers that she is the mother of a child they've come to investigate. In reality, the child is her sister's child. Monty tells Cyrus about what he overheard. In the end, Betty Lou set Monty straight on what happened, and got him to help her get Cyrus back.

Everyone's performance was fine, especially William Austin in the role Monty. He plays the comedic relief part very well. The movie was pretty much the standard romantic comedy, though. But that wasn't really the goal of the movie, it was to show off Clara Bow, and she is certainly worthy of that.

In a way, though, this movie, which made her a star, may have set in motion her demise as an actress. She became known as "The It Girl", and rumors started to flow about her sex life, from famous actors to stories of group sex.

Paramount, who helped create her image by putting her in nothing but sex appeal roles, grew tired of her image. The studio fired her in 1931 (released her from her contract, same thing). She would make a few more movies FOX, but tired of dealing with the press and her own insecurity over her voice (thick Brooklyn accent) led her to leave the movies, get married and settle down.

Entertainment Rating: 5/10
Historical Rating: 7/10
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Old 08-03-2008, 02:52 AM   #159
sabotai
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The Cat and the Canary (1927)



Directed by: Paul Leni
Starring: Laura La Plante, Creighton Hale, Forrest Stanley
Length: 82 min
Genre: Horror
Based On: The Play of the same name by John Willard


The film that basically started it for this kind of horror movie.

A wealthy man dies but leaves instructions that his will to not be read until 20 years after his death. After the 20 years is up, all of the man's relatives come to his mansion for the reading of his will. All are expecting something, but only one person ends up getting it all. However, he left a second note saying that should anything happen to the person who go everything, everything would go to someone named in an unopened envelope, to be opened should it be needed.

The throw a monkey wrench into it all, an insane inmate at the nearby prison escaped, and a cop has shown up looking for him, and he won't leave until he finds him.

Obviously, after that, hilarity ensues. And some horror, too. If you ever seen a horror movie in which a group of people have to spend the night in a creepy mansion, and many of them are distrustful of the others and/or afraid of a monster/ghost/psycho, the creative process that spawned it can probably trace its influences all the way back to this movie.

The director, Paul Leni, was one of the German Expressionist filmmakers. Unfortunately, I have not seen any of his german movies. The camera work and the sets were very German Expressionist-like. Paul Leni, like F.W.Murnau, would die way before his time, though. He died in 1929 from blood poisoning (Sepsis).

The movie was pretty entertaining. I didn't read much about the movie before I watched it, and was pleasantly surprised. A good suspenseful movie that kept me guessing the entire time.

Entertainment Rating: 7/10
Historical Rating: 8/10
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Old 08-03-2008, 05:48 PM   #160
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My Best Girl (1927)



Directed by: Sam Taylor
Starring: Mary Pickford, Charles "Buddy" Rogers
Length: 79 min
Genre: Romantic Comedy


In her mid 30s, the studio finally puts Mary Pickford in her first adult role.

Joseph Merril (Buddy Rogers) is the son of a wealthy owner of a chain of 5 and 10 cent stores. To prove to his father that he is ready for the real world, he takes a job as a stock boy under a false name, Joe Grant. There, he meets Maggie Johnson (Mary Pickford). Maggie soon develops a crush on Joseph.

He, too, begins to have feelings for Maggie, but there's just one little problem. He's already engaged. He continues this duel life, trying to find the right time to break off his engagement, but time and his family catch up to him, leading to a scene in a courthouse where Joseph punches someone over a comment about Maggie.

It becomes a scandal in the newspapers and Joseph's father plans a trip to Hawaii for his son. Joseph plans to take Maggie with him, bet his father beats him to Maggie's house and offers a bribe and convinces her that leaving Joseph is the best thing for him. When Joseph arrives, Maggie tries to put on a act that she didn't care about him, but she can't keep it up and eventually breaks down.

The budget for the movie was around $500,000 and the movie made over $1 million in its first run. The studio had worried that putting Mary Pickford in an adult, romantic role would not go over well with a public that was used to seeing her as "American's Sweetheart". They were worried over nothing as the film was a big success.

This was Mary Pickford's last silent movie. After a two year absence, she returned to star in the 1929 movie Coquette, in which she would win an Oscar for. Her last movie was Secrets in 1933.

Entertainment Rating: 6/10
Historical Rating: 7/10

Last edited by sabotai : 08-03-2008 at 05:49 PM.
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Old 08-04-2008, 08:34 PM   #161
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The General (1927)



Directed by: Buster Keaton
Starring: Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavender
Length: 103 min.
Genre: Comedy


#18 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs
#18 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary)
Nominee for AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills


A showcase of dangerous stunts, a total disaster at the box office.

Johnnie Gray (Buster Keaton) is an engineer for the railroad company, and when he goes to enlist with the Confederate Army, he is rejected since they think his job is too important. A misunderstanding with his girlfriend's father and brother leads them to think he doesn't try to enlist, and his girlfriend, Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack), doesn't want to see him again until he is in a uniform.

Time passes, Johnnie keeps running the trains, and one day Annabelle is on the same train that Johnnie is running. A group of Union spies steal Johnnie's train, The General, with Annabelle still on it. She was in the luggage area. Johnnie chases after the train.

This is where the movie gets going. What follows is a long, very long, chase sequence as Johnnie chases the stolen train with another train. The Union spies keep trying to put obstacles in the way, and Johnnie keeps finding ways to deal with them.

The Union finally reach their destination. Johnnie sneaks into the house, rescues Annabelle, who he didn't even know was kidnapped. Shortly after, another long train chase sequence occurs, until Johnnie finally reaches the Confederate base. A battle takes place on a shallow river, after which Johnnie is enlisted as a Lieutenant, and he gets the girl.

What really makes this movie stand out are the stunts. They are absolutely unbelievable. Keaton swings from car to car, onto the train and off of it, and the shear amount of destruction is far and above anything I've seen in a comedy in the silent area. The budget for the movie was around $750,000, a huge sum of money, especially for a comedy which were (and still are) typically low budget productions.

The most memorable scene, one which many have probably seen before, is that of a train crossing a bridge that was sabotaged. The bridge collapses and the train plummets down into the river. No models were used for that scene. It was a real bridge, it was a real train, and thanks to Buster Keaton not telling the people playing the Union soldiers what to expect, the look of shock on their faces were real as well.

The only thing really missing from this movie was the comedy. There were some funny moments, mostly the interactions of Buster Keaton and Annabelle Lee during the second chase sequence. However, overall, the movie just wasn't all that funny. It felt more like a showcase of stunt work than a comedy.

The critics of the day basically felt the same (although they were much more harsh on the film that I am). The movie was slammed for Keaton being more of an acrobat and tumbler than a comedian. The movie completely flopped that led MGM to start restricting what the comedian could do.

Over the years, it has essentially been revived as it's been named very high on many Top Movie lists, including AFI's and Roger Ebert's lists. The film is certainly worthy of watching for the complex and exhilerating stunts, but truth be told, I didn't really laugh all that much. It was entertaining, just not all that funny.

It has recently been regarded as Keaton's best film. I respectfully disagree.

Entertainment Rating: 7/10
Historical Rating: 9/10
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Old 08-04-2008, 09:37 PM   #162
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The Jazz Singer (1927)



Directed by: Alan Crosland
Starring: Al Jolson, May McAvoy, Warner Oland
Length: 88 min.
Genre: Musical
Based On: The Play "Day of Atonement" by Samson Raphaelson



1927-1928 Honorary Award
1927-1928 Nominated for Best Writing, Adaptation
1927-1928 Nominated for Best Effects, Engineering Effects


Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You ain't heard nothin' yet.

Jackie Rabinowitz (Al Jolson) grows up dreaming of being a jazz singer, but his father, Cantor Rabinowitz (Warner Oland), Eventually, Jackie refuses to follow in his father's footsteps and leaves home. He changes his name of Jack Robin and tries to make it as a jazz singer.

After performing a few songs at a caberat, he is introduced to Mary Dale (May McAvoy). She helps him get a job with her and he starts to make a name for himself. He ends up getting a gig on Broadway, and he heads to New York for the first time since he left home.

He visits his mother, sings a song for her, but his father interrupts and kicks Jack out of the house. Shortly before Jack is to perform on Broadway, his father takes ill. Torn between his faith and his dream, Jack eventually chooses to sing at his father's synagogue in his place and misses his first performance.

It would seem that the importance of this movie has been downplayed a bit. No, it was not the first movie with sychronized sound. That had been in several films for over a year. No, it wasn't even the first film with sychronized speech. The very first one was a short called A Plantation Act, starring Al Jolson.

However, it was the first feature length movie with sychronized speech, and while his speaking lines were improvised, Jolson's contract included him speaking lines in the movie, so the studio fulliy planned to have Jolson speak lines. Perhaps they were even counting on Jolson's love of improv to provide them the lines.

Al Jolson was the biggest star on Broadway in the 1920s, and having him sing in the first feature length movie with sychronized voice did more for the advancement of sound in film that any other singular event. Audiences could not get enough of hearing Jolson sing, and the Jazz Singer was one of the biggest movies of the year.

The transition from silent to sound movies would not be instant, and that was mostly from a technical standpoint. A lot of theaters were not equipped for it, and the art of movie making had advanced quite a bit with silent technology. Many movie makers could almost do anything with a camera by this time, but to use a camera and the sound recording equipment was like going back 20 years. The camera had to stay stationary. The freedom and artistry that silent movie makers had enjoyed was thrown out the window if they tried to use the new equipment.

It would take awhile for the technology to catch up to the art. However, Al Jolson the The Jazz Singer were the cause. The effect was that demand for sound became infinite, and the studios responded. In 1928, the first all sound movies were being released, and by 1929, most major studios were producing exclusively sound pictures.

And for a bit of triva. Warner Oland, who plays the father and has the last sychronized speech in the film, goes on to be best known as Charlie Chan.

Entertainment Rating: 7/10
Historical Rating: 10/10
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Old 08-04-2008, 10:13 PM   #163
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I was hoping to see you review The Jazz Singer soon. I actually found the story moving. Faith and Father vs. Life and Passion and all that.
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Old 08-07-2008, 10:52 PM   #164
sabotai
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1927 In Review

The very first Oscars have (almost) come and gone. There will still be a few from the 1927-1928 awards to see next year, and some from next year will be from the 1928-1929 awards.

We saw the very first Bext Picture winners in Wings and Sunrise. We also saw Al Jolson lead the revolution towards sound. A revolution that was swift enough that never again would a silent movie win the Oscar for Best Picture. It's also a revolution that killed more silent movie stars than it embraced, either by the star's rejection or by the public's.

For the most part, 1928 would still be a year of silent movies. A lot of US movies have soundtracks and sound effects, but most still do not have dialogue, and it would take most other countries a few years to either import or catch up to Hollywood in film technology.

Movies of 1927

1. Wings
1. Metropolis
3. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
4. The Jazz Singer
5. The General
6. The Cat and the Canary
7. The Lodger
7. My Best Girl
9. La Sirene des tropiques
10. It
10. Romance of the Western Chamber
10. Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness
13. Berlin: Die Symphonie der Großstadt


Movie List for 1928
The Circus - Charlie Chaplin Comedy
La Chute de la maison usher - French movie based on Poe's story "The Fall of the House of Usher"
The Crowd - Oscar Nominated Drama
Easy Virtue - Alfred Hitchcock Drama
Four Sons - John Ford WWI Drama
In Old Arizona - Western
Laugh, Clown, Laugh - Lon Chaney
La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc - French movie about Joan of Arc
The Man Who Laughs - Paul Leni Horror
The Mysterious Lady - Greta Garbo romance
Speedy - Harold Lloyd comedy
Spione - Fritz Lang Thriller
Steamboat Bill, Jr. - Buster Keaton comedy
Street Angel - Oscar Winning Drama
Tempest - John Barrymore Drama
The Wind - Western starring Lillian Gish
A Woman of Affairs - Greta Garbo Drama

17 movies on the list for 1928. One reason for the increase in number of movies is that there are a lot of good ones out there now. I had a pretty tough time getting the list down to 17. Secondly, I now have TiVo, and several of the films above have been saved to my TiVo already. In fact, TCM had a Greta Garbo day today, so I have a lot of her films now saved to my TiVo (soon to be saved to my PC). Thirdly, a couple of the above are on YouTube.

The plan is to keep it to about 10 movies rented from Netflix, plus whatever I can record through TiVo or can find on YouTube. I plan on keeping my TiVo working overtime anytime they play a movie within several years of where I am. Right now I am recording every movie that is from 1928 to 1935, moving it to my PC and saving them on DVDs.
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Old 08-09-2008, 08:29 PM   #165
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Keep up the great work.
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Old 10-27-2008, 03:54 PM   #166
ntndeacon
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I have adored this look at early cinema.
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Old 10-29-2008, 12:50 AM   #167
sabotai
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Can't believe it's been almost 3 months since I updated this. I have not been in a movie watching mood for awhile. My Netflix account shows that I have not returned any DVDs since October 6th. Two movies I've really wanted to watch, Ironman and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, have been sitting on my desk for awhile. Finally got around to watching Ironman yesterday.

I will write up some reviews soon, though. I watched A Woman of Affairs and The Mysterious Lady awhile ago and should write them up before they completely fade from memory. I also watched Street Angel and today I watched Spione.

Another reason for the delay was that I wanted to watch the first couple of seasons of Heroes, The 4400 series and the final season of The Wire.

I'm now starting to get into the 1928 movies on my Netflix queue, so I'll be updating this more regularly soon.
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Old 10-29-2008, 08:04 PM   #168
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A Woman of Affairs (1928)



Directed by: Clarence Brown
Starring: Greta Garbo, John Gilbert, Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
Length: 91 min.
Genre: Romance / Drama
Based on: "The Green Hat" novel written by Michael Arlen


The story of the movie is about childhood sweethearts who were kept from each other due to various circumstances. Diana (Greta Garbo) loved Neville (John Gilbert), and he loved her, but Neville's father didn't approve of the marriage and sent Neville to live in Egypt. Diana would eventually marry a man named David (his best friend, a drunk named Jeffry was played by Douglas Fairbanks Jr.). When the cops come for David, he jumps to his death and Diana keeps secret why the cops were after him. Neville also marries, but he is constantly distracted by his love for Diana.

The book that the movie was based on, The Green Hat was a best seller and made Michael Arlen a star, but the censors refused to allow just about everything from the book. A lot of the plot had to be reworked, the sex and sexual topics like VD were removed, and the names of the characters and the title of the movie had to be changed. The censors really did a number on this movie and what came out of it was a pretty tame romance.

It had all of the usual elements of a Garbo/Gilbert romance. A lot of sexual tension between lovers who weren't allowed to love each other. Garbo being one of the top draws means the production of the movie was top notch and the performances were great. Expecially by Douglas Fairbanks Jr. who played a drunk. Having said that, I knew what was coming throughout the film. The film is so full of sexual tension that there is no tension. The audience knows what's going to happen. It's the same story in every movie with these two in it.

Entertainment Rating: 5/10
Historical Rating: 6/10
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Old 11-03-2008, 12:20 AM   #169
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The Mysterious Lady (1928)



Directed by: Fred Niblo
Starring: Greta Garbo, Conrad Nagel
Length: 96 min.
Genre: Romance / Spy
Based on: "War in the Dark", novel by Ludwig Wolff


Tania (Greta Garbo) meets Karl (Conrad Nagel). They fall in love. The problem? Karl is an officer in the Austrian army and Tania is a Russian spy. She was sent to target Captain Karl von Raden, but she genuinely falls in love. However, she can't exactly just quit her job for him. She must carry out her mission.

Karl is informed that she is a spy and is given documents to transport. She follows him onto the train where he tells her that he knows she's a spy. She confesses and pleads with him to giver her a chance. He denies her and turns her away. That night, she steals the documents. Karl is court martialed and sent to prison for treason. He escapes to go get his revenge.

This movie was much better than A Women of Affairs, and to date, is my favorite Garbo movie. It was nice to see a Garbo movie where she didn't play a character that was born evil (like in Flesh and the Devil) or a simple romance where two people who couldn't be together due to one or both being married (Seriously, the 1920s LOVED their movies about affairs). Espionage is a far cooler reason to keep two lovers apart.

Entertainment Rating: 7/10
Historical Rating: 8/10

Last edited by sabotai : 11-03-2008 at 12:20 AM.
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Old 11-10-2008, 03:57 PM   #170
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Street Angel (1928)



Directed by: Frank Borzage
Starring: Janet Gaynor, Charles Farroll, Guido Trento
Length: 102 min.
Genre: Drama / Romance
Based on: "Christilinda", a novel by Monckton Hoffe



1927-1298 Best Actress in a Lead Role - Janet Gaynor (for body of work)


Angela (Janet Gaynor) is a poor girl trying to take care of her mother. She goes so far to as attempt to become a prostitute and thief, but she is caught and sent to prison for 1 year. With the help of some circus folk, she escapes. She spend her time with the traveling circus until she falls in love with a painter, Gino (Charles Farroll).

They leave the circus so that Gino can attempt to become a well known painter, but they go to Naples, the city that Angela fled from. She does not tell Gino of her past, even when it catches up to her when a police officer, Neri (Guido Trento) recognizes her and sends her to a workhouse to serve her jail time. Gino is led to believe that Angela simply left him. She did not want him to know about her past.

Another so-so movie. It was really a rehash of a plot I've seen many times already. A typical "dirty secret" romance. Gaynor's performance is really the main reason to see this movie, and she is very convincing in her acting. I have yet to see an actress be able to show sadness or fear (and sometimes, both at the same time) as well as she did in Street Angel and in Sunrise. In fact, I'm having a hard time trying to think of an actress that has been able to act with her eyes as well as she did. Charles Farroll also did a good job in his role, but it's hard to stand out when next to Janet Gaynor.

Thankfully, Gaynor is one of the stars that successfully made the transition from silent to sound. She continued to act through the 30s, starring in several more movies with Charles Farroll.

My Rating: 6/10

Last edited by sabotai : 05-10-2009 at 06:14 PM.
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Old 12-19-2008, 10:27 AM   #171
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Ok, an update for me. I finally found the missing few I had left and finished both AFI lists. We had to add TCM to catch them, but youtube actually has quite a few of the hard to find ones.
Since then, I watched a few more old ones from "The A List: 100 Essential Films" and "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die." (or whatver it's called.)

Here's some ratings:
  • The Man with a Movie Camera (3.7/4)
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (3.0/4)
  • The African Queen (3.5/4)
  • Wuthering Heights (2.9/4)
  • Nosferatu (3.1/4)
  • Sunrise (3.8/4)
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Old 03-14-2009, 10:14 PM   #172
sabotai
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With my other hobbies and commitments, I have not watched many movies these past few months. I had a stack of DVDs from Netflix sitting here since January and finally got through a few of them. Anyway, I've been steadily watching more movies lately, so time to fire this back up.

La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928)
English: The Passion of Joan of Arc



Directed By: Carl Theodor Dreyer
Starring: Maria Falconetti, Eugene Silvain
Length: 110 minutes
Genre: Drama


One of the highest rated silent movies to come from France, I thought it was quite boring.

The first half of the movie is the trial of Joan of Arc (Maria Falconetti) and the second half is her confessing, taking back her confession and then being executed. I was so sick of seeing her cry for nearly two hours, I was happy to see her burn.

Ok, I'm being a bit harsh. Considering the time and place, the movie was pretty controversial. The clerigy grilled Joan to try to get he to conform to what the church said and to confess to her crimes, but Joan constantly replied with blasphemis statements. Maria Falconetti's performance is acclaimed, even today.

My biggest problem with the movie is that just about the entire film is done with close ups of the actors. Close up of a judge, close up of Joan, close up of another judge, close up of Joan. Close up of judge asking a question, close up of Joan crying and answering, close up of judge being shocked, close up of another judge being shocked, close up of Joan crying, close up of Judge asking another question, close up of Joan crying and answering, close up of shocked judge, over and over and over again for the first 30-40 minutes. And the movie takes 1-2 minute per question and response. Ask the question, show Joan crying for a good 10 seconds before answering, and then show shocked judges for 20-30 seconds, and then take 30 more seconds to ask another question. It was just so incredbily slow.

It started to pick up half way through when the trial finally ended, but by then I was so fatigued I just couldn't get into it. I absolutely hated the increibly slow pace of this film, and I'm apparently in the small minority here.

My Rating: 4/10
IMDB User Rating: 8.1/10 (8,853 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 100% (26)

As you can see, I'm way off on this one. I'm changing the way I do ratings. Before, I rated purely on how entertained I was by the film and then tried to rate it on historical importance, the quality for its time period, etc. I figure why do that when other sources basically do that for me. So "My Rating" will just be how much I enjoyed the film and I'll throw in a few other ratings from other sources as comparison.
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Old 03-14-2009, 10:49 PM   #173
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La Chute de la Maison Usher (1928)
English: Fall of the House of Usher




Directed By: Jean Epstein
Starring: Jean Debucourt, Marguerite Gance
Length: 63 min
Genre: Horror
Based On: "Fall of the House of Usher" Short Story by Edgar Allen Poe


Maybe it was just something about French film making. Like La Passion, this movie was very slow paced. The nice special effects did a good job of distracting me from the total nothing that was going on. Except for this film, the slow pace worked.

I won't explain the plot, since if you don't know it already you should be ashamed of yourself. One major difference, though, is that it's changed to a married couple rather than siblings.

The effects were pretty decent. As the movie goes along, everything just gets...weirder. The director did a really good job at setting the mood. Outside of the effects and the mood, though, the movie wasn't really all that good. The acting was nothing to write home about, pace felt slow, and it didn't really hold my attention. I nearly fell asleep while watching it.

My Rating: 5/10
IMDB User Rating: 7.3/10 (691 votes)
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Old 03-29-2009, 06:48 PM   #174
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Easy Virtue (1928)



Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: Isabel Jeans, Robin Irvine
Length: 79 min
Genre: Drama
Based on: Play "Easy Virtue" by Noel Coward


One of Alfred Hitchcock's last silent movies (the last one on our journey since the next one will be Blackmail, his first sound picture). I saw a lot of what would become Hitchcock in The Lodger, but I hardly saw any of that in this movie.

The film starts with Larita Filton (Isabel Jeans) being accused of loving someone else by her rich husband. There is a scandalous trial, the press covers it, and when it's over, she flees the area. She finds another man, John Whitaker (Robin Irvine), to marry her, but his family does not like her at all.

One day, the chance for his family to get rid of her comes when they learn of her true identity. They confront Larita and tell John. At first, they make plans for her to leave, but must hold off since there is a huge party being held. Larita decides to crash the party, however, and win back John's heart.

A pretty standard cut-and-paste drama. There was a bit of Hitchcock experimenting with camera shots, and for the Hitchcock fanatic, it's obviously a must see. But other than the draw of being a Hitchcock movie, there is nothing in this movie that stands out. Nothing stands out as being bad, but it's just an average film.

My Rating: 5/10
IMDB User Rating: 5.8/10 (695 votes)
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Old 03-29-2009, 07:23 PM   #175
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The Man Who Laughs (1928)



Directed by: Paul Leni
Starring: Conrad Veidt, Mary Philbin
Length: 110 min
Genre: Drama
Based on: Novel "The Man Who Laughs" by Victor Hugo


Gwynplaine (Conrad Veidt) is the son of a nobleman who has offended the king. The king kills the nobleman and has his surgeon carve a smile onto Gwynplaine's face. He is left behind by the gypsies he was left with and wanders around until he finds an abandoned blind child named Dea (Mary Philbin).

Years later, Gwynplaine and Dea perform plays for a public fascinated by Gwynplaine's disfigurement. Gwynplaine has also fallen in love with Dea, but will not allow himself to be with her. Queen Anna, the king's successor, is informed of Gwynplaine's lineage by her jester. The Queen arranges a marriage between a duchess and Gwynplaine and has Dea and the rest of Gwynplaine's friends banished. Gwynplaine escapes the castle, though, and flees the country with Dea. Happily ever after. The end.

A pretty good movie, but formulaic. The ending was changed to a happy ending, as is the usual case with movies made from tragedies. Gwynplaine, in case you can't tell from the picture above, was the inspiration for The Joker. Without this movie, The Joker might look very different today.

Universal wanted another "gothic drama" following the success of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera, and had originally wanted Lon Cheney for this movie, but he had signed a long term deal with MGM. The film's producer, Carl Laemmle, had connections to the German film industry, and recruited Paul Leni (The Cat and the Canary) and Conradr Veidt (played Cesare in The Cabinent of Dr. Caligari) for this movie.

My Rating: 7/10
IMDB Rating: 8.0/10 (900 Votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 100% (6 reviews)
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Old 04-17-2009, 12:52 AM   #176
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Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928)



Directed by: Charles Reisner
Starring: Buster Keaton, Marion Byron, Ernest Torrence, Tom McGuire
Length: 71 min.
Genre: Comedy
Based On: Screenplay by Buster Keaton*


One of Buster Keaton's better movies, and what had become typical by this time, one the critics did not like. It also includes his most famous stunt which everyone surely has seen.

Willian Canfield Jr. (Buster Keaton) finishes college and goes to follow in his father's footsteps by becoming a steamboat captain. His father (Ernest Torrence), when he sees his son for the first time in a long time, is completely disappointed and sets out to turn his "fancy" son into a real man.

Shortly after arriving, William also runs into a woman he knew in college, Kitty King (Marion Byron). He is completely smitten with her, but she is the daughter of a rival steamboat caption, John James King (Tom McGuire). Hilarity ensues as William's father tries to turn his son into a man (from trying to dress him to him teaching him how to do various jobs on the ship) while also trying to keep him from seeing Kitty.

Kitty's father eventually uses his influence to get William's father's boat condemned. Sr. fights back and is arrested. William Jr. tries to bust out his father, but ultimately fails and ends up in the hospital. The weather turns back and a cyclone blows through the town. William leaves the hospital and fights the storm as he tries to be the hero.

During the cyclone sequence is when we see the stunt that Keaton is most famous for. He's standing in front of a house when the front of it falls forward. Keaton is (quite literally) saved when his body is missed by the facade because a window was open.

The film was panned by critics. Again. This would be his last independant film for United Artists. His run lasted from 1923 (Three Ages and Our Hospitality) to 1928 (Steamboat Bill Jr.). After this, he signs with MGM, and except for his first movie for them (The Cameraman), the studio did not let him have creative control. He would keep making movies in the '30s and '40s (and then make TV appearances in the '50s), but none of them would gain the (modern) popularity of his silent masterpieces.

My Rating: 9/10
IMDB User Rating: 7.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 100% (14 reviews - 9.1/10)

* - Officially, Carl harbaurgh is listed as the writer, but he didn't do anything. Keaton did all the work.
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Old 04-19-2009, 10:17 PM   #177
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Four Sons (1928)



Directed by: John Ford
Starring: Margaret Mann, James Hall, Charles Morton, Ralph Bushman, George Meeker
Length: 100 min.
Genre: Drama
Based on: "Grandma Bernle Learns Her Letters" by I. A. R. Wylie


One of, what has become, a flood of World War I movies. Throughout the 20s, it seemed like no one would touch the war, but I guess the movie moguls found out that war = ticket sales.

This movie is about the widow Mother Bernle, and her four son who semi-scatter throughout the world. Joseph moves to America, Franz joins the German army while Andreas and Johann both work near home. Andreas tends to the sheep while Johann works the forge.

When war breaks out, Andreas and Johann both join the war. Joseph marries in America and starts running his own store. Things start going bad for Mother Bernle when her sons start coming home dead, and when America joins the war and Joseph enlists for the Americans, Mother Bernle becomes "mother of a traitor".

When the war is over, and Mother Bernle has no reason to stay in her hometown, she moves to America to be with her only remaining son.

Yes, this was quite a downer of a movie. It also wasn't all that good. A very forgettable movie that didn't stand out in any way. One point of trivia would be that this was one of John Wayne's first movies. His 7th, to be exact. He appears as an uncredited extra. He only appears in 1 movie priot to the 1930 movie "The Big Trail" in which he appears in the credits, and that would be "Words and Magic". He appears in almost 20 movies before "The Big Trail" in which he is in extra/uncredited roles.

My Rating: 4/10
IMDB User Rating: 6.9 (151 votes)
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Old 04-19-2009, 11:58 PM   #178
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Speedy (1928)



Directed by: Ted Wilde
Starring: Harold Lloyd, Ann Christy, Bert Woodruff
Length: 86 min
Genre: Comedy


A bit odd to watch a movie based on stopping technological progress...in the 1920s. The movie is about trying to save the last horse-drawn trolley in New York. It's actually a bit weird to think that the "subway" used to be horse-drawn trolleys....

Speedy (Harold Lloyd) can't seem to hold down a job. He starts off the movie as a soda jerk, but loses the job after a day. The reason is because he can't stop calling in to get the latest scores for the baseball game (yes...using the telephone to get the latest scores....one thing that watching silent movies has done for me is they have made me appreciate technology so much more....ok, back to the review). After spending the day with his girl at Coney Island, Speedy gets a job driving a cab.

Speeedy ends up picking up Babe Ruth in his cab. Ruth has a pretty lengthy cameo. Speedy nearly kills Ruth as he rushes him to the stadium for his game, but Ruth invites Speedy to watch the game. Ruth was actually a big fan of Lloyd's.

Speedy's girl's grandfather runs a horse-drawn trolley, and he is being pushed out by someone trying to take over all of the routes and eliminate the horse-drawn trolleys through a loophole in the contract. When his girl's grandfather is unable to run his route, it's up to Speedy to save the day! (which he, of course, does in the most hilarious way possible).

There were a few lulls in this movie, but overall, one of Lloyd's best. All of the major sequences were incredibly funny, from the opening scene of him being a soda jerk to the attampt to run the route to save his girl's grandfather's horse-drawn trolley. This ends up as one of my favorite Harold Lloyd films.

It also ends our journey through the silents of the comedian Harold Lloyd. After this, he would make a handful of talkie comedies, starting with 1929's "Welcome Danger". But the IMDB User Ratings for his talkie comedies are all a full point lower than the ratings for his silent comedies. Looks like the transition from silent to sound isn't too kind to Harold Lloyd.

My Rating: 9/10
IMDB User Rating: 7.8/10 (751 votes)
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Old 04-20-2009, 04:02 PM   #179
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Just wanted to let you know I'm reading your thread as well. Speedy is one of my favorite silent comedies. I just loved the whole spirit of the film. My favorite scene actually wasn't even a comedy scene, but when they're riding home in the back of the van, rearranging the furniture and imagining what their future life might be like.
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Old 04-26-2009, 10:25 PM   #180
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Spione (1928)
English: Spies



Directed by: Fritz Lang
Starring: Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Gerda Maurus, Lien Dyers
Length: 178 minutes
Genre: Drama / Thriller

Nation: Germany

Haghi (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) leads a double life. He is both a bank manager and the leader of a spy ring. Here is the plot summery from wikipedia:

"With the help of technology, informers and moles, Haghi leads a secret life as the head of an international spy ring. Haghi is confined to a wheelchair and bank director, a job that apparently makes him richer than Henry Ford, although he "pays significantly less in taxes". Haghi has safes burgled, secret documents stolen, diplomats assassinated and generally has the British Secret Service running around in circles. To counter this, the British assign their best agent, Number 326, to topple the diabolical king from his throne. Haghi is wise to this plan and assigns the beautiful Russian agent Sonja to seduce him. Sonja finds Number 326 so suave that she falls almost immediately in love with him and then things really get complicated. Featuring disappearing ink, bulletproof wallets, hidden microphones and more than one action-packed chase scene, Spies can be considered the granddad of the James Bond films. The heroes finally catch up to Haghi when they infiltrate a circus where he is pretending to be a clown called Nemo and he commits suicide. The circus-goers applaud his hara-kiri; they think it is all a big show."

I found the movie boring. At over 2 1/2 hours, it just drags out. In Metropolis, Lang's previous movie, kept moving at a nice pace with about the same running time. Spione, in between the sparse action, did practically nothing.

Aside from the pace, the movie was ok. It was very interesting to see the 1920's take on the gadgets that spies would use in a spy thriller. Micro- technology must have been really foreighn to the world of 1920 Germany though, since every gadget was massive and...pretty obvious. Still, an ok spy thriller that gets really boring in spots.

My Rating: 5/10
IMDB User Rating: 7.7/10 (621 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 100% (9.3/10 - 6 reviews)

Last edited by sabotai : 04-26-2009 at 10:25 PM.
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Old 04-26-2009, 10:54 PM   #181
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In Old Arizona (1928)



Directed by: Irving Cummings
Starring: Warner Baxter, Edmund Lowe, Dorothy Burgess
Length: 95 min
Genre: Western
Based on: The Caballero's Way by O. Henry (the Cisco Kid character from the story)



1930 Best Picture Nominee
1930 Best Cinematogrophy Nominee
1930 Best Director Nominee
1930 Best Writing Nominee
1930 Best Actor Winner - Warner Baxter


(Why would a 1928 movie be in the 1930 Oscars? Because in the 1930 Oscars, they gave out the award for movies released between 2 August 1928 and 31 July 1929. In Old Arizona premiered Dec 25th, 1928)

The Cisco Kid (Warner Baxter) is hunted by the sheriff Mickey Dunn (Edmund Lowe). In between the two is the Tonia Maria (Dorothy Burgess), love interest of The Cisco Kid, but who is always entertaining other men in his absence.

The sheriff would end up falling for Tonia, and she sues that to her advantage as she tries to set up The Cisco Kid so that she can collect the reward from the sheriff and move on - without her new lover the sheriff.

Eventually, The Cisco Kid learns of her unfaithfulness and pulls a double cross on her. He learns that the sheriff will be waiting to shoot him outside of Tonia's home, so he alters the message that he intercepted and sets it up so that the sheriff shoots Tonia. As The Cisco Kid leaves, he hears the shot.

This was the first all-talkie western and one of the first all-talkie movies. Baxter was great as the very charismatic Cisco Kid, and Dorothy Burgess did pretty well as the annoying and deceptive Tonia. A decent Sheriff vs. Outlaw western with some great acting, but too basic of a plot for my tastes.

Warner Baxter will return as The Cisco Kid a few more times in The Cisco Kid (1931) and Return of the Cisco Kid (1939).

My Rating: 6/10
IMDB Rating: 6.3/10 (150 votes)
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Old 04-27-2009, 09:48 PM   #182
Buccaneer
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Great writeups, as usual.
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Old 05-03-2009, 10:47 PM   #183
sabotai
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The Circus (1928)



Directed by: Charlie Chaplin
Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Al Ernest Garcia, Merna Kennedy
Length: 71 min.
Genre: Comedy
Based on: Screenplay written by Charlie Chaplin


The Tramp Goes To The Circus!

The Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) ends up being chased around by the cops after he's caught pick pocketing. He's chased into the tent where a performance is being given and the crowd, think it's part of the act, love the antics they see. The Ring Master (Al Ernest Garcia) hires the Tramp. However, he soon learns that the Tramp just is not funny. He makes him a janitor, and forces him in front of the crowd and waits for hilarity to ensue when the Tramp eventually messes up.

The Tramp also is in love with the Ring Master's daughter (Merna Kennedy). A tight-rope walker is hired, and she falls for him. The Tramp is heart broken when he finds this out and is unable to perform. When the tight-rope walker misses a day, The Tramp sees it as a chance to win her heart and goes on.

In the end, however, The Tramp realizes the Ring Master's daughter wants to be with the tight-rope walker, so he gets them together and they get married. The Circus leaves town, but The Tramp stays behind.

The making of the film took a long time. Chaplin's bitter divorce from his 2nd wife, a nervous breakdown and his studio batching fire all contributed to the movie taking over a year to make. It's estimated that it cost $900,000, but it also made $3.8 million, making it one of the highest grossing silent movies.

This was a funny movie, but not one of Chaplin's better comedies. I found The Gold Rush to be a lot funnier. Still, "not one of Chaplin's best" is still pretty damn funny.

My Rating: 7/10
IMDB User Rating: 7.9/10 (4,723 votes)
Rotten Tomaotes: 100% (11 reviews, 8.6/10)

Last edited by sabotai : 05-05-2009 at 02:08 AM.
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Old 05-03-2009, 11:15 PM   #184
larrymcg421
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I actually found myself liking The Circus more than any other Chaplin film I've seen yet. I think the opening chase sequence is incredibly funny, especially the mirror maze sequence. And it had an amazing ending, with an iconic final shot.
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Old 05-10-2009, 05:39 PM   #185
sabotai
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I liked the opening too. Especially right after the mirror scene where Chaplin pretends to be one of the automatons. Once it got to the actual cricus part, though, it seemed to lose steam to me. All of the best stuff happened in the first 30 minutes.
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Old 05-10-2009, 06:03 PM   #186
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Tempest (1928)



Directed by: Sam Taylor
Starring: John Barrymore, Camilla Horn, Louis Wolheim
Length: 111 min.
Genre: War Drama
Based on: Screenplay written by Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko




1929 Oscar for Best Art Direction (William Cameron Menzies)


Ivan Markov (John Barrymore) is working his way up the ranks of the Russian army, the first peasant to do so in a long time. He makes Lieutenant but also falls for Princess Tamara (Camilla Horn), who is also the daughter of his commanding officer. He is not accepted into high society, and is especially not accepted by the Princess.

He gets drunk at a large party held at the Princess' residence. He wanders into her room and looks around. He eventually passes out on her bed. She finds him when she goes to bed and calls for help. Markov is taken away, stripped of rank, and thrown in prison.

The Red Terror saves Markov. He is released from prison and is reunited, in a manner of speaking, with the Princess and her father.

The movie itself is pretty forgettable. It didn't really do anything that hadn't been done before and the performances by everyone were average, except for Barrymore as he was locked in prison and losing his mind. That was pretty good, as was his performance after he was released when he was looking for revenge.

My Rating: 4/10
IMDB User Rating: 7.4/10 (71 votes)
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Old 05-10-2009, 06:36 PM   #187
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1928 in Review

The sound era is just about dead. We'll keep seeing silent movies pop up due to some's refusal to embrace sound (like Charlie Chaplin). Studios also were reluctant to put their top stars out there as they saw stars drop off like flies when the public rejected them in sound form.

I cut 1928 a bit short. I cut out Laugh, Clown, Laugh and The Crowd. Those I can find on YouTube, but not DVD. I tried to watch them, but sitting in a computer chair watching a movie is not a fun way to spend 2 hours. The problem of having some of the best movies from a year not being on DVD will soon be over though.

A Look At The Oscars

For the first few years of the Oscars, they award movies that were released from August of one year to the end of July of the next, so these lists will include movies from 2 years for a bit.

The 1929 Awards were for movies released from 1 August 1927 to 1 August 1928.

Best Picture, Production
Winner: Wings (My Rating: 8)
Nominee: 7th Heaven (Not Rated)
Nominee: The Racket (Not Rated)

Best Picture, Unique and Artistic Production
Winner: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (My Rating: 8)
Nominee: Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness (My Rating: 5)
Nominee: The Crowd (Not Rated)

Best Actor in a Leading Role
Winner: Emil Jennings for The Last Command and The Way Of The Flesh (Not Rated)
Nominee: Richard Barthelmess for The Noose (Not Rated)
Nominee: Richard Barthelmess for The Patent Leather Kid (Not Rated)

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Winner: Janet Gaynor for 7th heaven (NR), Street Angel (6), and Sunrise (8)
Nominee: Louise Dresser for A Ship Comes In (NR)
Nominee: Gloria Swanson for Sadie Thompson (NR)

Best Director, Comedy Picture
Winner: Lewis Milestone for Two Arabian Nights (NR)
Nominee: Ted Wilde for Speedy (9)

Best Director, Dramatic Picture
Winner: Frank Borzage for 7th Heaven (NR)
Nominee: Herbert Brenon for Sorrell and Son (NR)
Nominee: King Vidor for The Crowd (NR)

Best Writing, Original Story
Winner: Ben Hecht for Underworld (NR)
Nominee: Lajos Biró for The Last Command (NR)

Best Writing, Adaptation
Winner: Benjamin Glazer for 7th Heaven (NR)
Nominee: Anthony Caldeway for Glorious Betsy (NR)
Nominee: Alfred A Cohn for The Jazz Singer (7)

Best Cinematography
Winner: Charles Rosher and Karl Strauss for Sunrise (8)
Nominee: George Barnes for Sadie Thompson (NR), The Devil Dancer (NR) and The Magic Flame (NR)

Best Art Direction
Winner: William Cameron Menzies for The Tempest (4) and The Dove (NR)
Nominee: Harry Oliver for 7th Heaven (NR)
Nominee: Richard Gliese for Sunrise (8)

Best Effects, Engineering Effects
Winner: Roy Pomeroy for Wings (8)
Nominee: Ralph Hammeras for The Private Life of Helen of Troy (NR)
Nominee: Nugent Slaughter for The Jazz Singer (7)

Honorary Awards
Charlie Chaplin - The Circus (7)
- For versatility and genius in acting, writing, directing and producing The Circus.
The Jazz Singer (7)
- For producing The Jazz Singer, the pioneer outstanding talking picture, which has revolutionized the industry.

Last edited by sabotai : 05-10-2009 at 06:38 PM.
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Old 05-10-2009, 08:49 PM   #188
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Location: The Satellite of Love
Movies for 1929

Die Buchse der Pandora (Pandora's Box) (Germany - Drama)
Tagebuch einer Verlorenen (Diary of a Lost Girl) (Germany - Drama)
Frau im Mond (Woman in the Moon) (Germany - Sci-Fi)
Prapancha Pash (A Throw of Dice) (India - Drama)
Le Capitaine Fracasse (Captain Fracasse) (France - Adventure)
Chelovek s kino-apparatom (Man With A Camera) (Russia - Documentary)

6 Foreign movies including my first Indian movie and a highly regarded Russian documentary about urban life in Odessa and other soviet cities and also uses many experimental techniques.

Hallelujah (Musical)
The Love Parade (Musical)
The Broadway Melody (Musical)
The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (Musical)
The Vagabond Lover (Musical)

5 Musicals. Seems like once sound hit the movies, so did the musicals.

Queen Kelly (Drama)
The Divine Lady (Drama)
Piccadilly (Crime Drama)
The Iron Mask (Adventure)
The Kiss (Greta Garbo Romance)
Their Own Desire (Romance)
The Locked Door (Mystery)
The Cocoanuts (Marx Brothers Comedy)
The Taming of the Shrew (Comedy)
Spite Marriage (Buster Keaton Comedy)
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Old 05-12-2009, 09:35 AM   #189
sterlingice
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Just ran across this thread. Amazing idea and great read. You have another follower

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Old 05-14-2009, 10:28 PM   #190
ColtCrazy
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Count me in as a late comer, but engrossed in this. Very entertaining. I stayed up late the other night and TMC or AMC (I can't remember) had some silent Chinese film on from the 20s. I found it strangely interesting and a solid story. I can understand how you can get into these older films. Keep it up, you tell the stories of these movies very well.
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Old 05-15-2009, 11:14 PM   #191
sabotai
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Blackmail (1929)



Directed by: Aldred Hitchcock
Starring: Anna Ondra, John Longdon, Donald Calthrop
Length: 84 min
Genre: Crime Drama
Based on: Play "Blackmail" written by Charles Bennett


Alfred Hitchcock's first talkie.

Alice White (Anna Ondra) gets into a fight with her boyfriend, Frank Webber (John Longdon) who works as a detective. She goes back to an apartment of an artist she had previously met and they flirt back and forth. Things turn ugly when he has had enough flirting and wants more. He tries to physcially force himself on her, and Alice grabs a knife and stabs him to death.

She panics, tries to erase all evidence that she was there, but not only did she leave a glove behind, a petty criminal called Tracy (Donald Calthrop) sees her. Frank is put on the case and finds the glove. He confronts Alice the next day, and shortly after, Tracy confronts both of them. Tracy tries to blackmail them, but things turn around on him when he is made the prime suspect.

The film started out production as a silent movie and was switched to a talkie. The awkwardness is very noticeable, especially at the beginning. Apparently, the studio wanted just the last reel in sound (they were influenced by The Jazz Singer, a mostly silent part-talkie). Hitchcock thought that was absurd and secretly filmed the whole thing in sound. Another point of trivia, Anna Ondra had a thick German accent, so they had Joan Barry speak her lines into a microphone as they filmed. That may have been the first ever "dub".

The sound-on-film equipment was bulky and not easily moved. The camera had to stay stationary in these early sound pictures. It seemed like Hitchcock experimented as best he could with what he had, but the technology just wasn't there. But some scenes are very "Hitchcock-esque", mainly the chase scenes where there are no talking (and so they would be using the easier-to-use silent equipment).

A good movie, though, despite the limitations of the technology. Definitely a transitional movie for Hitchcock as he continues to evolve into the director everyone knows about, and one that should be seen by any fan of his work.

My Rating: 7/10
IMDB Rating: 7.0/10 (2,646 voites)
Rotten Tomatoes: 89% - 9 reviews (8 fresh, 1 rotten) - 6.7/10 average

This isn't on the above list. I forgot that this was on the same disc as Easy Virtue, so instead of renting the DVD twice, I watched it back when I had watched Easy Virtue. Consider it a bonus movie.

Lastly, thanks for the kind words and welcome aboard SI and Colt!

Last edited by sabotai : 05-15-2009 at 11:15 PM.
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Old 07-12-2009, 07:46 PM   #192
sabotai
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The Cameraman (1928)



Directed by: Edward Segdwick
Starring: Buster Keaton, Marceline Day, Harold Goodwin
Length: 67 min
Genre: Comedy
Based On: Screenplay by Clyde Bruckman, Lew Lipton

Another bonus movie as this was on the same DVD as Spite Marriage.

The story begins with Buster (Buster Keaton), a tintype portrait photographer, on the streets of New York City. He ends up having someone agree to have their portrait done, and is struck by her beauty. Sally (Marceline Day) is followed by Buster to her place of work, MGM News. Buster trades in his tintype camera for a movie camera, an out of date but cheap movie camera, and tries to impress her by recording what he sees to sell to MGM News.

His first attempt is a disaster. He doesn't know how to use the camera and all of his footage is overexposed, backwards, double exposed...every mistake he could make, he made.

The next day, Sally feels sorry for him and passes a tip to him that something gib is going to happen in Chinatown. He goes and films a gang war, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

This was the first film that Buster Keaton did for MGM, and for the most part, it was a Buster Keaton film. However, MGM didn't like the final result even though it was well recieved by critics. Keaton thought the success of The Cameraman was proof that the studio should let him have more control of his films. MGM thought the opposite and would take complete control of everything. The result was that after several years, Keaton's reputation was destroyed.

He had joined MGM mainly because of his lifestyle....his wife's lifestyle. By now, Keaton's marriage was all but over, but the lifestyle of him and his wife was very expensive. MGM came promising money and he took it even though both Lloyd and Chaplin told him not too. All of the movies before this one were made independantly.

My Rating: 7/10
IMDB User Rating: 8.3/10 (3005 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 100% (8.8/10 - 12 reviews)
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Old 07-12-2009, 08:59 PM   #193
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Spite Marriage (1929)



Directed by: Edward Sedgwick
Starring: Buster Keaton, Dorothy Sebastian, Edward Earle
Length: 80 min
Genre: Comedy
Written by: Screenplay by Lew Lipton


This is the movie where it all starts to fall apart.

Elmer (Buster Keaton) works as a dry cleaner, and is in love with a stage actress named Tribly Drew (Dorothy Sebastian). He even waits around and makes sure he passes her on the street as she leaves the theatre...and other kinda creepy things. When her boyfriend leaves her to marry a socialite, she gets even by grabbing Elmer during one of these "chance" encounters and marries him to get back at her boyfriend.

The movie was...ok. Some funny scenes included Buster trying to put his wife in bed since she passed out from drinking too much. The scene where Buster stands in for another actor on stage is pretty funny as well. But the movie, as a whole, was just not that good. To highlight how MGM didn;t know what it was doing, the funny seen with Buster putting his wife in bed was nearly cut by the studio. Buster fought hard to keep that scene in. One of his rare victories over the studio.

Keaton was also one of the few silent stars that embraced sound. He grew up on vaudeville and had a great voice. He didn't understand why the studio wanted to keep him in silent films. He'd finally get his wish to start being in sound pictures with the 1930 film "Free and Easy".

My Rating: 5 / 10
IMDB Rating: 7.3/10 (526 Votes)

Last edited by sabotai : 07-12-2009 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 01-09-2010, 05:32 PM   #194
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Die Büchse der Pandora (1929)
English: Pandora's Box



Directed by: Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Starring: Louise Brooks, Francis Lederer, Carl Goetz
Length: 133 min
Genre: Crime Drama
Nation: Germany
Based on the plays "Erdgeist" and "Die Büchse der Pandora" by Frank Wedekind

I tried searching to see if this was one of the first times Jack The Ripper makes an appearance in pop culture, but I couldn't find it.

Disaster seems to follow Lulu (Louise Brooks) around wherever she goes. Her sexuality brings out lust and animal like behavior by men. She marries a wealthy man, but he becomes insane and she accidentally shoots him. She is convicted of manslaughter, but with the help of her "pimp" and her dead husband's son, Alwa (Francis Ledere), who is in love with Lulu, she escapes.

They hide for awhile on an illegal gambling ship, but after she is nearly sold by the ship's owner to a wealthy Egyptian to help pay off the gambling debt that Alwa had built up. The three once again are able to flee, this time to London.

In London, Lulu meets her ultimate fate when, working as a prostitute, she crosses paths with Jack The Ripper.

I was pretty underwhelmed by the film based on all of the praise it gets. It was good, but not great. The actors played their roles well enough, but the story just seemed forced.

One piece of trivia is that while on the gambling ship, a woman named Countess Anna Geschwitz takes a liking to Lulu. It's thought that this is the first lesbian character in movie history. The movie was banned in several nations, including Germany from 1933-1945 (during the Thrid Reich). In France, the film the was heavily edited - they removed the Jack The Ripper scene, had her found not guilty at her trial, made the Countess her childhood friend and in the end, Lulu joins the Salvation Army.....I wonder if I can find that version to see just how butchered it was.

My Rating: 6/10
IMDB: 8/10 (3,042 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 91% (21/23 Fresh - 8.5/10 Rating)
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Old 01-09-2010, 06:11 PM   #195
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Prapancha Pash (1929)
English: A Throw of Dice



Directed by: Franz Osten
Starring: Seeta Devi, Himansu Rai, Charu Roy
Length: 74 min
Genre: Drama
Nation: India
Based On: A story from the epic poem "The Mahabharata"

Two cousins rule their kingdoms, but one wants control of both. King Ranjit has a love of gambling, and King Sohan has a desire for Ranjit's lands. On top of that, they both fall for a woman named Sunita. Sunita falls for Ranjit.

Sohan schemes to get both. He gives Ranjit dice as a gift, but they are no ordinary dice. He convinces Ranjit to gamble for their kingdoms, and Sohan uses the trick dice to win. On a double or nothing kind of bet, Sohan again uses the trick dice to make Ranjit his slave.

A moral play about the dangers of gambling, obviously. The film was mostly produced and made by a German production company, but cinema had been a part of India since the Lumiere Brothers showed off their Cinématographe in Bombay in 1896.

This film is often compared to a Cecil B. Demille film because of the size of the movie. 10,000 extras, a thousand horses, and many elephants and tigers were used for the film. Not to mention the extravegant costumes.

My Rating: 7/10
IMDB: 7.0/10 (54 votes)
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Old 01-12-2010, 01:08 AM   #196
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The Taming of the Shrew (1929)



Directed by: Sam Taylor
Starring: Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford
Length: 63 min
Genre: Comedy
Based On: William Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew"


And so the beginning of the end for two of the most iconic figures of the silent era.

Katherine (Mary Pickford) is a well known....hate-filled bitch, to put it in modern terms. Her younger sister, however, is a perfectly fine lady that is unable to wed by her father's command until her older sister is married. Petruchio (Douglas Fairbanks) takes up the challenge of marrying Katherine.

The movie is 90% them fighting. It gets a bit funny near the end when Katherine starts turning the tables on Petruchio and starts agreeing with everything he says. But overall, not funny. A pretty bad movie.

The film was originally shot as a silent movie, and the sound effects and dialogue were added later. Why the two of them picked this junk to make their one and only dual venture is beyond me. In searching the web, I find a lot of people actually like the movie. For only being 60 minutes long, I had enough right around 15 minute mark, after what must have been Fairbanks' 40th or 41st from-the-belly laughing fit.

Which, in a way, is what I think they were trying to bring to audiences. For over a decade, people got to see Fairbanks laugh on screen. So much so that it became a part of his image. But they never got to hear it. Perhaps they had enough of it by the end of this movie too. Those who saw it anyway. The film was a massive flop. Both Fairbanks and Pickford only have a few years left. They are both gone from the movies by 1934. Which is a shame, because despite how bad this one film was, neither has a voice that is unsuitable for the "talkies".

My Rating: 4/10
IMDB: 7.2/10 (218 Votes)
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Old 03-06-2010, 10:56 PM   #197
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I've been stuck in 1929 for far too long. I'm going to make a series of quick reviews, since I have watched a good amount of my list, to catch me up.
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Old 03-06-2010, 11:15 PM   #198
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Tagenbuch einer Verlorenen (1929)
English Title: Diary of a Lost Girl




Directed by: Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Starring: Louise Brooks, Fritz Rasp, André Roanne
Length: 104 min.
Genre: Drama


Plot Summery from Wikipedia

Louise Brooks plays Thymian Henning, the innocent and naive daughter of pharmacist Robert Henning (Josef Rovenský). Thymian is seduced by her father's assistant Meinert (Fritz Rasp) and gives birth to an illegitimate child. Meinert is revealed to be the father by an entry in Thymian's diary, and when she refuses to marry him she is forced to leave the baby with a midwife and sent to a strict reform school for wayward girls.

Rebelling against the school's rigid discipline, Thymian and her friend Erika (Edith Meinhard) escape with the help of her father's old friend, Count Osdorff (André Roanne), but they separate. Thymian's relief is short-lived—she discovers that her baby is dead—and after despondently wandering the streets, she re-unites with Erika, who is working in a brothel.

Thymian also becomes a prostitute, but profits from her misfortune by gaining control of her own life. When her father dies, she inherits a large amount of money, after gaining "respectability" by marrying Osdorff, but gives it all to her young half-sister who has been disinherited. Osdorff, who had been counting on the money because he himself had been disinherited by his uncle (Arnold Korff), kills himself. The uncle, grief-stricken, makes Thymian his heir. In a strange twist of fate, she becomes a director of the reform school where she herself was once held. When her old friend is brought in as an "especially difficult case" who "constantly turns away from the blessings of our home", Thymian denounces the school and its "blessings". Uncle Osdorff has the last word: "A little more love and no-one would be lost in this world."

Review

The same director-lead actress duo from Pandora's Box. I thought this was a better movie that their previous one. Another movie from the 1920s that really shows how unwed mothers were shunned by society, and even made to go into reform "schools". It's interesting how much culture and society has moved in less than 100 years. Today, children born out of wedlock is no big deal. Back then, it was the most scandalous thing a woman could do (according to the movies, anyway. ).

My Rating: 7/10
IMDB User Rating: 8.0 (1,148 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 100% Fresh (8.6 - 5 Reviews)
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Old 03-06-2010, 11:38 PM   #199
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Frau im Mond (1929)
English Title: Woman in the Moon




Directed by: Fritz Lang
Starring: Klaus Pohl, Willy Fritsch, Gustav von Wangenheim
Length: 169 min
Genre: Science Fiction / Drama
Based On: "Die Frau im Mond" novel written by Thea von Harbou (Lang's wife)


Plot from Wikipedia

The film is a melodrama, with scientific speculation. Helius is an entrepreneur with an interest in space travel. He seeks out Professor Mannfeldt, a visionary who has written a treatise on the likelihood of finding gold on the moon, only to be ridiculed by his peers. Helius recognizes the value of Mannfeldt's work – but a gang of evil businessmen have also taken an interest in Mannfeldt's theories.

Meanwhile, Helius' assistant, Windegger, has announced his engagement to Helius' other assistant, the lovely Friede. This is disconcerting to Helius, who secretly loves Friede. He avoids their engagement party but is then mugged on the way home by henchmen of the evil businessmen, commanded by the creepy Mr. Turner. They steal the research of Prof. Mannfeldt and also burgle his home, taking other valuable material. They then present him with an ultimatum: they know he is planning a voyage to the moon. Either he includes them with the project or they will sabotage it and destroy his rocket. Reluctantly, Helius agrees to their terms.

So, the rocket team is assembled: Helius, Mannfeldt, Windegger, Friede and Turner (who is along to represent the interests of the evil businessmen). After the rocket blasts off, it is discovered that Gustav, a young boy who has befriended Helius and has a choice collection of science fiction comics, is aboard as a stowaway. During the journey, Windegger emerges as something of a coward and general wet blanket and the feelings of Helius toward Friede become known to her, creating a romantic triangle of sorts.

Once they get to the far side of the moon, Mannfeldt and Turner prove Mannnfeldt's theory that there is gold on the moon. They struggle in a cave and Mannfeldt falls to his death in a crevasse. Turner attempts to hijack the rocket and in the struggle he is shot and killed. Gunfire damages the oxygen tanks and they come to the grim realization that there is not enough oxygen for all to make the return trip. One person must remain on the moon (which, in this film, has a breathable atmosphere on its far side, per the theories of Peter Andreas Hansen, who is mentioned near the beginning of the film).

Helius and Windegger draw straws to see who must stay and Windegger loses. Seeing Windegger's self-centered anguish, Helius decides to drug him and take his place, letting Windegger return to earth with Friede. He makes Gustav his confidant and the new pilot for the ship. After the ship takes off for home, Helius discovers that Friede has decided to stay with him on the moon and they embrace passionately.

Review

It wouldn't be a Fritz Lang film if it didn't last forever. The first hour and a half drag on so slowly. Once they got to the moon, the film became pretty good, but it took way too long for them to get there. of course, this being 1929, a rocket launch to the moon made for some pretty suspenseful drama and excitement. For this Sci-Fi geek (yes, I said Sci-Fi ! Suck it nerds.) the build up to the rocket launch was pretty boring.

And of course, just about every bit of "science", they got wrong. But I won't hold that against the film.

A bit of trive from imdb.com: When the Nazis began working on war rockets, they decided the movie's rockets were too close to the truth. To preserve secrecy, they had the models destroyed and the film withdrawn from release.

My Rating: 6/10
IMDB Rating: 7.4 (671 Votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 2 Fresh, 1 Rotten
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Old 03-07-2010, 12:18 AM   #200
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Piccadilly (1929)



Directed by: Ewald André Dupont
Starring: Gilda Gray, Anna May Wong, Jameson Thomas
Length: 92 min.
Genre: Drama / Romance


Plot from Wikipedia

Valentine Wilmot's London nightclub and restaurant, Piccadilly Circus, is a great success due to his star attraction, dancing partners Mabel (Gilda Gray) and Vic (Cyril Ritchard). One night, a dissatisfied diner (Charles Laughton) disrupts Mabel's solo with his loud complaint about a dirty plate. When Wilmot investigates, he finds Shosho (Anna May Wong) distracting the other dishwashers with her dancing. He fires her on the spot.

After the performance, Vic tries to persuade Mabel to become his partner offstage as well as on, and to go to Hollywood with him. She coldly rebuffs him, as she is romantically involved with Wilmot. That night, Wilmot summons Vic to his office. Before Wilmot can fire him, Vic quits.

That turns out to be disastrous for the nightclub. The customers had come to see Vic, not Mabel. Business drops off dramatically. In desperation, Wilmot hires Shosho to perform a Chinese dance. She insists that her boyfriend Jim play the accompanying music. Shosho is an instant sensation, earning a standing ovation after her first performance.

Both Mabel and Jim become jealous of the evident attraction between Shosho and Wilmot. Mabel breaks off her relationship with Wilmot.

One night, Shosho invites Wilmot to be the first to see her new rooms. Mabel has followed the couple and waits outside. After Wilmot leaves, she persuades Jim to let her in. She pleads with her romantic rival to give Wilmot up, saying he is too old for her, but Shosho replies that it is Mabel who is too old, and that she will keep him. When Mabel reaches into her purse for a handkerchief, Shosho sees a pistol inside and grabs a dagger used as a wall decoration. Frightened, Mabel picks up the gun, then faints.

The next day, the newspapers report that Shosho has been murdered. Wilmot is charged with the crime. During the ensuing trial, he admits that the pistol is his, but refuses to divulge what happened that night. Jim testifies that Wilmot was Shosho's only visitor. Things look bad. Then Mabel insists on telling her story. However, she can recall nothing after fainting until she found herself running in the streets. Realizing that either Mabel or Jim must be lying, the judge summons Jim. By then, however, Jim has shot himself at Shosho's mausoleum. As he lays dying, he confesses he killed Shosho.

Review

I first saw Anna May Wong in The Thief of Bagdad, but of course I didn't know it at the time. She had a minor role as a Mongol slave, but it caught the eye of critics at the time. However, in the US she couldn't get better than minor roles due to her race. She left for Europe where she started getting better roles. This was her last silent movie, which of course is a common theme in 1929. In 1930, she was lured back to the US with promises of better roles by Paramount Pictures. They sorta lived up to that promise.

The movie was pretty good, but not great. It was the standard love triangle plot that I usually find rather boring. The acting was good, though.

My Rating: 7/10
IMDB Rating: 7.2 (455 Votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 90% (8.2 - 10 Reviews)
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