As an avid fan of classic films, one would think I would have discovered silent movies, long before I finally did. However, as someone who loves the nuances of language and appreciates great dialogue, I was under the mistaken impression that a silent picture couldn’t possibly hold my interest, especially for the length of a feature film.
God bless Buster Keaton, because he was the one who finally broke through the prejudices I had formed. Fortunately, my affinity for comedy was too great. I took a chance on this legendary comedian and watched his much praised film The General. I was enthralled and began to seek out all of his films I could find. This led me also to discover the other two comedians of the silent film comedy triumvirate, Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd and then the genius shorts of Laurel and Hardy.
My first memorable experience with a silent romantic drama was Frank Borzage’s Lucky Star. I was dazzled by the narrative, the performances of Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, the cinematography. The fact that I could sit spell bound for almost two hours was proof that despite their differences from “talkies” silent films were just as powerful a story telling medium and just as addicting in entertainment factor.
Since then, I have continued in my personal discovery of silent films. I’ve sought out those by actors whose sound pictures I love, and also those whose popularity and success was greatest in film’s early decades. I’ve mostly watched silents featuring those with star power behind them; names like Norma Shearer, Pola Negri, Mary Pickford, Rudolph Valentino, Greta Garbo and John Gilbert among others. I’ve discovered pictures I love and those I didn’t (I’m looking at you Salomé and Battleship Potemkin).
I’ve learned a new appreciation for this art form that changed significantly with the advent of sound. And yet even now, I still sometimes find them intimidating, especially the longer ones. Which is why I’ve only recently watched The Big Parade and Wings and still haven’t seen most of Lillian Gish’s most successful pictures. But whenever I bravely venture back into the world of silent films, I’m rarely disappointed.
To celebrate this overlooked and oft misunderstood period in cinema, I want to share with you some of my favorite and more memorable discoveries; from pictures to actors and even a director. Continue reading “My Silent Film Favorites – 1920’s Centenary Blogathon”
Eliza Belcourt has everything money can buy, except the love and approval of her parents. After they force her into an unwanted engagement to save her father’s business, Eliza flees to New York City to pursue her dream of being a famous singer.
Hugh Whitmore has loved Eliza for years. When Eliza rejects him, he heads to New York to expand his father’s business. He is also determined to prove to Eliza that they are perfect for each other.
Warren Moore is a dangerous and mysterious man. Only twenty three, he has risen in the ranks of New York’s Irish mafia by doing whatever was necessary. It’s a world where trust doesn’t exist and loyalty is everything. When Warren’s past catches up with him, it is his loyalty that becomes suspect.
Three people looking for approval. Eliza, Hugh and Warren find their lives slowly intermingling in New York. But they may be surprised by just how much they have in common. Continue reading “Book Review – Ramble and Roar”
During a summer holiday, a modern young woman from the city visits the countryside. While there, she strikes up an affair with a once happily married farmer. It’s a destructive affair, leading the farmer almost to the edge of personal and financial ruin. Not to mention the breaking of his wife’s heart.
As the end of summer nears, the home-wrecking mistress begs the farmer to follow her back to the city. When he mentions his wife, she darkly suggests it would be great if she could “get drowned.” Under her spell, the farmer agrees to take his wife out on the lake. Suspecting nothing, his wife’s happy to have a day out to herself with her husband. Until she sees the look in his eye. But, when it comes time to follow through, the husband’s tormented by the memories of his wife’s goodness and their happiness together.
Watching Sunrise actually brought to mind Proverbs’ warnings to a young man about the dangers of an evil woman. Although I’m sure Sunrise had different inspiration, in some ways, I felt like I was watching those biblical admonishments come to life.
To read my full review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat.
In The Sheik, Lady Diana Mayo is an aristocratic orphan visiting the African town of Biskra. With only her brother to guide her, she has become wild, independent and naively fearless. Diana plans an extended tour of the desert with no one other than a local guide to protect her. Her local fellow British aristocrats warn Diana about the dangers to a local single woman travelling alone, but they she ignores them.
The night before her departure, Diana visits a local casino. To her dismay, she is denied entrance because of a private party for a young sheik. In defiance, Diana disguises herself and sneaks into the casino. It is not long until she is discovered by the Sheik, Ahmed Ben Hassan. Though he expels her, she has also caught his eye. Diana finds him equally fascinating.
Not long after she heads into the desert, Diana and her guide are surrounded by what appear to be Bedouin warriors. But, as she soon discovers, it is Ahmed. He quickly abducts her, whisking her away to his desert camp. Ahmed has his own plans for Diana, but she refuses him at every turn. It is a battle of the wills and wits. The sheik is accustomed to immediate obedience but Diana is not about to surrender her independence.
Though, she attempts to escape, eventually Diana accepts her gilded prison. But she still refuses to yield her heart to Ahmed. Just when she finally comes to terms with her emotions towards the Sheik, she is kidnapped once again by a bandit with nefarious purposes in mind. This forces both Ahmed and Diana to face the truth about their relationship. Will the Sheik recapture both Diana and her heart?
To read my full review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat.
Six teenagers’ lives intertwine during one thrilling summer full of romantic misunderstandings and dangerous deals in this sparkling retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
After she gets kicked out of boarding school, seventeen-year-old Beatrice goes to her uncle’s estate on Long Island. But Hey Nonny Nonny is more than just a rundown old mansion. Beatrice’s cousin, Hero, runs a struggling speakeasy out of the basement—one that might not survive the summer.
Along with Prince, a poor young man determined to prove his worth; his brother, John, a dark and dangerous agent of the local mob; Benedick, a handsome trust-fund kid trying to become a writer; and Maggie, a beautiful and talented singer; Beatrice and Hero throw all their efforts into planning a massive party to save the speakeasy. Despite all their worries, the summer is beautiful, love is in the air, and Beatrice and Benedick are caught up in a romantic battle of wits that their friends might be quietly orchestrating in the background. Continue reading “Book Review -Speak Easy, Speak Love”
Since the death of her fiancé Jack Lund ten years ago in the Great War, Marjorie Corrigan has remained in her small town, working in her father’s dry-goods store, letting life pass her by. Although she is now engaged to a great catch, she doesn’t love him like she did Jack. With grave doubts about marrying the most sought after bachelor in town, Marjie heads off to the big city of Chicago for a brief stay.
But Chicago makes her feel truly alive for the first time in forever. And when she bumps into a stranger who looks exactly like Jack, she knows she can’t return home. With the help of her new friend Dot, Marjie secures an apartment and a job with Marshall Fields where the familiar looking stranger is also employed.
While trying to reconcile the fact that Peter Bachmann looks exactly like her lost love Jack, Marjie is also experiencing a personal emotional journey of discovery. As she grows and changes so too does her desire for her current fiancé and her life back home. With her wedding quickly approaching and Chicago feeling more and more like home, Marjie has some big decisions to make. Continue reading “Book Review -You’re the Cream in My Coffee”