Monta Bell – Torrent (1926)

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IMDb review:

Greta Garbo’s American film debut is an analogy of how our lives can be swept off course by fate and our actions, as in a torrent, causing us to lose a part of ourselves along the way.

Greta plays Leonora, a poor peasant girl in love with Ricardo Cortez’s character Don Rafael, a landowner. Ricardo is in love with her too, but is too easily influenced by his domineering mother. Leonora ends up homeless and travels to Paris, where she becomes a famous opera singer and develops the reputation for being a loose woman. In reality, part of her attitude is bitterness over Rafael’s abandonment. Continue reading

Jean Epstein – L’auberge rouge AKA The Red Inn (1923)

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Based on the story by Honoré de Balzac. Caught in a storm, two young doctors book into an inn for the night and find themselves sharing a room with a Dutch diamond merchant. During the night Prosper steals from the merchant, but when he awakes in the morning he finds the merchant dead and his friend gone. When the stolen property is found on him he is arrested for the crime and executed. 25 years later the innkeeper’s daughter relates the tale to a traveler, who in turn later relates it at a dinner party. At that party is Frederic Taillefer, the missing friend and murderer. Continue reading

Vsevolod Pudovkin – Mat AKA Mother (1926)

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The son of a worthless alcoholic father and a hardworking mother leads
an illegal strike during the failed 1905 uprising. In an attempt to save
her son, the mother inadvertently gives him away to the police, but
gradually turns to communism after experiencing injustice and suffering.

Pudovkin’s first feature turns Maxim Gorky’s rambling novel into a
tightly constructed narrative. The film’s emotional and visual impact
has not diminished with time, nor has Baranovskaya’s
performance. – Holt’s Foreign Film Guide. Continue reading

Mikhail Kalatozov – Jim Shvante (marili svanets) AKA Salt For Svanetia (1930)

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Quote:
The Georgian-born filmmaker Michail Kalatozov (19031973) is best remembered for directing some of the most innovative and successful Soviet films of the 1950s and 1960s. This DVD presents digitally restored versions of two of his lesser-known, early works, which were highly controversial in their time but now rank among the finest achievements in Soviet silent cinema. Salt for Svanetia is an austere depiction of peasant life in the inhospitable terrain of the Caucasus Mountains. Nail in the Boot, a biting parable of wartime irresponsibility, chillingly prefigures the later Stalinist purge trials. Günter Buchwald’s and Stephen Horne’s prize-winning scores and the experimental accompaniment by Masha Khotimshi underline the poetic and expressive visual style of these exceptional masterpieces. Continue reading

John Ford – The Iron Horse [US Version] (1924)

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allmovie wrote:
David Brandon (James Gordon) is a surveyor in the Old West who dreams that one day the entire North American continent will be linked by railroads. However, to make this dream a reality, a clear trail must be found through the Rocky Mountains. With his boy Davy (Winston Miller), David sets out to find such a path, but he’s ambushed by a tribe of Indians led by a white savage, Peter Jesson (Cyril Chadwick); while the boy manages to escape, David is killed. Years later, the adult Davy Brandon (George O’Brien) still believes in his father’s dream of a transcontinental railroad, and legislation signed by President Abraham Lincoln has made it an official mandate. Davy is hired on as a railroad surveyor by Thomas Marsh (Will R. Walling), the father of his childhood sweetheart Miriam (Madge Bellamy). While Davy hopes to win Miriam’s heart as he helps to find the trail that led to his father’s death years ago, he’s disappointed to discover that Miriam is already married — and shocked to discover her husband is Peter Jesson, now working with the railroad as a civil engineer. As the Union Pacific crew presses on to their historic meeting at Promitory Point, Davy must find a way to earn Miriam’s love and uncover Peter’s murderous past. Continue reading

Alfred Hitchcock – Blackmail (talkie version) (1929)

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Alice White is the daughter of a shopkeeper in 1920’s London. Her boyfriend, Frank Webber is a Scotland Yard detective who seems more interested in police work than in her. Frank takes Alice out one night, but she has secretly arranged to meet another man. Later that night Alice agrees to go back to his flat to see his studio. The man has other ideas and as he tries to rape Alice, she defends herself and kills him with a bread knife. When the body is discovered, Frank is assigned to the case, he quickly determines that Alice is the killer, but so has someone else and blackmail is threatened. Continue reading

Alexandre Volkoff – Kean (141-minute version) (1924)

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Quote:
This is a biopic of the 19th Century actor, Edmund Kean.

You may remember him for his famous last words: “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.”

Made some 90 years after his death, the film tells of the greatest actor of his time, a man toasted as the greatest actor of all time.

Great though he may have been on the stage, his personal life was a wreck.

He was hounded by creditors, had a problem with alcohol, and to make matters worse, had fallen in love with the wife of an ambassador.

Troubled by the fact that he loves, and is loved, by someone he cannot have, he drowns his troubles in drink, seeming to have a grand time dancing till all hours of the night while really in terrible pain. Continue reading