1921-1930

Tod Browning – The Unknown (1927)

Quote:
A criminal on the run hides in a circus and seeks to possess the daughter of the ringmaster at any cost. Read More »

Géza von Bolváry – Ein Tango für Dich (1930)

This is Willi Forst’s second collaboration with director Géza von Bolvary, made shortly after the far better known “Zwei Herzen im Dreivierteltakt” (in which he didn’t have first billing, though). Again, the script is by Walter Reisch and the music is by Robert Stolz.

In “Ein Tango für Dich”, Forst plays Jimmy Bolt, who is working as a singer and dancer (and occcasionally as a waiter) at a varieté. The man may be talented, but he’s not exactly a big success, and things get complicated when a young orphan girl (Fee Malten) falls in love with the voice of another singer (Oskar Karlweis) but then mistakes Bolt for him… Read More »

Robert Siodmak & Edgar G. Ulmer & Billy Wilder – Menschen am Sonntag (1930)

Criterion wrote:
Years before they became major players in Hollywood, a group of young German filmmakers—including eventual noir masters Robert Siodmak and Edgar G. Ulmer and future Oscar winners Billy Wilder and Fred Zinnemann—worked together on the once-in-a-lifetime collaboration People on Sunday (Menschen am Sonntag). This effervescent, sunlit silent, about a handful of city dwellers (a charming cast of nonprofessionals) enjoying a weekend outing, offers a rare glimpse of Weimar-era Berlin. A unique hybrid of documentary and fictional storytelling, People on Sunday was both an experiment and a mainstream hit that would influence generations of film artists around the world. Read More »

Tod Browning – The Thirteenth Chair (1929)

Although his murdered friend was by all accounts a scoundrel a true “bounder” Edward Wales is determined to trap his killer by staging a seance using a famous medium. Many of the 13 seance participants had a reason and a means to kill, and one of them uses the cover of darkness to kill again. When someone close to the medium is suspected she turns detective, in the hope of uncovering the true murderer. Read More »

Mannus Franken & Joris Ivens – Regen aka Rain (1929)

Quote:
A day in the life of a rain-shower. As a city symphony Joris Ivens films Amsterdam and its changing appearence during a rain-shower. A very poetic film with changing moods, following the change from sunny Amsterdam streets to rain drops in the canals and the pooring rain on windows, umbrellas, trams and streets, untill it clears up and the sun breaks through once again. Although it seems to be one day it took Ivens a long time to film what he wanted to film (for even in Amsterdam it doesn’t rain every day). With The Bridge, Rain became his major breakthrough as an avant-garde film artist. In 1932 Joris Ivens asked Lou Lichtveld (who also made the music for Philips Radio) to make a sound version of it, and in 1941 the film inspired Hanns Eisler to compose his “Fourteen ways to describe rain” in the context of a ‘Film Music Project’. Read More »

Grigori Kozintsev & Leonid Trauberg – S.V.D. – Soyuz velikogo dela AKA Union of the Great Cause (1927)

(imdb)
A failed Russian Revolution succeeded magnificently on screen., 3 June 1999
Author: Theodore J. van Houten from Haamstede, 4328 ZG 1 Netherlands

S.V.D. was released in August 1927. A beautiful costume drama, it is on the other hand a somewhat expressionistic, poetical fantasy. Its photography and images are more important than its desired political contents. The script, written by the inspiring historian Yuri Tinyanov (director Leonid Trauberg [1901-1990]could speak about Tinyanov for hours) supplied a failed love story, a political intrigue involving two czars, and a traveling circus background. The picture glorifies the 1825 ‘Decembrists’ uprisal: officers in the imperial Russian army are fed up with the new czar’s autocracy. Read More »

Yakov Bliokh – Shanhkayskiy dokument AKA The Shanghai Document (1928)

The Shanghai Document is an early documentary film. This silent film was directed by Yakov Bliokh (1895-1957) and was released in the USSR in 1928. The film portrays Shanghai, China in the early 1920s. It shows the contrasts between the world of Western expatriates (including Britons, Americans, New Zealanders, Australians, and Danes) who live in the luxurious Shanghai International Settlement, and that of the Shanghainese inhabitants, who spend their days laboring. The events which inspired the film revolve around the Chinese nationalist revolution (1925-27), including the May Thirtieth Movement, and the First United Front of the Chinese Communist Party, and the Nationalists (the Kuomintang), and its collapse in February 1927 when Chiang Kai-shek ordered a purge of the Communists in Shanghai and in other cities held by the revolutionaries. Read More »