Silent Films

j d worthington

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My only caution about that first volume would be: Cool Air, while retaining quite a lot of HPL's story, does have to stretch things a bit in order to make a bit longer film; however, I think they did very well with it, and showed a enormous respect for the material; and Jack Donner's performance as Doctor Munoz is absolutely superb! He brings several layers to the character that are only hinted at by HPL, but are quite valid. The shorts here, too, are slightly less well-done than on the other volumes, but that's because they were quite literally people getting a camera and doing what they could with very limited resources. Nonetheless, they, too, show an enormous respect for the original material and have a very nice feel to them. (And "The Hapless Antiquarian", with its homage to Edward Gorey, is utterly delightful.)

Vol. 2, with Rough Magik, is an original story and subtly played. Pity the Beeb didn't pick this up as a series, it could have been remarkably good. And the take on The Terrible Old Man is very modern and very nasty, but also very well done.

Vol. 3, with Out of Mind, though, I think is the real gem; I don't know if you folks received the broadcast of this (it was originally done on Canadian television), but it is a superb bit of Lovecraftian film, taking snippets from his stories and his letters and weaving them with a modern person's life, which becomes entwined with both the past and with Lovecraft's life and dreams -- Christopher Heyerdahl as HPL is almost uncanny -- he IS HPL, exactly as one would picture him from reading his letters and the memoirs of him. The special effects are kept to a minimum, and the emphasis is on atmosphere, acting, and a wonderful script and direction, and great use of imagination. I can't wait to see what the next volume will hold (the festival is later this year, so I have high hopes). Suffice to say that even the least deserving of things on these discs makes Hollywood's imagination quotient look pretty poor in comparison.
 

Foxbat

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Picked up an interesting book recently - From Caligari To Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film

Although some of it has now been discredited (written in 1947) it makes some interesting observations on early German silent cinema - especially of how and why it evolved the way it did. Caligari in particular is a bit of an eye opener. In a nutshell - the two original script writers protested at the framing of their intended movie with extra storyline at beginning and end. The interesting thing is...take away this framing and you get a movie with a completely different slant that focuses on the insanity of tyranny. Quite prophetic considering the rise of Hitler soon after.

Anyway, just thought I'd mention the book for anybody that might be interested :)
 

SFAM

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Greetings. For my favorite silent films, probably they'd be in this order:

1. Metropolis (Lang, 1927): It's great to see a cyberpunk film from 55 years prior to what's generally considered the first one. The restored Kino edition is just wonderful. I recently bought Lang's "M" and Die Niebelungen, but I haven't seen these yet.

2. Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, 1928): Falconetti gives us one of the best performances ever on film. And truly, Richard Einhorn's Voices of Light accompanyment is just wonderful.

3. Nosferatu (Murnau, 1922): I'm not as taken with Dreyer's Vampyr as some are, but I LOVE Nosferatu.

4. Gold Rush (Chaplin, 1925): while I love most of his stuff, this is my favorite movie of his. Easy Street (1917) is my favorite short of his.

5. Thief of Bagdad (Walsh, 1924): I do like this a lot, although I must confess I like the 1940 version more.
 

Foxbat

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The Passion Of Joan Of Arc is a remarkable piece of film. The performances of all concerned were top drawer. And that ending had just an incredibly real feel to it. One of my favourites also:)
 

Ozymandias

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Anyone seen The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926-7)? It's a fantasy adventure that uses paper cutout animation. It was also hand tinted, a process that (I believe) took ages.
 

j d worthington

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Yes, as a matter of fact, I caught it on TCM about (I think) two years ago... lovely film, very different, and quite effective! And of some interest to fantasy fans, for that matter. Well worth seeking out....
 

Milk

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M by Fritz Lang same director as Metropolis.

The General with Buster Keaton in it. I like Chapman too but I would choose Keaton over Chapman. Buster Keatons's stunts were amazing. When I saw the original Jackie Chan movies I kept being reminded of Buster Keaton. The General is my favorite movie with Buster Keaton and it still holds the test of time. It's a great movie.
 

ravenus

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Milk said:
The General with Buster Keaton in it. I like Chapman too but I would choose Keaton over Chapman.
Chaplin, you may mean. That's interesting, since I've seen a good deal of Chaplin's films but none of Buster Keaton. I should hunt down some and take a look.
 

j d worthington

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Ravenus: Keaton is definitely worth checking out... Check to see which films he actually directed; because, once the studio started deciding who directed the film, they began to completely override his artistic decisions, much to the detriment of the films (I mean, casting him opposite Jimmy Durante????). But Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd remain the three geniuses of silent comedy, and each has plenty of things from the period well worth watching....

A few suggestions on Keaton:

The General
The Projectionist
Spite Marriage
Steamboat Bill, Jr.

Also, if you can find it, a short by the title (if I'm remembering correctly) of The Theatre, where Buster played literally every part in it ... including scenes where you see the audience, where he played everything from an old man to a baby....


If you like these, let me know, and I'll give you some more titles....
 

ravenus

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@jd:

Thanks for the recommendations. The last you mention sounds a bit like this movie Kind Hearts and Coronets where Alec Guiness (who regretfully is known more for the boring role of Ben Kenobi) plays all the members of a large aristocratic family.
 

warhammer

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Anyone seen The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926-7)? It's a fantasy adventure that uses paper cutout animation. It was also hand tinted, a process that (I believe) took ages.
Yep! Very different and original, liked it a lot.
 

scarface

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I remember watching Camille,Camille with Garbo as a child & crying my puny little Heart Out.I also loved The Ghost & Mrs. Muir.I know,not silent but still classic!
 

SpaceShip

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This is an interesting thread Foxbat - thanks for it. I don't know whether the Laurel and Hardy "piano" film was silent but it has to be one of my favourites. One thing I sometimes do when watching a "non-silent" movie is click on the mute button. This shows me two things. First, just what excellent actors the silent movie stars were and, secondly, just how good or bad the speakie movie actors are. With no sound, it is sometimes very easy to see how bad some of the acting actually is - very unnatural.
 

j d worthington

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SS: As I recall, they did both a silent and a later sound version of that ... and it was something of a comedic standby sketch. I'm going on a very (40-years-or-so) old memory here, but I seem to recall seeing this sketch done also by Keaton (with Fatty Arbuckle, I think?) and, perhaps, Chaplin in the silent era ... and the Three Stooges did one, as I recall, in the sound era. (As I said, this may be a faulty memory; anyone who knows for certain, please pass on the information pro or contra.)
 

SpaceShip

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j.d. - I believe you. And for the amount of info that is stored up in that head of yours, I think you can be forgiven for forgetting some minor bits of info.
 

Foxbat

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Has anybody seen Der Tunnel? Apparently its a classic of silent German Cinema. I've just ordered a copy of the 1934 (English ) sound re-make but I can't seem to find an outlet where I can get my grubby mits on an original version.
 

j d worthington

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Has anybody seen Der Tunnel? Apparently its a classic of silent German Cinema. I've just ordered a copy of the 1934 (English ) sound re-make but I can't seem to find an outlet where I can get my grubby mits on an original version.
I've not seen any listings for this one, I'm afraid. You might check into some of the more obscure companies, but that's always risky -- some are completely reputable but small, others..... Interesting to note that Max Schreck is in the original of this:

Max Schreck: A History of Horror

And German cinema of this period is always fascinating to me, so if you come across anyplace that's got it ... let us know, please?
 

pyan

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For those in the UK with Sky, Sky Cinema 1 is showing Safety Last, starring Harold Lloyd, on Sunday, December 17th, at 6.30pm. This is the one with the famous "hanging off the clock" scene in it, and is rated *** in Halliwell's guide.

Marvellous star comedy which set a new standard not only in sightgags but in the comedy-thrill stunts which became Lloyd's stock-in-trade.
Halliwell's Film & Video Guide, 2003
 

Madeline

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One of my favorites is Greed (1924) with Zazu Pitts, Gibson Gowland, and the great Jean Hersholt.

I've been purchasing my movies through Overstock, but do you know of other places to purchase them? I would appreciate knowing.
 
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