Monday, August 30, 2010

The Iron Mask (1929) Douglas Fairbanks, Alexander Dumas

Directed by Alan Dwan

In this film, the Four Musketeers - Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D'Artagnan - all sleep together in one bed, with the French phrase 'Un Pour Tous, Tous Pour Un' (One For All, All For One) inscribed on the headboard.

In the prologue, the four musketeers stand in a framing device, as a medieval stage booth, and D'Artagnan steps forward and speaks to the audience, then steps back and resumes his position with the other three, who remained motionless; after the mid-point intermission, the same situation is repeated, with D'Artagnan speaking again to the audience, finishing with the words, "once more, once more...", after which the film resumes with the title card "20 years later". These were the two Douglas Fairbanks' first scenes with spoken dialogue, in his last silent film.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Outside The Law (1920) Lon Chaney, Tod Browning

Director: Tod Browning

Outside the Law is a 1920 crime film directed by Tod Browning. Browning remade the film in 1930.

Black Mike (Lon Chaney) is a despicable gangster who lures Molly (Priscilla Dean), the daughter of a San Francisco underworld leader, back to a life of crime. Mike frames Molly's father for murder and then plots to double-cross her as well. But Molly's hard heart is slowly melted by her gangster lover. The film ends with in a climactic shootout.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Broken Blossoms (1919) D.W. Griffith, Lillian Gish

Director: D.W. Griffith

Stars: Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, and Donald Crisp

Cheng Huan is a missionary whose goal is to bring the teachings of peace by Buddha to the civilized Anglo-Saxons. Upon landing in England, he is quickly disillusioned by the intolerance and apathy of the country. He becomes a storekeeper of a small shop. Out his window, he sees the young Lucy Burrows. She is regularly beaten by her prizefighter father, underfed and wears ragged clothes. Even in this deplorable condition, Cheng can see that she is a priceless beauty and he falls in love with her from afar. On the day that she passes out in front of his store, he takes her in and cares for her. With nothing but love in his heart, he dresses her in silks and provides food for her. Still weak, she stays in his shop that night and all that Cheng does is watch over her. The peace and happiness that he sees last only until Battling Burrows finds out that his daughter is with a foreigner.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916) Jules Verne, Carl Laemmle

Directed by Stuart Paton
Produced by Carl Laemmle

This film became famous for its groundbreaking work in actual underwater photography by George M. Williamson and J. Ernest Williamson. The actual undersea footage was shot in the Bahamas due to the unusually clear water. When this film was remade by Walt Disney 38 years later, they came to this same spot for their undersea footage.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Faust: Eine deutsche Volkssage (1926) F.W. Murnau's Last German Production

F.W. Murnau's last German production before leaving for Hollywood is a visually dazzling take on the Faust myth. Pushing the resources of the grand old German studio UFA to the limits, Murnau creates an epic vision of good versus evil as devil Emil Jannings tempts an idealistic aging scholar with youth, power, and romance. The handsome but wan Swedish actor Gosta Ekman plays the made-over Faust as a perfectly shallow scoundrel drunk with youth, and the lovely Camilla Horn (in a part written for Lillian Gish) is the young virgin courted, then cast aside, by Faust. The sheer scale of Murnau's epic and the magnificent play of light, shadow, and mist on his exquisitely designed sets makes this one of the most cinematically ambitious, visually breathtaking, and beautiful classics of the silent era.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

By the Sun's Rays (1914) Lon Chaney, Tod Browning

Directed by Tod Browning.

Mine boss Seymour Hastings (John Davis) suspects an inside accomplice when gold shipments keep getting stolen, so he sends east for help and is sent detective Murdock MacQuarrie (John Murdock). The detective sets out before the next shipment with a posse and finds that mine clerk Lon Chaney (Frank Lawler) is using a mirror to signal the bandits that shipments have left the mine.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mabel's Dramatic Career (1913) Mack Sennett, Mabel Normand, Fatty Arbuckle, Keystone Kops

Director: Mack Sennett
Production Company: Keystone Film Company

An all-star Keystone cast, featuring Mabel Normand, Mack Sennet, Fatty Arbuckle, Ford Sterling and the Keystone Kops. After a brief love affair, Mack rejects his maid Mabel. She moves on after a nasty altercation. He later discovers she has become a star on the silver screen.