? – 1925 Studio Tour (1925)

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Untitled and without any crew credits, this 32-minute silent documentary takes you on a tour of MGM in 1925, meeting the people who create the movies, and watching some of them do it. I found it fascinating, especially when some of the moviemakers were identified by the inter-titles. It was nice to be able finally to attach a face to some familiar names such as writers Agnes Christine Johnston, Jane Murfin, Waldemar Young and others who are identified and shown in closeups. I noted that Howard Hawks was included as a writer – he didn’t start directing until later. Less interesting were the showing of groups of unidentified crew members: about 50 cameramen lined up in a row, each hand cranking their cameras, seemed to serve no useful purpose. Unlike the writers, who were identified individually, the directors were all identified first in an inter-title, and the camera then panned across them standing in a row, but you could not tell which name belonged to which director. I did recognize Erich von Stroheim, but only because he was also a famous actor. When the actors and actresses were introduced as a group by inter-titles, it was much more fun, because identifying them became a game. I also saw three unlisted actors: Ford Sterling, William Haines and Sojin, and there are probably others. Continue reading

Christy Cabanne – Reggie Mixes In (1916)

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Very early, rare Doug Fairbanks.

Douglas Fairbanks and Bessie Love, 28 January 2008

Author: drednm
Douglas Fairbanks started his film career in breezy little comedies that stressed his athleticism. REGGIE MIXES IN in a good example. Here he plays Reggie, a rich young man (he was 33) who oddly gets involved as a bouncer in a beer hall, a gang of thugs, and a love woman (Bessie Love). No much sense to the plot, rather a string of events loosely tied together and all aimed for Reggie to win the girl.

Fairbanks started in films in 1915 and right from the start, refused to play love scenes. So even in this 1916 film, Fairbanks and Love clutch but never kiss. He has a few terrific stunts, however, that keep this film surprising and brisk (at 47 minutes). Co-stars include Alma Rubens (hysterically named Lemona), Joseph Singleton (as the butler Old Pickleface), Lillian Langdon (as the aunt), and Frank Bennett (as Sammy the thug).

Reggie is the perfect character for Fairbanks in these early films because they allow him to polish his acting skills and presage his astonishing career as the swashbuckling superstar of the 20s, a career that combined his great athletic skills with a great sense of fun. Continue reading

Louis Delluc – L’inondation (1924)

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Synopsis :
Dans un village paisible en bord du Rhône, Alban, jeune et honnête fermier, s’apprête à épouser la coquette et frivole Margot. Monsieur Broc, employé de mairie solitaire, retrouve sa fille adorée Germaine, devenue une charmante jeune femme. Germaine s’est éprise d’Alban. Lorsque celui-ci l’éconduit gentiment, elle s’effondre, fiévreuse, au grand désarroi de son père. La crue du fleuve inonde subitement le village et les alentours. Margot déclenche la colère d’Alban en fricotant avec son cousin Jean. Un soir elle disparaît. On la retrouve mystérieusement noyée. Continue reading

Wim Wenders – Die Gebrüder Skladanowsky AKA A Trick of the Light (1995)

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Quote:
“A Trick of Light” is a silly yet sporadically entertaining pseudo-documentary in which filmmaker Wim Wenders, along with the help of several film school students, tells the story of the Skladanowsky brothers – Max, Eugen, and Emil. In the late 1800s, the trio invented a method for projecting moving images which they called a Bioscope; unfortunately for the siblings, Auguste and Louis Lumière also emerged at around the same time with a similar – yet vastly superior – device called the Cinematographe. Wenders alternates between re-enacted footage of the brothers’ misadventures and an interview with Max’s 91-year-old daughter, with the former shot entirely on a vintage, hand-cranked camera (lending such sequences the feel of an authentic silent movie). It’s all very cute and watchable, though one can’t help but lament Wenders’ ill-advised decision to weave fictional elements into the interview footage (ie Max’s elderly daughter is interesting enough to ensure that such shenanigans ultimately come off as distracting and superfluous). Add to that the utterly interminable end credits (which go on for 20 minutes!), and you’ve got a film that’s admittedly not as bad as some of Wenders other efforts but disappointing nevertheless. Continue reading

Louis Delluc – Fièvre (1921)

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Synopsis:
Louis Delluc was one of the most important silent pioneers in France and probably one of the first persons in that country who thought of the cinema as an Art. He was part of group called the “French Impressionist School” ( which also included Epstein, Abel Gance, Marcel L’Herbier and Germaine Dulac ) and was himself one of the first and most influential French film critics. Unfortunately Louis Delluc had a short career dying very young at the age of 33 from tuberculosis, denying the French and the rest of the whole world, his mastery of film and future accomplishments. Continue reading

Louis Delluc – La femme de nulle part [full version 68 min] (1922)

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Synopsis:
“Like his fiery study of a popular milieu in Fièvre, Louis Delluc’s early masterpiece of impressionist cinema, La Femme de Nulle Part, is almost impossible to see outside of rare archival projections in Paris. Shot in natural settings, and stripped of all that is not cinema, Delluc’s psychological drama featuring symbolist muse Eve Francis is an experiment in ‘direct style.’ A fascinating study in the relationship between past and present, memory, dream and reality, this revolutionary film would be a source of inspiration for successive filmmakers, from Francois Truffaut to Alain Resnais.” (NeilMac1971) Continue reading

René Coiffard & Louis Delluc – Le chemin d’Ernoa (1921)

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French informations :

Etchégor, un riche paysan basque est épris de la belle américaine Majesty Parnell. L’époux de celle-ci, sur le point d’être arrêté pour vol, cherche à se forger un alibi.

Mobilisé, Louis Delluc est contraint de renoncer à la mise en scène de son premier scénario, La Fête espagnole (1919), qu’il confie à Germaine Dulac. Impatient de réaliser ses propres films, il fonde sa société de production Parisia- Films au printemps 1920, et livre, en l’espace de quelques mois trois films : Fumée noire, Le Silence et L’Américain, qui deviendra Le Chemin d’Ernoa. Continue reading