Monday, March 26, 2012

Side Show (1931)

Side Show feels familiar, and it should -- it borrows a lot of plot elements from The Barker (which would have its own reincarnation two years later as Hoop-La).  Winnie Lightner plays the lead in a story of two sisters loving the same man, with circus life the backdrop.  While the film comes off as sordid and tiresome in turns, and Lightner is wasted in a dramatic role, she is an absolute gem when she gets to perform.  Boy, can that woman sing!  She's cut from Sophie Tucker cloth, and the result is loud and brash and amazing.  She's also a terrific comedienne, and it's a shame that there isn't better material for her to work with here.

Charles Butterworth does his schtick throughout the entire movie, and I'm curious how 30s audiences took him because he annoyed the living crap out of me.  His non sequiturs were irritating and (at least to me) not funny at all.

Guy Kibbee, as the sideshow owner, spends the entire film inebriated (he could play a great drunk); Evalyn Knapp is earnest and cute as Lightner's little sister; and Donald Cook is appropriately sleazy as the ladies' love interest.

I give this one: 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

7 x 7 Link Award!

The kind and wonderful FlickChick of A Person in the Dark and lovely new friend I Thank You have both graced me with the 7 x 7 Link Award!

 Aw, shucks, guys.  You flatter me.  ;) 

While I don't pass these along -- there are too many terrific blogs for me to pick just seven -- it's great fun to follow the other rules!  So, without further ado:

Tell everyone something that no one else knows about.
I have a lip balm obsession.  I have to have one with me at all times.  Most often its either Burt's Bees or Carmex.  (This has extended into a lipstick obsession, too -- I have a box of 'em!)

Most Beautiful Piece:
I love the poem I wrote for Buster Keaton.  :)

A Title? Damfino

Most Helpful Piece:
Anything that spreads the joy that is Jack is supremely helpful.  ;)

Happy John Barrymore Awareness Day!

Most Popular Piece:
By far, it was when we discussed my dream:

Silent Stanzas: The Book?

Most Controversial Piece:
*laughs*  Probably when I was labeling poor Sue Carol as Clara Bow.

Walking Back (1928)

Most Surprisingly Successful Piece:
When I asked which poetry style I should do for Mabel Normand.  I still can't believe I got answers -- including some of Normand's own poetry.

Opinions, Please!

Most Underrated Piece:
The poem for Rudolph Valentino.  It really affected me -- still does.

The Incentive of Chivalry

Most Pride-Worthy Piece:
Far and away, the poem I wrote for Olive Thomas.  It was a sestina -- a particularly difficult form.

Our Lady of New Amsterdam

And there you have it!  ☺

Whether you've left comments or not, thank you so much for reading and spending a little time with me in my digital hidey-hole.  All of you, ALL of you, inspire me more than you know.

Monday, March 19, 2012

We've Reached 100!

I am so excited -- Flapper Flickers and Silent Stanzas has officially reached 100 FOLLOWERS!

Thank you, everyone, for coming along on this silly, poetic, sometimes erratic, but always interesting ride.
I'm having a blast and hope you are too!  ^_^

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Charlie Chaplin: The Whys of the Wise Little Tramp

FlickChick of the wonderful A Person in the Dark and I are doing a post swap this week!  I've contributed a little article on Theda Bara, that you can read by clicking the above blog link.  She's written an insightful article on Chaplin that you're all going to love -- I know I did!

We did a little test at my office recently and showed several pictures of famous people of the past to those age 40 and younger. The only person recognizable to all was Charlie Chaplin as The Little Tramp, although all admitted they had never seen one of his films. When asked why they knew him, they all said something to the effect of "I don't know why, but I just know who he is."

And so the question of "why?" persists. Why this actor? Why this character? Why does The Little Tramp transcend any one film made by his creator? Why, after almost 100 years after his first film, is he still a recognizable character around the world? Some may say the reason is that this character has been used in advertisements throughout the years, but why is it used? Why does it speak to people who have never seen a Chaplin film?
I'm not sure why, and it might be either an unanswerable question or a question with many answers, but I think it is for the same reasons we ask:

Why does the human heart fall in love?

What is beauty?

Why do we feel the need to protect the innocent and the defenseless?

Chaplin has often been criticized as being too maudlin, too sentimental and too seeking of our sympathies. But, those criticisms come from the hearts of adults. As we age, our biological hearts and arteries become slowed and sometimes blocked by plaque (or whatever slows the flow of blood. I never was good at biology). Our emotional hearts also become hardened and shielded for self-protection as we age. We suppress emotion because it is not cool to cry, not manly to be vulnerable and not grown-up to show a heart overflowing with affection. We carefully construct the roadblocks that cut us off from the shortest path to human understanding. Have you ever seen a child watch Charlie Chaplin? They understand the purity of the emotion because their emotional roadmap has not been corrupted with detours and dead ends. It is Chaplin's genius that The Little Tramp expresses joy, pain, love, loss, hope and despair in its purist form. If you give in, if you let him, he can magically, in the dark, peel away the layers of defenses we have built up over the years of life and take us to our uncorrupted heart.

The silent cinema is a deeply personal experience. It presents a canvas that allows us to emotionally participate in the art form, encouraging us add our own emotional colors and shading to the action on the screen. It was a medium in its infancy, and it is fitting and amazing that this icon of that era still speaks so eloquently to us, we who are all children at heart when the lights go down.