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goldensilents

What was the last silent movie you watched?

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Hey does anyone know why the silent The River is not in the Murnau Borzage DVD box set? I am amazed I don't see it here. I have the Filmmuseum's PAL DVD release from a few year's back, but I would think in a set this big that they would have included the restoration of The River on NTSC disc in this set? Totally weird!

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THE RIVER is on the flip side of the SEVENTH HEAVEN disc. It's the same presentation as on the Edition Filmmuseum disc released last year.

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I watched *The Rat* (1925) this afternoon, starring Ivor Novello and Mae Marsh. It wasn't anything too original but still entertaining because of the stars' performances, especially Mae Marsh, who is just the sweetest thing going.

 

===== spoilers ======

 

The story is about two young people living platonically together, almost like brother and sister, though it is clear the girl (Mae) is head over heels in love with "the Rat" (Ivor). The Rat hangs out in a nightclub each evening called The White Coffin. He's quite the ladies' man but the women all sense that he isn't interested in them for more than brief relationships. They debate the reason why but it never occurs to them (or to the Rat) that his real affections are centered on prim and proper little Mae, who waits for him each night, cooks and cleans for him and listens to his stories. This young couple become mixed up with a wealthy older couple; the husband is after sweet little Mae and the middle aged wife is after the Rat. A confrontation develops when the rich man tries to attack Mae. The Rat kills him, but when the police arrive Mae takes the blame. She goes to jail with the result that the Rat finally realizes he's been in love with Mae the whole time. There's a happy ending when Mae's character is released due to self-defense.

 

I liked the film. It was obvious Ivor was trying to compete with Rudolph Valentino. There's even a tango dance scene similar to Four Horsemen, but honestly Ivor doesn't hold a candle in the Dancing Department to Rudy!

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I'm on a roll here because I am fighting bronchitis and can't do anything but rest. So I'm watching movie after movie. I hope I'm not boring people with my reviews. ;)

 

The latest silent I just finished watching is 1924's *The White Sin* starring Madge Bellamy and John Bowers. This must have come from some PD company like Grapevine because it had a warped canned soundtrack and the print quality was mediocre. But at least I got to see another Madge film, though this plot was kind of ludicrous.

 

===== spoilers ======

 

Madge is an orphan living with a mean aunt. She takes a chance to leave her small farming town when she gets hired to take the place of a maid who was fired by a rich woman. Madge gets on a train with her new employer and on the way she is seduced by a playboy. She goes on his yacht and succumbs to his charms. He arranges a fake wedding which she believes is legit.

 

Months later she is pregnant but the scoundrel has apparently died. After having the baby she is completely broke and goes to the scoundrel's family and begs them to take care of her and her baby. They seem to have good hearts and take her in. They introduce her to the scoundrel's brother, played by John Bowers, who is the good sheep of the family, though wounded in the war. Madge and John hit it off and fall in love. Then, wonder of wonders, a telegram arrives! The scoundrel brother is not dead! He's on his way home! Oh wow! Such happy news! (not).

 

Madge and John have to put their feelings aside when the scoundrel brother returns. His ex-girlfriend is jealous and threatens to reveal to Madge that the marriage between her and the scoundrel was fake. Fate intervenes and a fire breaks out in the house. Madge and the baby are stuck in an upstairs bedroom as the flames and smoke rise. For the first time in his rotten life the scoundrel does something honorable and tries to save Madge and the baby. He dies trying. Then John Bowers rescues them. Cut to several months later and a garden scene where Madge, John and the baby are all happy together. The End.

 

No wonder Madge was itching for better roles for most of her career. This vehicle was really a waste of her talents (not to mention John Bowers').

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I promise this is my last review of the night! I'm done watching movies for the day! LOL!

 

This next one was the highlight of my viewing marathon today. Tonight I watched Yasujiro Ozu's *Passing Fancy* a 1933 Japanese silent starring Takeshi Sakamoto, Nobuko Fushimi, Den Obinata, and Tomio Aoki.

 

*What an intense but delightful silent, I was engrossed for all 100 minutes!* It's in the new Ozu DVD collection and was the first film I watched from this set. The piano score was by Donald Sosin, but this time he didn't play the music with Japanese musical themes and structure, like he did for *The Peach Girl*, but relied more on ragtime and jazz music as well as some classical. It took a bit of getting used to, to hear more western music with an Oriental film, but after awhile I adjusted. After all, the Japanese sound film *Twenty-Four Eyes* had a soundtrack that was composed of western folk tunes! Besides, *Passing Fancy* is mostly a comedy; how do you write funny Japanese music for 100 minutes? ;)

 

------- spoilers --------

 

The story is about a widower and his young son living in poverty. They are close to a few people, a male friend of the widower, a woman who owns a little restaurant, a male barber, and a newcomer to their circle, a lovely young girl who has lost her job at the silk factory and who is befriended by the widower and restaurant owner and given a job as a cook and waitress. There is a subtle love triangle going on and one of the men treats the new young girl pretty carelessly and insensitively. The more he neglects her the more she seems to love him!

 

The widower, played by Takeshi Sakamoto, is the main focus of the story, however. He can't read and he's often drunk, yet his son does well in school despite their poverty and lack of social status. The widower often seems jealous of his own son. One day he gives him money and the boy goes out and stuffs himself with sweets and almost dies from enteritis. The father realizes he might lose his son.

 

Through the stressful situation of the boy's illness the love triangle is finally resolved and the father realizes how much he loves his son.

 

I am really warming to Japanese films these days. They are often so much deeper emotionally than American films. This one is unforgettable. A real keeper. Mere words can't do it justice. You have to see it.

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Jill,

 

I saw THE RAT about a year ago. It was a pretty good print, but had no musical score. Some of the title cards were only there for a split second or so. Other than that not to bad. I don't really remember the film all that well. I enjoyed seeing it, but this didn't turn out to be a favorite.

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The print I saw had title cards that lasted long enough to read and it was ok but not outstanding.

 

I liked it well enough but I think I expected to like it much more because of all the hype over it for so many years. The best thing about it was Mae Marsh. She is such a doll.

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> {quote:title=goldensilents wrote:}{quote}

> This next one was the highlight of my viewing marathon today. Tonight I watched Yasujiro Ozu's *Passing Fancy* a 1933 Japanese silent starring Takeshi Sakamoto, Nobuko Fushimi, Den Obinata, and Tomio Aoki.

> *What an intense but delightful silent, I was engrossed for all 100 minutes!* It's in the new Ozu DVD collection and was the first film I watched from this set.

The Silent Ozu set from Criterion is a real gem, I really liked all three films;TOKYO CHORUS (1931), I WAS BORN BUT...(1932) and PASSING FANCY. If you get a chance, Criterion also has A STORY OF FLOATING WEEDS (1934), another Ozu silent that is really excellent.

His sound films are quite good too. TCM has shown TOKYO STORY (1953), which is very good, and THERE WAS A FATHER (1942), which I found to be very touching. There are quite a few really excellent Japanese films like Akira Kurosawa's NO REGRETS FOR OUR YOUTH (1946), IKIRU (1952), and HIGH AND LOW (1963).

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Yes I'm sure I'll get *Floating Weeds* after I am done with this collection. People have been recommending that film to me for years.

 

I've already seen *I Was Born, But* ... but it was several years ago and I don't remember a lot of details so I will be watching again. I'll probably watch *Tokyo Chorus* first though.

 

So far the Japanese films that have blown me away the most are the sound films *Twenty-Four Eyes* (1954) and *The Burmese Harp* (1956) which TCM aired in the primetime 8pm slot a few weeks ago. I loved both these films so much that I bought the paperback translations to read as well.

 

I posted about *The Burmese Harp* in the Foreign Films category here on TCM but no one responded. I found it shocking that no one else was as profoundly moved by the film as I was, certainly not enough to even post a "yes, wasn't it great!" in the thread. It's probably one of the three top anti-war films I've ever seen. Looking at that empty thread I have to wonder if anyone out there bothered to watch!

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> {quote:title=goldensilents wrote:}{quote}

 

> So far the Japanese films that have blown me away the most are the sound films *Twenty-Four Eyes* (1954) and *The Burmese Harp* (1956) which TCM aired in the primetime 8pm slot a few weeks ago. I loved both these films so much that I bought the paperback translations to read as well.

 

I recorded THE BURMESE HARP, but have not watched it yet.

I have quite a stack of unwatched DVDs to wade through, but I will now put it to the top of the stack.

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The last one I watched was Fritz Lang's WOMAN IN THE MOON, it pretty good, even though I'm not that into sci-fi stuff, but I do have thing for Fritz Lang movies.

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I loved *Woman in the Moon*, it was funky and fun.

 

I was enchanted tonight watching another Japanese Ozu silent in that Criterion Collection, this time *Tokyo Chorus* (1931), about a middle class family whose father becomes unemployed, which causes strain and adjustments to family life. The same little boy actor who was in *Passing Fancy* was in *Tokyo Chorus*. I can see why Ozu used him a lot; he was very expressive, especially in scenes where he had to be ornery for the camera. ;)

 

I was sad to read that the actor who played the father died of TB only 3 years later. What a shame. Those were the days before antibiotics, of course, so if you got it you probably didn't stand much chance.

 

The biggest delight I had was I immediately recognized Hideko Takamine as the little daughter! Here she was seven years old and already acting in first rate films. She played the exquisite Japanese teacher in my favorite Japanese film *Twenty-Four Eyes* in 1954! Even though I hadn't read the credits on the IMDb or the DVD box I immediately knew who she was, such was the power she had in front of the camera.

 

tokyochorus.jpg

 

Hideko.jpg

 

I love these films! At the heart of them is love for the family, which is so endearing to me.

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Frau Im Mond (Woman In The Moon)~I am like you in that I am not usually a fan of science fiction films. However, Woman in the Moon is a fun and fascinating combination of espionage and science ficition, and it is amazingly accurate in some details forty years before the first man walked on the moon. I think the highlight of the film is Fritz Rasp and his rather quirky interpretation of his character. Rasp plays a character simply regarded as the man who calls himself Mr. Turner, and he makes one of the most intriguing villains in classic films. If you have never seen this film, watch it simply for Rasp?s quick-change scene.

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I watched King Vidor's WILD ORANGES (1924) again last night. I had seen this about three years ago, and didn't think much of it. But I enjoyed it quite a bit more this time. A dark and brooding film to be certain. One of King Vidor's strangest productions. I have seen little of Virginia Valli. and quickly fell in love with her in this picture. She portrayed such a tragically sympathetic figure, as the habitually frightened "Millie Stope".

 

Frank Mayo as the hero, a wayward sailor trying to forget his wife's sudden death is a rather odd leading man here. Still He has good chemistry with Virginia. Ford Sterling his traveling partner is along for comic relief, but has little to do. The girl and her grandfather are basically held captive in their own home to a Wacked-out Madman (Charles A. Post), who is supposed to be working for them. This is in many ways quite a disturbing film. Unlike most anything else that Vidor made.

 

 

 

WildOranges-BoundPoster.jpg

 

 

 

 

WildOrangesPosterHauntedHeart.png

 

 

 

 

WildOranges-GiantLobby-Card.jpg

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I watched the third film in the Ozu Silent Japanese set, *I Was Born, But ...* (1932) and really enjoyed it again, especially the new digital print which was clearer than the old VHS release. Ozu was such a brilliant director in a quiet but self-assured way. Each scene paints a unique picture which adds to the overall story. This is very intuitive directing and the camerawork is completely professional, with tracking shots and close ups and an eye for stark backgrounds and sets which add to the flavor of the films, helps draw us in and makes us care about the characters.

 

Ozu must have been like Griffith in some ways, carving out new roads for films in Japan, using the same ensemble of actors for many of his films. By the third film in this set you start to recognize faces, especially the brilliant little boy actor Hideo Sugowara, who is in all three films, and comic actor Takeshi Sakamoto, also in all three films. Each film touches on tensions between older and younger generations. Each film showcases how hard it was to make a good economic living in Japan at the time. Each film honors the nuclear family. Each film shows how important education was to the Japanese.

 

This Criterion set is an excellent one and highly recommended if you are interested in Japanese silents. I am kind of sad I'm done with it -- I wish there were more than 3 silents in the set!

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Jill,

I'm glad that you liked those 3 silent Ozu films, I'm sure that you will like A STORY OF FLOATING WEEDS (1934). It was the first of Ozu's silent films that I saw. I like the talkies of his that I've seen, and hope that a few more of them make it to DVD in the near future.

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I am sure I'd love his talkies too. In fact I've really fallen in love with Japanese films in general. They have a gentleness and bittersweetness often lacking in American films.

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I watched a real oddball German silent tonight called *The Yacht Of The Seven Sins* (1928, UFA). It was missing the final reel which is probably why no one has done anything with it, but it's an interesting film nonetheless, and boasts yet another dynamic performance by the irrepressible Brigette Helm.

 

There's virtually nothing about this film on the IMDb; no plot listed, no reviews, not even the character names are listed, just the cast. So hopefully I can fill in a few missing details.

 

The story is about various stage performers and their rivalries. There's blackmail going on and a murder is committed.

 

====== spoilers ======

 

Brigette plays Marta Petrowna, a dancer, and she is perturbed when a rival female performer, singer Leonie Storm (played by Rina Marsa), is given a job performing on a cruise ship instead of herself. She visits her agent / producer, a Mr. Martini, to try and change his mind and let her be signed instead of the rival Leonie, and while she is there the producer is visited by Leonie's boyfriend, a stage writer named Kilian (played by John Stuart) who wants Leonie released from her contract. He has heard that the ship where she is to perform has had shady dealings with criminals in the past. The producer really wants Leonie because she's very popular and he won't release her. As Kilian is talking to Martini about this the producer slumps over dead, a paper cutter in his back. We don't see the murderer but we know Marta has not left the building.

 

sevensins.jpg

 

The police arrive and try to pin the murder on Kilian because he presumably was the last person to see Martini alive. While the investigation is going on Marta is working behind the scenes to make sure she gets on that cruise ship. She befriends an obviously gay pianist and performer and wows him with her dancing. Some of the best scenes in this strange picture are between the two of them; there's lots of clowning around, which helps break up the tension of the murder investigation.

 

Marta visits Kilian and makes a pass at him, trying to woo him away from Leonie. She tells him she knows he was the last visitor Martini had in his office, which startles him. Leonie walks in on their embrace and is at first jealous but then she realizes he is innocent of any wrongdoing (though it is insinuated Marta and Kilian have had a past relationship).

 

Marta manages to get on the cruise ship. There are obvious criminal elements on board but the entertainment goes on as usual. There are also disguised police detectives on board, watching every move of Marta and Kilian and Leonie. Just when things are coming to a head in the investigation the film ends prematurely because the last reel is missing. The film titles fill in what happens. Marta is arrested as the murderer of Martini and Leonie and Kilian are free to marry.

 

There's some interesting camera work here, like strange cut off close ups and lots of shadow play on the walls. I said to my husband, "This cameraman is obsessed with shadows." Sometimes you are staring at the shadows instead of the actors!

 

It's probably not one of Brigette's best films and it's frustrating that it isn't complete, but she does look striking in the film and I'm glad I saw it.

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I watched *Lazybones* (1925) out of the Borzage-Murnau box set tonight. Really enjoyed it. A nice bittersweet and gentle Victorian story. I didn't think the score bad at all. It was most appropriate for the film. I loved all the performances, especially by Buck Jones. I thought maybe, just maybe, his character would end up with Agnes (Jane Novak) after all but I guess she just lost her chance by being such a wimp about not standing up to her mother. We must ALWAYS stand up to those who would oppress us, and not let them get away with their nonsense. :)

 

Man, Emily Fitzroy had one ooogly face! lol

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