Monday, February 27, 2012

Les Mystères du Château de Dé - 1929

Country: France
Director: Man Ray
Writer: Man Ray
Stars: Georges Auric, Le Comte de Beaumont and Le Vicomte de Noailles
Release Date: 6 June 1929 (France)
Also known as: The Mysteries of the Chateau de De (USA)
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Dice | Swimming | Surrealism | Swimming Pool | Mask  | Avant Garde
Genres: Documentary | Short
Mannequin hands hold a pair of dice. A castle is perched on a hilltop. Below it, a posh, modern villa. Meanwhile, far from Paris, two men with masked faces play dice in a bar. They decide to drive to Paris. Country roads, hills, fences. The posh "chateau" appears again: meticulous garden, fancy interior, odd sculptures. And at home? "No one, NO ONE." For the next two days, masked figures play dice, frolic by the pool, perform exercises with a ball. Two new figures arrive. Masked. They search and find the dice. They dance. Mannequin hands hold a pair of dice.

Friday, February 24, 2012

La Souriante Madame Beudet - 1923

Country: France
Director: Germaine Dulac
Writers: Denys Amiel (play), Germaine Dulac (screenplay), André Obey (play), André Obey (screenplay)
Stars: Germaine Dermoz, Alexandre Arquillière and Jean d'Yd
Release Date: 9 November 1923 (France)
Also known as: Das Lächeln der Madame Beudet (Germany), Madame Beudets sonniges Lächeln (Germany), The Smiling Madame Beudet (International - English title), Usmiechnieta pani Beudet (Poland)
Production Co: Colisée Films
Runtime: 54 min  | USA: 26 min  | 38 min
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Based On Play | Character Name In Title
Genres: Short | Drama
One of the first feminist movies, The Smiling Madame Beudet is the story of an intelligent woman trapped in a loveless marriage. Her husband is used to playing a stupid practical joke in which he puts an empty revolver to his head and threatens to shoot himself. One day, while the husband is away, she puts bullets in the revolver. However, she is stricken with remorse and tries to retrieve the bullets the next morning. Her husband gets to the revolver first only this time he points the revolver at her. 
Included among the '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die', edited by Steven Jay Schneider.  

La Glace à Trois Faces - 1927

Country: France
Director: Jean Epstein
Writers: Jean Epstein (adaptation), Paul Morand (novel)
Stars: Jeanne Helbling, Suzy Pierson and Olga Day
Also known as: Der dreiflügelige Spiegel (Germany), El espejo de las tres caras (Spain), Lustro o trzech twarzach (Poland), The Three-Sided Mirror (International - English title)
Filming Locations: L'Isle-Adam, Val-d'Oise, France, Paris, France
Production Co: Films Jean Epstein
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Love Affair | Sports Car | Based On Short Story | Flashback | Nonlinear Timeline  | Bird | Avant Garde | Car Accident | Based On Novel
Genres: Drama
Psychological narrative avantgarde film about a wealthy young businessman who consecutively falls in love with a classy English woman (Pearl), a Russian sculptress (Athalia), and a naive working-class girl (Lucie). Overpowered by weakness, the coward sidesteps the obligations that love affairs impose: rather than living up to his dates he takes his sports-car from an ultra-modern garage and speeds to the fashionable beaches of Deauville. On his way, he is fatally hit by a descending swallow. The film is divided into three segments each of which consists of events the woman experienced. These sequences are embedded in scenes in which each of the three women is telling and casting her mind back to her own love affair. Thus, present, future and past merge and cannot be distinguished clearly. The intertwinement of several layers of time experience, recollection, telling and showing have been..

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

La Folie du Docteur Tube - 1915

Country: France
Director: Abel Gance
Writer: Abel Gance
Stars: Albert Dieudonné
Also known as: La follia del dottor Tube (Italy)
Production Co: Le Film d'Art
Runtime: USA: 6 min  | USA: 10 min (DVD version)
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Short
In this early short film from the pioneering Abel Gance, a scientist playing around with some white powder in his lab, begins either changing his body or how he sees the world, I couldn't figure out which. Regardless, this allows Gance to use trick mirrors to distort the picture. Then more people wander in, more powder gets thrown around, more distortion (until 80% of the screen is incomprehensible), until things are finally restored to normal.  

La Coquille et le Clergyman - 1928

Country: France
Director: Germaine Dulac
Writer: Antonin Artaud, Germaine Dulac (uncredited)
Stars: Alex Allin, Genica Athanasiou and Lucien Bataille
Also known as: A kagyló és a lelkész (Hungary), El clérigo y la caracola (Argentina),
Muszelka i pastor (Poland), The Seashell and the Clergyman (International - English title)
Filming Locations: Paris, France
Production Co: Délia Film
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
The British Board of Film Censors banned this film in the UK in 1927, saying, "This film is so obscure as to have no apparent meaning. If there is a meaning, it is doubtless objectionable."
At the film's premier, writer Antonin Artaud, who was obviously not pleased by what director Germaine Dulac did to his screenplay, shouted at the screen, calling her a cow.
Plot Keywords: Lust | Nudity | Surrealism | Seashell | Obsession  |  Female Nudity | Controversy | Avant Garde | Priest
Genres: Short
Obsessed with a general's woman, a clergyman has strange visions of death and lust, struggling against his own eroticism.
The predecessor of Un Chien Andalou and directed by the lone woman filmmaker of her time, La Coquille et le Clergyman is one of the most celebrated of French avant-garde movies of the '20s, partly because Antonin Artaud wrote the script, partly because the British censor of the time banned it with the legendary words 'If this film has a meaning, it is doubtless objectionable'. Artaud was reputedly unhappy with Dulac's realization of his scenario, and it's true that the story's anti-clericalism (a priest develops a lustful passion that plunges him into bizarre fantasies) is somewhat undermined by the director's determined visual lyricism. But the fragmentation of the narrative and the innovative imagery remain provocative, and the film is of course fascinating testimony to the currents of its time.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bombs! - 1916

Country: United States
Language: English
Director: Frank Griffin
Stars: Charles Murray, Louise Fazenda and Mary Thurman
Release Date: 8 October 1916 (USA)
Also known as: Bombs and Blunders (USA - working title), Bombs and Brides (USA - alternative title)
Production Co: Keystone Film Company
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White

Monday, February 20, 2012

No Noise - 1923

Country: United States
Director: Robert F. McGowan
Writers: Hal Roach (story), H.M. Walker (titles)
Stars: Charles A. Bachman, Joe Cobb and Jackie Condon
Release Date: 23 September 1923 (USA)
Production Co: Hal Roach Studios
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Chase | Human Skeleton | Our Gang | Hospital | X Ray Machine  |  Tonsillitis | X Ray | Skeleton | Scare | Castor Oil | Animate Skeleton | Hospital Visit | Skeleton Mask | Tonsils | Tonsillectomy | Children | Actor Shares First Name With Character
Genres: Comedy | Family | Short
"No Noise" is an interesting early silent Our Gang comedy involving the gang visiting Mickey Daniels in the hospital and running wild in said institution. The doctors try to scare them away the results and laugh! Although a few of the gags are elaborate for a 1920's comedy (those involving the x-ray machine in particular), the naturalness and likability of the kids make this a winner, as is the case with most of the Gang/Rascals films. Some of the PC killjoys will shudder at seeing the doctors ham it up by scaring the kids while chasing them with saws, but most viewers to have enough sense to lighten up and see this for what it is, for entertainment purposes only and let the PC crowd gag on DVD's of the nauseating Care Bears and Barney the Dinosaur.
It may be surprising that the richly comic device of the Gang on the loose in a hospital was rarely repeated in later Gang/rascals comedies that most viewers are familiar with, but the syrup and Castor oil gag with Mickey Daneils and his nurse was remade with Dickie Moore in "Free Wheeling" (itself a remake of the silent "Tire Trouble" and "One Wild Ride"-Hal Roach and Bob McGowan were really big on self-referencing) and this episode was redone in the later MGM post Little Rascals Our Gang comedy "Men in Fright," with Alfalfa reprising Mickey Daniels' role. Like other early Gang films, it is a truly pleasant way to spend 20 minutes.

The Last of the Mohicans - 1920

Country: United States
Language: English (intertitles)
Directors: Clarence Brown, Maurice Tourneur
Writers: James Fenimore Cooper (novel), Robert Dillon (scenario)
Stars: Wallace Beery, Barbara Bedford and Alan Roscoe
Release Date: 21 November 1920 (USA)
Also known as: Az utolsó mohikán (Hungary), Der letzte Mohikaner (Germany), El último Mohicano (Spain), Le dernier des Mohicans (France), O Último dos Mohicanos (Portugal), Ostatni Mohikanin (Poland)
Filming locations: Big Bear Lake, Big Bear Valley, San Bernardino National Forest, California, USA; Yosemite National Park, California, USA
Production Co: Maurice Tourneur Productions
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
This film was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1995.
Plot Keywords: French | Rescue | Huron Indian | New York | Interracial Relationship  | Explosion | Siege | Native American Attack | Gunfire | Hatchet | Guide | Scout | Delaware Indian | Traitor | Massacre | Fort | Murder | Gunpowder | Pioneer Life | Falling From Height | Funeral | French Indian Wars | 1750s | Knifing | Mohican Indian | Deception | Sister | Informant | Fight | Based On Novel
Genres: Adventure | Drama
As Alice and Cora Munro attempt to find their father, a British officer in the French and Indian War, they are set upon by French soldiers and their cohorts, Huron tribesmen led by the evil Magua. Fighting to rescue the women are Chingachgook and his son Uncas, the last of the Mohican tribe, and their white ally, the frontiersman Natty Bumppo, known as Hawkeye.

Going Straight - 1916

Country: USA
Language: English
Directors: Chester M. Franklin, Sidney Franklin
Writer: Bernard McConville
Stars: Norma Talmadge, Ralph Lewis and Ninon Fovieri
Release Date: 4 June 1916 (USA)
Also known as:  Corruption (undefined), Playmates (USA - working title), Uskollinen nainen (Finland)
Production Co: Fine Arts Film Company
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White (tinted)
Plot Keywords: Blackmail | Flashback | Safecracking | Rehabilitation
Taglines: Have we killed him?
Genres: Crime | Drama
A man and his wife both have criminal pasts, but have quit crime and are now respectable citizens. One day a member of their old gang shows up and threatens to expose them if they don't help him pull a heist.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Truth About the North Pole - 1912

Country: Unites States
Film made by Dr. Frederick Cook to substantiate his claim as discoverer of the North Pole and document his treatment by opponents.

The Invaders - 1912

Country: United States
Language: English (intertitles)
Writer: C. Gardner Sullivan (scenario - uncredited)
Stars: Francis Ford (Colonel James Bryson), Ethel Grandin (Colonel Bryson's Daughter) and Ann Little (Sky Star)
Release Date: 29 November 1912 (USA)
Production Co: Kay-Bee Pictures
Runtime: 41 min (2004 National Film Preservation Foundation print)
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Surveyor | Treaty | U.S. Army | Attack | Cheyenne Tribe  | Stagecoach | Ambush | Engagement | Broken Pact | Smoke Signal | Fire | Hostage | Death | Rescue | Railroad | Battle | Cavalry | Native American Chief | Massacre | Telegraph | Military Officer | Telescope | Land Rights | Native American | Romantic Rivalry | Marriage Proposal | Sioux Tribe | Gunfire | American Indian | Father Daughter Relationship
Genres: Western
The U.S. Army and the Indians sign a peace treaty. However, a group of surveyors trespass on the Indians' land and violate the treaty. The army refuses to listen to the Indians' complaints, and the surveyors are killed by the Indians. A vicious Indian war ensues, culminating in an Indian attack on an army fort.
One of the films in the 3-disk boxed DVD set called "More Treasures from American Film Archives (2004)", compiled by the National Film Preservation Foundation from 5 American film archives. This film is preserved by the Library of Congress (from the AFI/Blackhawk collection), has a running time of 41 minutes and an added piano score.  

Rapsodia Satanica - 1920

Country: Italy
Director: Nino Oxilia
Writers: Alberto Fassini (screenplay), Alberto Fassini (story), Fausto Maria Martini (poem)
Stars: Lyda Borelli (Contessa Alba d'Oltrevita), Andrea Habay (Tristano) and Ugo Bazzini (Mephisto)
Release Date: 1915 (Italy)
Also known as:  Rapsódia Satânica (Portugal), Rapsodia satánica (Spain), Rhapsodie des Satans (Germany), Rhapsodie satanique (France), Satan's Rhapsody (USA)
Production Co: Società Italiana Cines
Runtime: 40 min  | Germany: 45 min (restored)
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White  | Color (hand-colored)
Plot Keywords: Aging | Color Tint | Deal With The Devil
Genres: Short | Drama | Fantasy | Mystery
Rapsodia Satanica (1915) was the last film directed by Nino Oxilia and is undoubtedly one of the finest achievements of the early Italian cinema. In it, Oxilia spins a variation on the Faust myth, embodied here by the diva Lyda Borelli. Typical of extravagant D'Annunzian aestheticism at its height, Rapsodia Satanica was one of the summits of what was later called the "tail coat film." Diametrically opposed to the "cinema of reality" practiced by Serena, Martoglio and others, "tail coat films" set their melodramatic stories in the salons and villas of the upper middle class and the aristocracy, deploying narrative structures contrived to showcase their actors and especially its actresses. This had the effect of accentuating their physical presence and turning them into stars - probably the first stars in movie history. The success of the "dive" contributed to the development of motion picture grammar in its special use of the close-up. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Thais - 1916

Country: Italy
Director: Anton Giulio Bragaglia
Writer: Riccardo Cassano
Stars: Augusto Bandini, Alberto Casanova and Thaïs Galitzky
Also known as: Les possédées (France)
Production Co: Novissima Film
Runtime: 35 min (18 fps) (2001 restoration)
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Futurism
Genres: Short
"Futurism" was an avant-garde artistic movement, created in 1909 ( as you can see your grandfathers were long haired and dangerous youngsters for a while ) that demands a rejection of tradition and the past while exalting technical innovations, especially the mechanical ones, present and future. This avant-garde artistic movement ( literature and music genres) found great acceptance in Italy where many artists developed the Futurism postulates.
Herr Anton Giulio Bragaglia was a notable Italian Futurist who began experimenting with photography and published an important manifesto as a theoretical basis for Futurist photography, "Fotodinamismo Futurista". In addition to his career as set designer Herr Bragaglia had a short but intense film career, "Thais" being his debut as a Futurist director.
In any case "Thais" is a film that combines in a strange way classicism and the ( Futurist ) modernism, a paradox since we know that the Futurists were people who rejected tradition and the"Thais" story is a very conventional one. It tells of a "femme fatale" who toys with and uses her admirers for her capricious purposes with the expected tragic ending. Classicism can be seen too in the beautiful images from evocative landscapes sequences as the ferry at the river or Bianca's race to the abyss ( "Naturalism" reminiscences?... ) or Herr Charles Baudelaire's poems ( "Impressionism" reminiscences? ) Only at the end of the film do we see the "Futurist" influences in the highly stylized and geometrical décors in which our heroine suffers her particular punishment, a sequence in which Herr Bragaglia's talent as a set designer is put to good effect.
For those reasons for this German Count "Thais" is a kind of interesting film catalogue of many artistic movements ( curious artistic duality ) strangely mixed, a display of the spirit of those innovative early years that grants the film an artistic and remarkable balance as a whole.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must retrieve his conservative Teutonic influences. 

L'Odissea - 1911

Country: Italy
Language: Italian
Directors: Francesco Bertolini, Giuseppe de Liguoro, Adolfo Padovan
Writer: Homer
Stars: Giuseppe de Liguoro, Ubaldo Maria Del Colle and Eugenia Tettoni Fior
Release Date: February 1912 (USA)
Also known as: De dwaalwegen van Odysseus (Netherlands - informal literal title); Die Irrfahrten des Odysseus (Germany); Homer's Odyssey (USA); L'odissea di Omero (Italy - alternative title); L'odyssée (Switzerland - French title); L'odyssée d'Homère (France);
Odisea de Homero (Spain); Odyssee (Austria); Odysseian harharetket (Finland)
Production Co: Milano Film
Sound Mix: Silent
Taglines: Homer's Odissey appeals to every one. It's a story of love, death, passion and destruction. The greatest epic poem the world has ever had. It has lived for centuries, the film will too.
Color: Black and White
Genres: Drama | Adventure | Fantasy
One of hundreds of movies produced by Milano films, L'Odissea is good enough to let us know why Italy was one of the world's top film producers before WWI. At a time in which most films ran for about 10-12 minutes, this half an hour film (part of it is said to be missing, so its length could be even longer) is quite an accomplishment.
The Oddysey is told to every last detail: from the departure from Ithaca to the adventures involving the cyclops Polyphemus, the sirens, the monster Scylla, the nymph Calypso, Nausicaa and her father Alcinous, the return of Ulysses and his fight against the suitors disguised as a beggar. The style is a little old-fashioned (anything prior to The Birth of a Nation could be considered as such) but the intertitles guide us very well throughout the entire movie (contrary to others in which we can easily get lost, take L'assommoir (1909) as an example). The special effects are good enough: Polyphemus is huge compared to Ulysses and his crew, and Scylla is quite impressive for a 1910 monster. 

Arizona Days - 1928

Country: USA
Language: English
Director: J.P. McGowan
Writers: Brysis Coleman (story), Mack V. Wright (adaptation)
Stars: Bob Custer, Peggy Montgomery and J.P. McGowan
Release Date: 1 August 1928 (USA)
Also known as: Kakourgoi kata liston (Greece - transliterated ISO-LATIN-1 title)
Production Co: El Dorado Productions
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Undercover Agent | Rustling | Dude | Arizona | B Movie  | Branding Iron | B Western | Rancher | Held At Gunpoint | Anger | Poverty Row Film | Rustler | Gay Character | Henchman | Father Daughter Relationship | Cattleman | Cattle | Cattle Drive | Chases On Horseback | Chewing Tobacco | Spitting | Deceit | Cattleman Association | Sheriff | Falling Off Horse | Gunfire | Sweating | State In Title | Bandana | Englishman | Stock Footage | Cigarette Smoking | Public Domain | Gang Member | Low Budget Film | Gang Leader | Ranch
Genres: Action | Western
To stop the rustling of Hicks, Martin turns to the Cattlemen's Association. They send undercover agent Drexel who sets a trap for the gang. But Drexel's partner Van Wiley, posing as a dude, lets their identity become known putting them in jeopardy.  

A Bird's a Bird - 1915

Country: USA
Director: Edwin Frazee
Writer: Edwin Frazee
Stars: Chester Conklin (Mr. Walrus) , Minta Durfee (Walrus' wife) and Hank Mann (A Foreigner), Al St. John (Pa), Slim Summerville (Mr. Spegle)
Release Date: 8 February 1915 (USA)
Production Co: Keystone Film Company
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Short | Comedy 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The False Faces - 1919

Country: USA
Director: Irvin Willat
Writers: Louis Joseph Vance (novel), Irvin Willat
Stars: Henry B. Walthall, Mary Anderson and Lon Chaney
Release Date: 16 February 1919 (USA)
Production Co: Paramount Pictures
Runtime: USA: 70 min  | 76 min (DVD)
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Lone Wolf | Based On Novel
Genres: Drama
During World War I, a professional thief known as The Lone Wolf is assigned to steal a cylinder with important information from behind the German lines and bring it to Allied intelligence headquarters. However, German agents set out to stop him, headed by the man who was responsible for the death of the thief's sister.
The story for "The False Faces" is taken from a novel by Louis Joseph Vance based on a character he created called 'The Lone Wolf'. Films about WW1 made during WW1 are interesting. The opening stages of Irvin Willat's "The False Faces" hark forward six & eleven years to the battle sequences in "The Big Parade" & "All's Quiet on the Western Front" respectively. Indeed both King Vidor & Lewis Milestone must've viewed portions of this film. 1919 was a break out year for Lon Chaney with "The Wicked Darling", "Victory", and the hugely successful "The Miracle Man". "The False Faces" is Chaney's first film of 1919 so it was probably made while WW1 was still going on(before November 11 1918). The film actually stars Henry B. Walthall as a Sidney Reilly type spy, 'The Lone Wolf'. Quite possibly a double agent. The movie is a potpurri of a spy cheating officials and officials cheating the spy. Director Willat has scenes that occur on board a real passenger liner and later in a submarine. Amazing that Willat could obtain the use of a sub for his film. Chaney plays a man called Ekstrom in several disguises & whom 'The Lone Wolf' harbors a personal vengeance against. Ekstrom is a German w/spiked helmet, an officer on an ocean liner, a sub captain and a shaven adventurer in drawing room back on shore. An actress called Mary Anderson plays the sole female character in this film. A popular and pretty actress in the silents, she's all but forgotten today. Irving Willat's brother, Edwin Willat, is the cinematographer. The print of this film survives generally in good condition but some of the intertitles are so blacked out that they can't be read. Grapevine video actually replaced key titles so to hold the viewer to the story. The latter part of the film tends to get melodramatic. But the highlight scenes are on a real passenger liner(makes some think of the Titanic & Lusitania) and a real submarine with scenes that hark forward to 'Destination Tokyo' and 'Das Boot'. Most films about WW1 made during WW1 tend to be propaganda or over the top grotesque comedies aimed at Germans. This movie is a little bit of both but alas one of the more tamer films compared to others.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Joyless Street - 1925

Country: Germany
Language: German
Director: Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Writers: Hugo Bettauer (novel), F.H. Lyon (translator), Willy Haas (scenario- uncredited)
Stars: Asta Nielsen, Greta Garbo and Agnes Esterhazy 
Also known as: Die freudlose Gasse (Germany - original title); Bag glædernes maske (Denmark); Bajo la máscara del placer (Spain); Bak gledens maske (Norway); Den glädjelösa gatan (Sweden); Den gledesløse gaten (Norway -alternative title); Dromos horis hara (Greece - festival title); Iloton katu (Finland); Joyless Street (UK); La calle sin alegría: bajo la máscara del placer (Spain); La rue sans joie (France); La via senza gioia (Italy); Rua Sem Sol (Portugal); Rua das Lágrimas (Brazil); Ta dramata eis tous oikous anohis (Greece - transliterated ISO-LATIN-1 title); The Joyless Street (USA); The Street of Sorrow (USA); Ulica bez radosti (Yugoslavia - literal title - Serbian title); Viennese Love (Canada - English title); Zatracona ulica (Poland)
Production Co: Sofar-Film
Runtime: 125 min  | France: 94 min (1981 restored version)  | Germany: 175 min (1998 restored version at Berlin Film Festival, 16 fps)  | Spain: 109 min  | Belgium: 115 min (copy with English titles at Brussels Musée du Cinéma)  | Germany: 148 min (1998 restored version at Arte/ZDF, 19 fps)  | 142 min (1998 restored version on DVD, 20 fps)  | Germany: 151 min (2009 DVD, 19 fps)
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
The dark-haired woman waiting in the butcher shop line who is often mistaken for Marlene Dietrich is actually Hertha von Walther. She had a much larger role in the original uncut version of the film. She can also be seen as the lab assistant in Geheimnisse einer Seele with Werner Krauss.
Plot Keywords: Money | Food | Slum | Secretary | Depression  | Brothel | Necklace | American Red Cross | Nightclub | Creditor | Lawyer | Self Pity | Fired From The Job | Fur Coat | Murder | Post World War One | Poverty | Hunger | Sister Sister Relationship | Despair | Pain | Husband Wife Relationship | Anguish | Prostitute | Lodger | Street Life | Prostitution | Coat | Vienna Austria | Inflation | Arrest | Neighbor | Threadbare Coat | Misery | Father Daughter Relationship | Poor | Based On Novel
Genres: Drama
Vienna in the biggest depression, directly after WW1. In a slum, Lila Leid, the wife of lawyer Leid is murdered, Egon, secretary of one of Leid's clients is arrested. He was with her, and had her necklace, because he needed some money for his own stock exchange deals. The same deal brings poverty to ex-government official Rumfort, his daughter Greta, who also has lost her job, tries to get some money to get food. She rents a room of the flat she, her young sister and her father are living in to an American Red Cross official, who pays $60 rent, but the money is taken by some of her father's creditors. But their neighbour, shop owner Mrs Greifer knows how to "help", she and Mrs. Merkel are running a nightclub with a brothel... 

Robinson Kruse - 1927

Country: Sweden
Director: M.A. Wethrell
Producer: Magnus Cedergren
Production Company: Bandbreddsnöje
Audio/Visual: nosound, blank and white
Language: Swedish
Keywords: robinson,kruse,crosoe

Strike - 1925

Country: Soviet Union
Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein
Writers: Sergei M. Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov, Ilya Kravchunovsky, Valeryan Pletnyov
Stars: Grigori Aleksandrov, Maksim Shtraukh and Mikhail Gomorov
Also known as: Stachka (Soviet Union - original title); A Greve (Brazil / Portugal); La grève Belgium (French title) / Canada (French title); La huelga (Argentina / Spain); Стачка (Soviet Union - Russian title); Gapitsva (Soviet Union - Georgian title); Grev (Turkey - Turkish title); I apergia (Greece - transliterated ISO-LATIN-1 title); Lakko (Finland); Sciopero (Italy); Strajk (Poland); Streik (Germany); Strejke (Denmark);
Strejken (Sweden); Strike (International - English title); Sztrájk (Hungary)
Production Co: Goskino, Proletkult
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
The earliest Russian-Soviet film included among the '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die', edited by Steven Jay Schneider.
Plot Keywords: Strike | Factory | Spy | Working | Police  |  Public Domain | Tsarist Russia | Anti Capitalism | Water | Society | Experimental Film | Capitalist | Massacre | Infanticide | Violence | Unrest | Demonstration | Class Struggle | Breaking The Fourth Wall | Army vs Civilians | Turmoil | Cult Director | Working Class Family | Labor Movement | Capitalism | Class Society | Social Discontent | Dead Child | Suicide | Labour | One Word Title | Working Class
Genres: Drama
In Russia's factory region during Czarist rule, there's restlessness and strike planning among workers; management brings in spies and external agents. When a worker hangs himself after being falsely accused of thievery, the workers strike. At first, there's excitement in workers' households and in public places as they develop their demands communally. Then, as the strike drags on and management rejects demands, hunger mounts, as does domestic and civic distress. Provocateurs recruited from the lumpen and in league with the police and the fire department bring problems to the workers; the spies do their dirty work; and, the military arrives to liquidate strikers. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Wolf Blood - 1925

Country: USA
Language: English
Directors: George Chesebro, Bruce M. Mitchell
Writers: Bennett Cohen (story), Cliff Hill (story)
Stars: George Chesebro, Roy Watson and Milburn Morante
Release Date: 16 December 1925 (USA)
Also known as: Wolfblood: A Tale of the Forest (USA - alternative title); Wolfsblood (USA - alternative spelling)
Production Co: Ryan Brothers Productions
Runtime: 68 min
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Wolf | Blood Transfusion | Melodrama | Werewolf | Suicide  |  Lumber Camp | Hallucination
Genres: Adventure | Crime | Drama | Horror | Romance | Western
After wolf blood transfusion, man thinks he's becoming a wolf.  

The Forbidden City - 1918

Country: USA
Language: English
Director: Sidney Franklin
Writers: Mary Murillo, George Scarborough (story)
Stars: Norma Talmadge, Thomas Meighan and E. Alyn Warren
Release Date: 6 October 1918 (USA)
Also known as: A Tale of the Forbidden City (undefined)
Production Co: Norma Talmadge Film Corporation
Runtime: 62 min
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: China | Melodrama | Interracial Romance
Genres: Drama | Romance
The daughter of a Chinese mandarin is sentenced to death for her secret marriage to an American. Their child, raised in the mandarin's palace, grows up and escapes to seek her father, now a high-ranking official in the Philippines. 

The Squaw Man - 1914

Country: USA
Writers: Edwin Milton Royle (play), Cecil B. DeMille (picturizer), Oscar Apfel (picturizer) (as Oscar C. Apfel)
Stars: Dustin Farnum
Release Date: 15 February 1914 (USA)
Also known as: Az asszonyember (Hungary), O Exilado (Portugal), The White Man (UK)
Filming locations: Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California, USA; Green River, Wyoming, USA; Hollywood Heritage Museum - 2100 North Highland Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA (studio); Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA; Iverson Ranch - 1 Iverson Lane, Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles, California, USA; Railroad Station, Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California, USA; San Pedro, Los Angeles, California, USA; Vine & Selma Corner, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA (near)
Budget: $20,000 (estimated)
Gross: $244,700 (USA)
Production Co: Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
The first film made by (and involving) Cecil B. DeMille.
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The Motion Picture Patents Trust, headed by Thomas A. Edison, was at that time engaged in an attempt to control all motion picture production in the U.S., and went to great lengths - often including destruction of property and physical violence - to do so. The Trust was based on the East Coast, which is why many independent producers, such as Cecil B. DeMille, began shooting their films in California. The Trust's intimidation tactics probably explain why DeMille - who was one of their most vocal opponents - put no cast or crew credits on this film.
The site where most of the interior scenes were filmed, on the corner of Sunset and Vine in Hollywood, is now a bank. A mural on one interior wall of the building commemorates the production with four scenes from the film.
Several one-act versions of the play were produced as early as 1904. The complete play opened on Broadway in New York City, New York, USA on 23 October 1905 and closed about 1 April 1906 after 222 performances. The opening night cast included George Fawcett, William S. Hart and William Faversham.
Film debut of Raymond Hatton.
Cecil B. DeMille's ledger noted that he hired an extra named Hal Roach for $5 per day, and rejected actress Jane Darwell, who was already commanding $60 per week.
The musical composition "Nat-u-ritch: An Indian idyll. Intermezzo from The Squaw Man" by Theodore Bendix was published to promote the picture.
Revealing mistakes
When he is in his hotel room in New York, Captain Wynnegate looks out of his window. This is followed by a cut to an obvious still photograph of the Broadway/Times Square district by night, meant to represent the view from the Captain's window.
Early in the film, when Captain James Wynnegate (played by Dustin Farnum) is on board the sailing ship, he writes a note asking that a "check" enclosed with the note be cashed for him. Since Captain Farnum is an Englishman, he would have spelled the word as "cheque", the standard British spelling. (Moreover, the handwriting in the note is scarcely that of an educated British military officer: the lines of writing are crooked and the letters are crudely formed.)
Lady Diana: If you are an honest man, you may kiss me goodbye.
Nat-U-Rich: Me kill 'um.
Captain James Wynnegate: [on death of Nat-U-Rich] Poor little mother!
Lady Diana: Jim, I want you to go away for my sake!
Big Bill: Come out West where people keep their hands in their own pockets.
Captain James Wynnegate: I won't drink with a man who robbed the orphans of the King's soldiers!
Lady Diana: We're going to find Jim and bring him home.
Big Bill: Get a-goin', Bud, and don't stop to pick flowers!
Captain James Wynnegate: I'm broke. Tell the boys I'll pay 'em somehow.
Lady Diana: Whose little boy are you?
Plot Keywords: Earl | England | Mountain Climbing | Ranch | Embezzlement  | Suicide | Ship Fire | Rescue | Fire | Ship | Constable | Aunt | Race Track | Scotland Yard | Confession Of Crime | Honor | Gambling | Jealousy | Feud | Falling From Height | Times Square Manhattan New York City | Wyoming | Pacific Northwest | Native American | Alcoholic | Historical Landmark | Saloon | Snow Blindness | Gunfire | Fight | Accidental Death | Medicine Man | Marriage | Cousin Cousin Relationship | Transatlantic Trip | Little Boy | Train | New York City | Rescue At Sea | Interracial Marriage | Drunkenness | Alps |
Old West | Manhattan New York City | Handcuffs | Native American Chief | Forgery |
Family Honor | Horse Race | Loneliness | Miscegenation | Nobility | Snowblind | Chivalry | Self Sacrifice | Frontier | Drunken Indian | Murder | Pickpocket | Based On Play
Genres: Drama | Western 
A chivalrous British officer takes the blame for his cousin's embezzlement and journeys to the American West to start a new life on a cattle ranch.

Headin' Home - 1920

Country: USA
Language: English (intertitles)
Director: Lawrence C. Windom
Writers: Arthur 'Bugs' Baer (titles), Earle Browne (story)
Stars: Babe Ruth, Ruth Taylor and William Sheer
Release Date: 19 September 1920 (USA)
Filming Locations: Polo Grounds, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
Production Co: Kessell & Baumann
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Ironically, this film was partially financed by gambler Abe Attell, a gambler who had helped Arnold Rothstein fix the 1919 World Series. Babe Ruth, the star of the film, has always been credited with saving baseball after the 1919 Black Sox scandal.
Babe Ruth received $25,000 for this, his first film. The sum was a large amount for the time, and Ruth refused to cash his paycheck and carried it around to show to friends. By the time Ruth had decided to cash his check for the film, the check bounced because of the film's poor box office results. Ruth shrugged off his loss and kept the check as a memento. 
Plot Keywords: Baseball | Actor Playing Himself
Genres: Biography | Comedy | Drama | Sport

Easy Virtue - 1928

Country: United Kingdom
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writers: Noel Coward (play), Eliot Stannard (scenario)
Stars: Isabel Jeans, Franklin Dyall and Eric Bransby Williams
Release Date: 1928 (USA)
Also known as: Easy Virtue (UK - original title); Frágil virtud (Venezuela); Fragile virtù (Italy); Könnyed erkölcsök (Hungary); Kevytkenkäinen (Finland); Le passé ne meurt pas (France); Mulher Pública (Brazil); Olovlig kärlek (Sweden); Virtud fácil (Argentina)
Filming locations: French Riviera, Alpes-Maritimes, France; Islington, London, England, UK (studio)
Production Co: Gainsborough Pictures
Runtime: 79 min  | 89 min (Hypercube restored version)
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
The play opened in London and New York City in 1925. The New York City production began on 7 December 1925 and had 147 performances with Jane Cowl as Larita, Robert Harris as John and Halliwell Hobbes as Colonel Whittaker.
Director Cameo
Alfred Hitchcock:  walking past a tennis court carrying a walking stick.
While sitting with Larita after she is hit with the tennis ball, John's sitting position changes between shots. 
When Larita's hurt face is being tended to by a nurse, Larita's hand jumps from being in her lap to near her face between shots. 
John's distance from Larita changes dramatically after she shakes shaking her cocktail at the another table then suddenly is next to Larita's table.
When Sarah and Larita first meet, John stands in between them. But in the next shot he is shown on the far left of the girls. 
After talking to his mom about Larita and sitting next to Sarah, John's leg and arm positions change between shots.
When the three men are talking together at the horse track, the people standing in the background change positions then disappear in subsequent shots. 
[first title card]
Title Card: Virtue is its own reward they say - but 'easy virtue' is society's reward for a slandered reputation.
[first lines]
Prosecutor: Mrs. Filton, do you wish the Jury to believe the co-respondent never kissed you?
[last lines]
Larita Filton: [to news photographers] Shoot! There's nothing left to kill.
Mrs. Whittaker: In our world we do not understand this code of easy virtue.
Plot Keywords: Artist | Divorce | France | Secret | Trial  | Cigarette Smoking | Mansion |
Drunkenness | Scandal | Photographer | Public Domain | Signature | Director Cameo | Marriage | Camera | Alcoholic | Mother Son Relationship | Judge | Courtroom | Tennis |
Newlywed Couple | Eavesdropping | Estate | Father In Law Daughter In Law Relationship | Dog | England | Deception | Secret Past | Portrait | Mother In Law Daughter In Law Relationship | Attorney | Male Female Relationship | Telephone Operator | Polo | Cigar Smoking | Party | Secret From Husband | Bedroom | Husband Wife Relationship |
Family Relationships | Hotel | Lawyer | Secret From Family | Jury | Court | Reputation |
Co Respondent | Train | French Riviera | Romantic Kiss | Mediterranean Sea | Party Invitation | Gunfire | Character Says I Love You | Flashback | Guilt | Dining Room | Horse And Carriage | Based On Play | Title Spoken By Character
Genres: Romance | Thriller
A divorcée hides her scandalous past from her new husband and his family. Larita Filton is named as correspondent in a scandalous divorce case. She escapes to France to rebuild her life where she meets John Whittaker. They are later married, but John's well-to-do family finds out Larita's secret.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Manxman - 1929

Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writers: Hall Caine (novel), Eliot Stannard (scenario)
Stars: Anny Ondra, Carl Brisson and Malcolm Keen
Release Date: 16 December 1929 (USA)
Also known as: La isla del pecado (Argentina / Venezuela), A Man-szigeti ember (Hungary), El hombre de la isla de Man (Spain), Exileosis dikaiou (Greece - transliterated ISO-LATIN-1 title), L'isola del peccato (Italy), Man saaren tuomari (Finland - theatrical title), Manboen (Denmark), Mansaaren tuomari (Finland - video title), Manxmannen (Sweden), Pobre Pete (Portugal), The Manxman (France)
Filming locations: Elstree Studios, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, England, UK (studio);  Isle of Man; Polperro, Cornwall, England, UK
Production Co: British International Pictures (BIP)
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Alfred Hitchcock's last silent film.
A signatory on the fishermen's petition against steam trawlers is Jack Cox. Jack E. Cox was Hitchcock's cameraman on the film.
Two key lines in the film have no intertitles, the viewer having to lip read them. About 64 minutes into the film, Kate reveals to Philip "Philip, I am going to have a baby." 4 minutes later, she reveals to her husband Pete "I am going to have a baby." 
(At 21:00) Philip puts his right hand in his pocket, but it is not in the pocket in the subsequent shot. 
The facing of Pete's head changes between shots when he is resting it on Phil's shoulder while awaiting news about the baby. 
Discontinuity with Kate's doctor's hands when he holds the back of the rocking chair before telling Pete the news about the baby. In one shot he has two hands on the chair, then in the next shot of Pete's face there aren't any hands seen on the chair.  Share this
After Kate tells Philip she is going to retrieve their baby, Philip is shown running to the door twice in subsequent shots.
[first title card]
Title Card: "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"
[last lines]
Philip Christian: Pete, we too have suffered. 
Version of The Manxman (1917)
A fisherman and a rising young lawyer, who grew up as brothers, fall in love with the same girl.

Tarzan of the Apes - 1918

Country: USA
Director: Scott Sidney
Writers: Edgar Rice Burroughs (novel), Fred Miller, Lois Weber (writer)
Stars: Elmo Lincoln, Enid Markey and True Boardman
Release Date: 27 January 1918 (USA)
Also known as: Tarzan der Affen (Germany), Tarzan, a majomember (Hungary), Tarzan, o Homem Macaco (Portugal)
Filming locations: Griffith Park - 4730 Crystal Springs Drive, Los Angeles, California, USA; Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil; Morgan City, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; San Pedro, Los Angeles, California, USA; Selig Zoo, California, USA; Topanga Canyon, Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA
Box office
Gross: $1,000,000 (USA)
Production Co: National Film Corporation of America
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Young men from the New Orleans Athletic Club played the ape parts.
In one scene a lion is supposed to crawl through the window of Tarzan's cabin to devour Jane. Tarzan grabs him and pulls him out. Rumor has it that the old and drugged lion turned on Elmo Lincoln who stabbed and killed him. "I stepped on him to beat my chest. As my foot pressed down on him, the remaining air in his lungs escaped with a loud whoosh. I was already shaken and you should have seen me jump!" The lion wound up as a lobby display when the picture opened on Broadway. However, Enid Markey and others from the cast have disputed this version of events, saying that the lion was actually killed off screen. Contrary to popular opinion, the death of the lion is not actually shown on screen. It is already dead when Elmo stabs at it, barely puncturing its skin.
Production began with Stellan Windrow playing Tarzan. After five weeks of shooting, Windrow quit to enlist in the First World War. Footage of him swinging from vines remains in the final film. According to Burroughs' biographer Robert Fenton, Windrow was using Winslow Wilson as a stage name at the time.
Originally, this movie was three hours long and was divided into three parts. The longest extant print is seventy-three minutes in length.
Louisiana was chosen as the main shooting location because of the cooperation of the residents of Morgan City, the lush jungle vegetation, bayous, waterways, abundant black extras, and facilities such as hotels, a railway-serviced wharf and an adjacent storage warehouse.
Sets, costumes and equipment were sent from Los Angeles by rail car.
For the African village scenes native huts were constructed and 800 locals were hired as extras. The village was burned to the ground for the final village scene.
National Film Corporation, the production company, hired eight acrobats to play apes, for which costumes made from goat skins and elaborate masks were constructed.
Over 300 locals in Morgan City, LA, were hired as cannibal extras for $1.75 a day.
Edgar Rice Burroughs sold the film rights for "Tarzan of the Apes" to the National Film Corporation on June 6, 1916. He received a record $5,000 cash advance on royalties, $50,000 in company stock and 5% of gross receipts.
Elmo Lincoln was stockier than original Tarzan Stellan Windrow and had trouble doing the sequences in the trees, so they kept the footage shot of Windrow.
Alice Guy was originally offered the job as director, but turned it down. It was eventually given to Scott Sidney.  
Plot Keywords: Tarzan | Ape | Knife | Gift | Child Nudity  | Elephant | Rhinoceros | Lion |
Spear | Giraffe | Mutiny | Crocodile | Gun Battle | Slave Trade | Spanish Moss | Animal Attack | Banana Tree | Strangulation | Snake | Revolver | Skeleton | Chimpanzee | Actual Animal Killed | Rifle | Leopard | Little Boy | Monkey | Based On Novel | Character Name In Title
With an unusually brilliant cast including...[list of cast members]...and 500 others
Was produced in the jungles during 11 months of the most tremendous effort at faithfulness to detail in emphasizing all the powerful situations in the original story
The Wonder Story of the Age
The most startling and unforgettable story ever written
Genres: Action | Adventure
The plot follows the novel more closely than does any other Tarzan movie. John and Alice Clayton take ship for Africa. Mutineers maroon them. After his parents die the newborn Tarzan is taken by a great Ape, Kala. Later the boy finds his father's knife and uses it to become King of Apes. Binns, the sailor who saved the Claytons and who has been held by Arab slavers for ten years, finds the young Tarzan and then heads for England to notify his kin. A scientist arrives to check out Binns' story. Tarzan, now a man, kills the native who killed Kala; when their chief is killed the black villagers appease Tarzan with gifts and prayers. The scientist's daughter Jane is carried off by a native, rescued by Tarzan (who has burnt the native village), aggressively loved by him ("Tarzan is a man, and men do not force the love of women"), and at last accepts him with open arms.

The Shock - 1923

Country: USA
Language: English
Director: Lambert Hillyer
Writers: Charles Kenyon, William Dudley Pelley (story)
Stars: Lon Chaney (Wilse Dilling), Virginia Valli (Gertrude Hadley) and Jack Mower (Jack Cooper)
Release Date: 10 June 1923 (USA)
Budget: $90,220 (estimated)
Gross: $257,327 (Worldwide)
Production Co: Universal Pictures
Runtime: 96 min  | 69 min (DVD)
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White  | Color (tinted)
A Jewel Production. Universal, lacking a proprietary theater chain, devised a 3-tiered branding system to enable it to market its feature product to independent theater owners: Red Feather (low budget programmers), Bluebird (mainstream releases) and Jewel (prestige productions capable of drawing higher roadshow ticket prices). This branding system ended in late 1929.  
Plot Keywords: Melodrama | Earthquake | San Francisco California
Genres: Crime | Drama
Mysterious, sinister Wilse Dilling receives a coded message to go to the home of Queen Ann, a powerful crime boss. When Wilse meets with her, she sends him to the town of Fallbrook, where he is to await her instructions. Being practically wheelchair-bound has not stopped Dilling from committing a lengthy series of crimes, but to his surprise, he finds that the small town atmosphere makes him feel differently about everything. He finds a good friend in banker's daughter Gertrude Hadley, who helps him believe that he can make a fresh start. But Wilse's new-found contentment is soon shattered by a series of new developments. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Whistle - 1921

Country: USA
Director: Lambert Hillyer
Writers: May Wilmoth (story), Olin Lyman (story) and Lambert Hillyer (scenario)
Stars: William S. Hart, Frank Brownlee and Myrtle Stedman
Release Date: April 1921 (USA)
Production Co: William S. Hart Productions
Runtime: 70 min
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Accident | Revenge | 1910s | Milk Bottle | Father Son Relationship  | Factory | Worker | Birthday Cake | Pipe Smoking | Factory Whistle | Whistle | Male Female Relationship | Millionaire | Birthday | Factory Owner | Mother Son Relationship |
Child Labor | New England | Kitchen | Negligence | Death Of Mother | Death Of Son
Genres: Drama | Romance
Taglines: I did it to avenge the death of my son Danny (original lobby card) 
Robert must avenge his son who was killed in a workplace accident.
Laborer William S. Hart (as Robert Evans) lives in the New England town of Chappleville, which is owned and operated by his wealthy boss, Frank Brownlee (as Henry Chapple). Mr. Hart lives with his adolescent son, Will Jim Hatton (as Danny Evans); "Mrs. Evans" having died during childbirth. Mr. Brownlee lives with wife Myrtle Stedman (as Mrs. Chapple) and baby Richard Headrick; later, baby grows into boy Georgie Stone. Hart regular Bob Kortman (as Scardon) has a pivotal role.
Hart and company make a bold statement picture, which is also shamelessly emotional entertainment; and, the star is so effective in the "non-western" lead role, it's a shame he saddled up so much more than not. Hart and Hatton are so convincing as father and son, you can't help but sympathize with Hart. His face shows his son's soul being ripped from Hart, after his gut-wrenching workplace incident. Hart conscientiously carries the remainder of the film well; but, given the melodramatics, the ending is unnecessarily a downer for one cast member.