City Lights (1931)
starring Charlie Chaplin and Virginia Cherrill
I'm not a huge Chaplin fan, but this was just gorgeous -- no one does sad / pitiful better than him. A beautiful story with an iconic end shot; everyone should see this.
Gambling Lady (1934)
starring Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea
Solid little soaper with good performances from all. Barbara Stanwyck is always fantastic.
The costumes by Orry-Kelly are both impressive and bizarre; I love the scenes where Claire Dodd and Stanwyck are standing there, being bitchy to each other, in fabulous gowns.
starring Mary Pickford and Leslie Howard
I LOVE THIS MOVIE. Mary Pickford (in her last film) is MUCH better in this than Coquette, and she has terrific chemistry with Leslie Howard, who is very charming and looks younger than I ever thought possible (in the first half of the film anyway). Borzage's direction is masterful, and Pickford somehow manages to still look like a luminous girl.
• changing scene = LMAO
• Leslie Howard makes a surprisingly sexy cowboy
This movie takes a complete and utter turn, and while I don't want to give it away, you will feel as riveted through the end as you do in the beginning. Both Howard and Pickford emote like crazy and it is anything but treacly.
Son of the Sheik (1926)
starring Rudolph Valentino and Vilma Banky
Valentino's final film is a fun one! He does an admirable job with the dual role, playing himself and his own father (The Sheik from the 1921 film of the same name). He does an impressive amount of his own stuntwork while still pleasing all the ladies with his romantic overtures to Banky, who is lovely but otherwise unremarkable. Karl Dane as Ramadan is a fun bit of comic relief. I really enjoyed the big Fairbanks-style fight scene at the end and think Rudy would've done well in action films.
• The split screen work was very smart for 1926! Dad Rudy putting his arm around Son Rudy -- an obvious splice but still well done.
Five Star Final (1931)
starring Edward G Robinson and Aline MacMahon
Another great early talkie; feels like one of Warner Bros. hard-boiled stories. It's hard to pick one person out for their performance -- the entire cast is excellent: Edward G Robinson plays his character perfectly; tough, hard-to-crack, but eventually with that heart of gold within. Aline MacMahon is perfectly disillusioned and brittle. H B Warner is absolutely heartbreaking, and to tell you more would be to give away the plot, but he will stay with you even after the movie is over. Boris Karloff has a small but pivotal role suited to his ability with creepiness.
• I have a crush on Polly Walters (the telephone operator). LOL See how many pre-Codes she turns up in!
and last but not least...
The Wild Party (1929)
starring Clara Bow and Fredric March
Now I'm sure you all think that I liked this so much purely because of Clara. Well, you're right. She never looked better -- all the little improv things she lends to a picture are at their more apparent (and adorable)! But that's not the only reason I liked it; for an early talkie, it is actually quite good...an entertaining plot with nice flow and movement, equal to late silents.
Fredric March plays his role well but seriously, making Clara and her merry band of college co-eds seem even more playful! They are a cute little bunch and their silliness will have you giggling, I promise!
• Look for the scene where March tells Bow to "shh" -- he sticks his finger in her mouth by accident, and Clara stifles a laugh. Only one of many unscripted moments that brighten the film.
Whew! That was a lot of movies, but thanks to the generosity of my friends (blows kisses) and my rickety VCR actually taping (gasp!), there will be lots more coming soon!