Alfred Hitchcock – The Pleasure Garden [+Extras] (1925)

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The Pleasure Garden is the first film that Alfred Hitchcock directed to completion. It’s a nice look into the earliest directorial thoughts and techniques of the master. Even in this earliest film, we can see signs of what would become some of his signature trademarks. I enjoyed some of the point of view shots early in the film with the blurred view of the man looking through his monocle as well as the gentleman looking through the binoculars at the show girls legs. There is also a spiral staircase in the opening of this movie. Not that it was used like the staircase in Vertigo, but it made me smile thinking of how important that would be in his later film. The story deals with the idea of infidelity. Jill (Carmelita Geraghty) is an aspiring dancer who gets engaged to Hugh (John Stuart) who has to leave for work overseas. Patsy (Virginia Valli), who has helped Jill get her start, starts to worry about Jill keeping her promise to wait for Hugh. Jill’s career is taking off and she begins to fool around with other guys. Patsy marries Levett (Miles Mander), Hugh’s friend who also goes overseas to work with Hugh. Unlike Jill, Patsy remains true to her husband, thinking only of being with him. She receives a letter that her husband has taken ill and scrapes up the money to go be with her husband in his time of need. When she arrives, she finds that he has taken to drinking and island women. That’s when the trouble ensues. I enjoyed Hitch’s first film. It’s a little slow starting, but picks up pace as it goes along. I liked seeing Cuddles, the dog, thrown in for a little comic relief to contrast the seriousness of the film, which of course is another of Hitchcock’s trademarks. There was also a nice, subtle score by Lee Erwin, that fit the film well. Continue reading Alfred Hitchcock – The Pleasure Garden [+Extras] (1925)

A.E. Coleby – Mysteries of London (1915)

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After her father is falsely jailed for embezzlement and her mother dies of grief, Louise is adopted by a kindly stockbroker. 15 years later, she falls in love with his dissolute son Frank, a mistake that nearly proves fatal to her. The film’s main historical point of interest, though, lies in the still highly recognisable central London locations – but Dutch intertitles and copious print damage suggest that we’re lucky that this lively three-part melodrama survives at all.

Active in films from 1907, and making features as early as 1912, London-born AE Coleby (1876-1930) was a prolific silent-era director. Specialising in thrillers and melodramas, he was among the first to tackle such horror staples as Egyptian curses (The Mummy, 1912) and the perennial Chinese villain Fu Manchu (The Mystery of Fu Manchu, 1923). In the 1920s, he returned to making mainly short films, including a couple of early sync-sound experiments, but he died shortly after Britain’s talkie era began in earnest. Sadly, as with many silent filmmakers, most of his output no longer survives. Continue reading A.E. Coleby – Mysteries of London (1915)

Alfred Hitchcock – The Ring (1927)

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A 1927 British silent sports film directed and written by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Carl Brisson, Lillian Hall-Davis and Ian Hunter. It is one of Hitchcock’s nine surviving silent films. The Ring is Hitchcock’s only original screenplay although he worked extensively alongside other writers throughout his career. Continue reading Alfred Hitchcock – The Ring (1927)

Yasujirô Ozu – Tokkan kozô AKA A Straightforward Boy (1929)

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Strictly Film School wrote:
A purely fun, entertaining, and lighthearted short film, A Straightforward Boy follows the (mis) adventures of a kidnapper (Tatsuo Saito) who, on an idyllic, sunny day (that, as the film comments, is conducive for such nefarious activities), lures a cherubic, bespectacled boy (Tomio Aoki) with toys and treats back into the hideout. However, when the mischievous and precocious boy becomes too much of a handful, the kidnapper’s attempts to get rid of him proves to be a greater challenge than the abduction itself. Continue reading Yasujirô Ozu – Tokkan kozô AKA A Straightforward Boy (1929)

Ernst Lubitsch – Ich möchte kein Mann sein AKA I Don’t Want to Be a Man (1918)

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A teenaged tomboy, tired of being bossed around by her strict guardian, impersonates a man so she can have more fun, but discovers that being the opposite sex isn’t as easy as she had hoped.

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I Don’t Want To Be A Man is like The Oyster Princess an early example of Ernst Lubitsch’s comic skills, and it also shares The Oyster Princess’ star, the irrepressible comedienne Ossi Oswalda, who in both films lends her name to the characters she plays. Here she plays a wild, rambunctious late teen barely under the control of her guardian/uncle and governess. (In reality it takes a while to work out that this middle-aged couple glaring disapprovingly out the window at Ossi’s mild antics outside are not her parents; they seemed rather coded as such.) Continue reading Ernst Lubitsch – Ich möchte kein Mann sein AKA I Don’t Want to Be a Man (1918)

Sergei M. Eisenstein – Bronenosets Potyomkin aka The battleship Potemkin (1925)

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Marie Seton wrote:
When he made Potemkin in 1925, Sergei Eisenstein was not only a man with his total personality dedicated to creative work — albeit a creative work aimed at destroying all orthodox concepts of ‘art’ — but he was also a revolutionary fighter, a propagandist for the Russian Revolution. Thus, his work had a utilitarian purpose as well as an artistic one. He was educator and artist. At its most obvious level, Potemkin was regarded as propaganda for the Revolution; at a deeper level it was a highly complex work of art which Eisenstein thought would affect every man who beheld it, from the humblest to the most learned. Continue reading Sergei M. Eisenstein – Bronenosets Potyomkin aka The battleship Potemkin (1925)