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WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

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drednm
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby drednm » August 29th, 2010, 8:23 am

Apparently there was a Technicolor sequence in The Call of the Flesh with Novarro singing "Vesti la Giubba" from Pagliacci which Novarro referred to severasl times but we never get to see it. The sequence is lost.

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby charliechaplinfan » August 29th, 2010, 2:25 pm

I watched Ladies of Leisure one of Frank Capra's first forays into directing. A good movie, a brilliant showcase for Barbara Stanwyck as a paid party girl who inspires a rich artist and makes him fall in love with her. Ralph Graves is the artist, Lowell Sherman his drunken friend and Marie Prevost, Barbara's friend. I completely enjoyed the movie apart from the ongoing joke about Marie Prevost's weight. One of the better early talkies.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby MichiganJ » August 29th, 2010, 4:15 pm

charliechaplinfan wrote:I watched Ladies of Leisure one of Frank Capra's first forays into directing.

I like this film but it really is a shame about what they did to poor Marie Prevost. It seem in almost all of her talkies she's either required to make fun of her weight or be eating, usually both.

Capra had been directing since the silents days, pretty much getting his big break when Harry Langdon gave him the job to direct Langdon in The Strong Man. Later Capra would re-imagine (aka: lie) about discovering Langdon, but that's another matter. Capra would also director the fun Power of the Press (1928) with Doug Fairbanks, Jr and Jobyna as well as one of my favorites, The Matinee Idol (1928), with Bessie Love, as well as others.
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charliechaplinfan
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby charliechaplinfan » August 29th, 2010, 5:19 pm

I've seen The Matinee Idol and The Strong Man, the later being my favorite of all the Langdon films I've seen. The credit he claimed for Langdon's career didn't put him in a good light, which s a pity.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby silentscreen » August 29th, 2010, 8:48 pm

I could never really get into Langdon's character. There are so many others who were better IMO, including Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, and Chase. My personal favorite of his was also "The Strong Man", which I thought was brilliant.
"Humor is nothing less than a sense of the fitness of things." Carole Lombard

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby MichiganJ » August 30th, 2010, 9:48 am

I really like Langdon's minimalistic approach to comedy and think The Strong Man rates as high as any of the big three's best features. Chapin even borrowed the blind girl for City Lights.
"Let's be independent together." Dr. Hermey DDS

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby feaito » August 30th, 2010, 2:28 pm

I saw these films over the weekend:

A Cottage on Dartmoor” (1929) This wonderfully atmospheric, beautiful and strangely poetic film, must be one of the very best Silents I’ve seen lately. I found it a true work of art and very closely related to the German Expressionistic films. One of the aspects I liked most about this Silent directed by Anthony Asquith, was the scarce use of intertitles. A Silent director who does not need many intertitles to tell a story is a masterful craftsman. Impressive cinematography and performances. 10/10. Thanks Alison for sharing this one.

City Streets” (1931) A feast for the eyes; what else can one expect if the cinematographer is Lee Garmes? Beautifully filmed in B&W and thanks to Christine I got to watch a pristine, sharp print aired by TCM France. Mamoulian’s way of shooting scenes from different perspectives, with imaginative and elegant camera movements makes this Gangster-Crime melodrama, quite different from anything one has seen from the Gangster studio supreme Warner Brothers. Gary Cooper plays the good natured boyfriend of Sylvia Sidney, who –influenced by her in the first place- ends working for a Gang who’s on the Beer racket. Paul Lukas plays the rather nasty “Big Boss”, Guy Kibbe’s Sidney’s Step-Pop and Wynne Gibson Lukas’ moll. A visually stunning, very good Pre-Code. If only we could have pristine transfers of all the Paramounts from the 1930s…

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby drednm » August 30th, 2010, 3:14 pm

I watched The Last Command. On a movie set in 1927 there is a call for an extra to play a Russian general in a war scene. The director (William Powell) calls in an old man (Emil Jannings) who receives the call at his boarding house. The old and confused man arrived at the studio amid a crowd of extras. As he pins a medal on his costume, he tells the story of how the Czar had given it to him and we flash back to 1917.

Jannings is a general in the Russian army and a cousin to the czar, He recalls dealing with two revolutionaries: a theatre director (Powell) and a beautiful actress (Evelyn Brent). While Powell is sent off to prison (from which he escapes) he takes Brent along with him as a consort. She eventually learns that his love for Russia is true and deep and she falls for him.

But while on a train to Petrograd, revolutionaries overtake the train and kill most of the military men. As they beat and harangue the general, Brent jumps to the front (in a remarkable sequence) and demands that they take him to Petrograd to hang him in public. Brandishing her revolutionary flag in the wintry wind while she screams to the crowds, Brent is just superb.

As the train proceeds with its prized prisoner, Brent helps Jannings jump off the train to safety as she explains this was the only way she could save him. From a snowbank, the general watches as the train speeds away across a bridge over an icy river.

Back in Hollywood, the old man is stirred by his memories of old Russia and as the movie scene is set he blinks and stares at the familiar images of war. As the director yells "lights, camera, action" the old man, who has now totally lost his hold on reality, engages in a ferocious scene of war action, raising the flag of old Russia in one last burst of glory, his last command.

Emil Jannings is nothing short of superb in this film and won the first Best Actor Oscar for it; the finale is an emotional tour de force. Evelyn Brent gives perhaps her finest performance. This was an important film role for William Powell as well.

This is a beautifully done film and is not to be missed. But be warned: this is an emotional roller coaster.

feaito

Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby feaito » September 7th, 2010, 10:38 am

Thanks to Christine I watched "Romance" (1930), which from what I saw was filmed in sepia-tone. It's an interesting film and besides the interest of seeing Garbo (Rita Cavallini, a renowned Italian Opera singer) at the peak of her beauty and beautifully dressed in period costumes, Lewis Stone's very good performance as her rich lover is another point of interest; a truly noteworthy performance. Garbo is Garbo, either you love her or not....her eyes and movements are quite enthralling and she looks gorgeous in this particular film. I still think that her magic was better captured and displayed in Silents, but I enjoyed this photoplay. Gavin Gordon had a very masculine, deep-toned voice, ideally suited for those early microphones of the early talkies and he's fine as the young clergyman in love with "La Cavallini".

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby Ann Harding » September 8th, 2010, 7:44 am

Recently, I have been watching quite a few silents. First some Asta Nielsen silents thanks to the excellent DVD published by the Danish Film Institute.

Afgrunden (The Abyss, 1910) by Urban Gad (soon to be Nielsen's husband) is really a ground breaking picture, first for its length: 37 min and for its sensual and highly censorable content. Asta pays Madga a young woman who has fallen in love with a Vicar's son. While spending a holiday with him and his parents, she meets a very alluring circus cowboy. Spellbound, she escapes with him. Later, while performing a very erotic dance with him, she realises he is unfaithful. This is then a slow decent towards 'the abyss' for her... Asta Nielsen was highly charismatic and unusual for her time. She was tall, slim and slightly androgynous years before Dietrich and Garbo ever appeared on screen. In Afrungen, she dances an incredibly sensual dance, moving her hips in a very suggestive manner. It's not surprising that she was so successful, the early movie stars of the screen in 1910 in France, like Mistinguett or Suzanne Grandais, were playing far tamer parts. Even if they display some real talent, they were not allowed to play such 'liberated women' as the ones of Danish cinema.

In Mod Lyset (Towards The Light, 1919) directed by Holger-Madsen, she plays a rich and frivolous countess who likes to drive men mad. Her very attitude will be her downfall. She marries an Italian aristocrat who turns out to be a fake and a crook. He is arrested just after the wedding. She becomes a recluse with her sick mother until one day she meets a charismatic preacher who helps the poor. She falls madly in love with him. In this later production, which shows how much the grammar of cinema had moved on in a space of 9 years, Nielsen is the sinner who repents and becomes a woman of good preaching to the poor and needy. If the story sounds a little ridiculous, her acting is totally convincing. The film is shot in beautiful locations and the acting is overall extremely good.

A Gentleman of Paris (1927, H. d'Abbadie d'Arrast) with Adolphe Menjou is a brilliant comedy. Menjou leads a particularly complex life with many mistresses, until his fiancee arrives in Paris with his future father-in-law. Thankfully, his perfect valet (hints of Jeeves there!) always manages to help him out of the worst situation. He is ready to reform quietly, but he commits the most stupid blunder: his valet discovers he has an affair with his own wife. From that point, he is in hot water. The valet prepares a very sophisticated revenge... D'Abbadie d'Arrast is almost forgotten nowadays, but he was a very good director of comedies. This very sophisticated little jewel is a delight thanks to the performance and the subtle narrative. D'Arrast moves his camera with great ease as well. Delightful!

Nemye svideteli (Silent Witnesses, 1914) is another brilliant picture by the fabulous Russian director Evgeni Bauer. It explores the upstairs/downstairs in a rich Russian family. Nastia is employed as a servant. The son becomes her lover. And while she is genuily in love with him, he turns out to be just a pleasure seaker, abandoning her quickly for a rich wife (also unfaithful). Amazingly, the film boasts a porter, large, bearded and portly, which looks like E. Jannings in The Last Laugh (1924, FW Murnau). But this film was made a full 10 years before the Murnau. As usual with Bauer, the sets, the lighting, the composition and the acting are incredible. I consider Bauer one of the best directors of the teens. He is a very important figure in the history of cinema.

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby charliechaplinfan » September 8th, 2010, 4:36 pm

Thank you Nancy, for He Who Gets Slapped, one of MGM's first films and one in which Leo the lion gets to play a key role. Lon Chaney plays a scientist cum clown in an unprobable plot but it being Chaney he elevates it beyond the realms of the usual. He's superb as HE, somber and slightly frightening and unhinged in turns. He loves Consuelo played by Norma Shearer who is loved in turn by John Gilbert, looking very lithe and handsome. Seeing him here, he looks the physically fitnest of all his silent contemproraries and although he hasn't a huge part he makes an impact.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby charliechaplinfan » September 10th, 2010, 3:50 pm

I watched a naughty little precode called Strangers May Kiss starring Norma Shearer and costarring Robert Montgomery and Neil Hamilton. Norma plays Lizbeth, she doesn't believe in marriage and loves a man who doesn't want to marry her, the man, Alan is played by Neil Hamilton, Robert Montgomery plays a man who does want to marry her and asks her continually despite her behaviour which gets more and more risque throughout the film. First she travels and lives with her lover and then, discovering he's married and abandoned in Mexico, she takes off for Europe and gets a reputation as a good time girl. Alan return to Paris after 2 years and sends her a telegram asking her to marry him. He soon discovers once in Paris that she has a reputation, 'shadows on the wall' that come between them. He cannot forgive her her behaviour, even though he gave her up for his career and never asked her to wait for him. Disguarded she returns to New York, Robert Montgomery despite all the rejections is still anxious to marry her but once again she rejects him. In New York Alan turns up again, this time more forgiving, they eventually reconcile. Although there is a bit of a confused narrative ie Lizbeth rejects Robert Montgomery because he can accept her past believing that he can't truly love her if he can forgive her whereas once Alan becomes more forgiving she accepts that he does love her. The book on which this movie was based has Lizbeth ending up as a suicide, in this version she ends up with Alan.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby knitwit45 » September 10th, 2010, 4:59 pm

sounds like the book has a happier ending! :roll: :roll: Alan sounds like a total jerk....

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby charliechaplinfan » September 10th, 2010, 5:44 pm

Neither of the guys inspired me much but Norma was worth watching.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby Birdy » September 10th, 2010, 9:09 pm

Ooh, I love that one. Doesn't it have one little suicide, in the beginning?
All good precodes need one little suicide.
Of course, Norma's dresses are stunning as usual, her hair frightening as usual.
I do love RM's character.
I'm editing because I may have this one in a blur with the Divorce. I'll have to think on it. Love them both.
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