Friday, January 29, 2016

What a Whopper! (USA,1921)

The best shorts by Snub Pollard are those where he is in completely insane situations and handling them as if they were completely normal. This film is one of these. He goes out with his friend without their wives, both lying to their spouses about what they were actually doing. Pollard is paired with Marie Mosquine, a very funny (sometimes underrated) Ral Roach actress. Her angry face is enough to make the audience laugh and in this case she had reasons to be angry. Pollard and his friend, on their way back home, buy a fish (Pollard) and a duck (his friend) to ground their stories. They’d tell their wives they were together hunting, although they were actually in Turkish Baths. Unfortunately a small accident made both men exchange their packages and once they opened them at home they realized they didn’t have what they thought their did. However, they had already told the false story to their wives and, without the proper hunted animal, immediately find out they were deceived and give their husbands a lesson. The gags aren’t innovative, but were skillfully handled and the plot runs quite smoothly. Simple story, but carefully devised. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Get Your Man (USA, 1927)

Typical pattern of a late 1920s comedy by a big Hollywood studio. But the film’s worst “sin” was “casting” Clara Bow’s acting and not giving her much chance to  display her typical energetic acting. Both wardrobe and scenery were nice. Clara Bow’s clothes and furniture were particularly stunning.

He, Who Gets Slapped (USA, 1924)

Tension was beautifully built up, making this film subtly creepy. It also has a plenty of melodrama. The scenes were also very scenically beautiful, with a perfect composition between scenery, lighting, wardrobe and camera tricks. The scenes of clowns in the circus were very well-choreographed. As always, Lon Chaney is brilliant when it comes to his make up skills.
The end is the predictable self sacrifice of the ugly duck, but the death of some of the characters was devised in a more creative way than usual.
The film provides an interesting discussion about human nature, as the main character was laughed both at the academy of sciences and circus whenever he was slapped. The old dichotomy of the sad clown and a certain tendency of people to laugh at tragedy of others.

The Wind (USA, 1928)

Lillian Gish’s celebrated acting as a frail young woman who progressively goes crazy due to forces of nature is very worth watching.
The film’s pace is very interesting and makes the audience feel the tension of the plot. The fight to survive in a completely different environment has been the subject of many films throughout the decades.
The camera use and editing of scenes is very interesting and the wind is clearly shown a overwhelming force that makes people powerless.
MGM worked with a few noteworthy Swedish actors and directors at late 1920ies, being Greta Garbo (who wasn’t in this film) only the most famous example.

The Phantom of the Opera (USA, 1925)

This film has beautiful acting, not only by Lon Chaney, but also by Mary Philbin. However, the plot can be rather confusing, specially for those who are unfamiliar with the novel. The production of the film had some problems and filming was remade some times. Thus, despite being a carefully made film, the excessive melodrama, which was into fashion in big Hollywood studios on late 1920s, hindered the smooth flow of film.