Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Belated Holiday Wishes

Colleen is ready for the weather.

It hit me on Christmas Night that I'd neglected to wish all my readers a very happy holiday!   My apologies and I hope you had a lovely one!

Did any of you get socked by the blizzard?  We're still trying to dig out the house!

Belated Holiday Wishes

Colleen is ready for the weather.

It hit me on Christmas Night that I'd neglected to wish all my readers a very happy holiday!   My apologies and I hope you had a lovely one!

Did any of you get socked by the blizzard?  We're still trying to dig out the house!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My labor of love gets a mention!

Silent Stanzas, the silent film poetry blog I write, has gotten a mention from both the Louise Brooks Society (wow!) and The Kid in the Front Row

You can read the posts here:

Louise Brooks Society - http://louisebrookssociety.blogspot.com/2010/12/stanzas-about-louise-brooks.html

The Kid in the Front Row - http://www.kidinthefrontrow.com/2010/12/jingle-blogs.html

Another blog mention!

Bebe and her mother catch up on the latest film blogs.

Both Silent Stanzas and Chris Edwards' wonderful blog Silent Volume get a shout-out in this post from The Kid in the Front Row.  Lots of other great blogs to check out as well!

Read it here:


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Silent Stanzas on the LBS!

Thomas Gladysz of the Louise Brooks Society has posted an entry about poetry and film, and highlighted Silent Stanzas - in particular, "Scrubbie's Sonnet".  Click here to read!

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Man Who Had Everything

The boy next door, the bon vivant,
the off-screen lush, the dilettante,
the king of self-defeating hype,
celebutantic prototype.
The Pickford name would serve him well
(though through him, tarnished straight to hell);
talent was but secondary
to his lifestyle legendary!
A candle burning at both ends?
Jack's fuse flashed strong and bright -
mercurial in many ways,
he could not last the night.

Jack Pickford

Friday, December 3, 2010


He looked at the chart
and his heart jumped a bit --
the spectre of Time
never failed with His wit.

He pulled back the sheet;
in the space of a breath
they were both young and beautiful,
laughing at death.

Forging a path
through bigotry's weeds,
talent their ticket,
charisma their creed;

But decades march on
and paths change and falter.
Former successes
are laid at Fate's altar,

Until reunited
in irony's glow --
"The Black Valentino",
"The Brown Clara Bow".

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

One Week (1920)

(Where's Bob Vila when you need him?)

You all know how fond I am of Buster Keaton, so I'll do my best to be objective. 

Yeah, right.  ;)

This was a clever, adorable, and thoroughly enjoyable short film - Keaton's first to be released without Roscoe Arbuckle.  In it, he plays a newlywed trying to set up house (and failing miserably).  He's supported by Sybil Seely as his new bride.  Seely does a fine job with Buster, keeping up with the fast-paced gags (even the scary ones!) and even injecting her own vivacity into the story.  Not an easy feat when you're opposite a genius (and a house that's trying to kill you!).  She's quite pretty, too;  I suspect quite a few men in the audience got a thrill out of the bath scene.  Oh, and the stunts!  The stunts alone are nothing short of amazing!

One would be hard-pressed to give much of Keaton's work a bad review...but this short, especially, is a lot of fun and highly recommended. 
I give this one:   

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A little different this week.

This week was to be for Florence Lawrence, and so it still is...but when I sat down to write a poem, I wrote a song instead.  I'm still working on the music for it, but here are the lyrics.  ^_^

you can see her in the chair

on a monday in the afternoon
waiting for the call

will they need somebody's mother?
or merely some atmosphere
or nothing now at all

that streetcar seems so long ago
her making and her breaking
her start and yet her fall

 her name means flowers
and if you talk to her
they bloom as bright as yesterday
when all the world was wanting her
her name means flowers
and if you look at her
her face is still a bright bouquet
but lately things are haunting her

Wasn't so long ago
the crowds would run to get a seat
and watch her on the screen

She was a mystery
who was that gorgeous creature up there
stealing every scene

And then a whirlwind made her known
They said her name, they brought her fame
the hollywood machine



Time ticks on
And after they dispose of you
There's no one left that knows of you
Your head's held high
but in your eyes are words unspoken
you're tired and your heart is broken

this monday florence wasn't there
her legacy an empty chair

Florence Lawrence, the First Movie Star

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Oh the humanity!

I had a plan.

I was going to watch M last night, and review it for you bright and lovely folks.

My rickety old VCR had other ideas.

Ones involving wavy lines.  Lots and lots of wavy lines.  And snow.

More reviews coming as soon as I get my fist out of the videotape slot.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Daughter of the perilous,
was anything you told us true?
Did it matter in the end?
We still fell in love
with the person you showed us,
a fearless ball of fire
glowing like your namesake.
Grit's all you need
when the world is your oyster.

Pearl White

Friday, October 29, 2010

It's eerie, dearie...

When the ghosts and goblins hover
and there's monsters on the scene,
you know what day is coming -
that's right! It's Claraween!

Have a scary good holiday, folks!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Man Who Laughs (1928)

He's such a joker.*

I had the great fortune to catch this on the big screen, with the wonderful Ben Model accompanying on the Mighty Miditzer.  Before I even get into the film I have to give Ben accolades - he never fails to give his all and treat us to a masterful performance.  Well done!

Now, onto the picture...

Conrad Veidt is Gwynplaine, the son of a disgraced nobleman disfigured by decree of King James II in retribution.  After his father's death, Gwynplaine is abandoned, doomed to wander the snowbound countryside...until he finds an infant nestled in her dead mother's arms.  Gwynplaine takes the child and eventually finds the home of Ursus, who takes both of them in and discovers the infant is blind.

Years pass and both Gwynplaine and Dea (the blind infant, now played by Mary Philbin) are now part of a traveling showm run by Ursus, centering around Gwynplaine's horrific visage.  This upsets him afresh every night, because he is in love with the beautiful and kind Dea, but will not marry her, refusing to burden her with his horror.    One day they play at a fair near the Royal Court, and the Queen's jester discovers that The Man Who Laughs is actually the son of a nobleman.  Only problem is, his rightful inheritance is now owned by Duchess Josiana (an almost unrecognizable Olga Baclanova).  Queen Anne decides Gwynplaine must marry the Duchess in order to restore things to propriety.

Does Gwynplaine actually marry the Duchess, a highly sensual woman simultaneously aroused and digusted by his face?  Does he stay with the angelic Dea, who loves him regardless of his appearance?  Or does something else happen entirely?  You'll have to watch the film and see. 

Veidt is heartbreaking as The Man Who Laughs, managing to move the audience with a variety of emotions - all while his face is contorted into a perpetual smile.  His anguish is palpable and at times it is difficult to look into his eyes (shades of Chaney, who was unable to star due to contractual obligations).  Philbin has one or two instances where she does a fine job, particularly when in pain over Gwynplaine, but otherwise spends most of the role looking lovely (and rather like Mary Pickford, in my opinion).  The picture itself was stretched a little long in spots - I felt that most of the action at court could've been condensed without affecting the story or it's outcome.  Otherwise, a very good film.  And three cheers for Homo the Wolf! 

I give this one: 

*"The Man Who Laughs" was indeed noted as one of the inspirations for The Joker.  You can read an interesting blog entry about it here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On a Side Street

"I was not Mr Mary Pickford,"

he said, head slightly down,
fingers tracing the moisture on
the whiskey glass.

It was his third.

"I came here with Matt and Tom and Joe
to find a better life,
and I made a name for myself.

My own good name, too;
not some phony moving picture name
like Gladys had."

He paused, eyes clouded over with memory.

"Joe, God rest his soul."

He slapped a few bills on the counter and
slid off the stool,
walking out into oblivion,
the nitrate dust of almost three hundred films
beneath his heels.

Katherine would be waiting.

Owen Moore

Monday, October 4, 2010

False Starts and Funnymen

Wake up, Buster!  Today's your birthday! 

I had intended to do a review of Jack's Make Way for a Sailor, but I got about three minutes into it and had to switch it off.  I remain valiant, however, and will try again, have no fear!

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Pillar of Society

An elegant person,
a renaissance man.
He held the whole world
in the palm of his hand.

He excelled without question
at all that he tried,
sports, music, acting -
all brought him great pride.

Griffith and "Nation"
secured his career.
The role of a lifetime
made everything clear:

That his was a talent
sharp as a knife.
He kept his gift honed
'til the end of his life.

Of equals to Henry,
there really were none.
Well done, Little Colonel!
Well done!  Well done!

Henry B Walthall

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gilbert-O-Rama #4: Flesh and the Devil (1926)

Ulrich von Eltz (Lars Hanson) and Leo von Harden (John Gilbert) are lifelong best friends serving in the army together.  At the station during leave, Leo sees Felicitas (Greta Garbo), and it's love at first sight.  Unfortunately, her husband discovers their budding romance, and after Leo kills Felicitas' husband in the resulting duel, he is sent away to Africa for five years.  He asks Ulrich to please watch over her while he's away (you see where this is heading).  Without giving away the rest of the plot, suffice it to say their friendship is torn apart...but something towards the end of the film changes everything. 
You have to see this film.   Yes, it has a good story, and the entire cast does a fantastic job (including Barbara Kent as Hertha, Ulrich's little sister who is hopelessly in love with Leo), but the main reason to watch it?  Jack and Garbo.  Both are absolutely gorgeous in this film, and when in each others' embrace...WOW.  I always doubted it before, but now, after seeing it for myself...you can see the explosive chemistry between them.  Especially Jack - he looks positively bewitched by Garbo.  They were NOT acting.  Jesus, that scene in the garden with the cigarette was one of the sexiest things I've ever seen in my life.
I give this one: 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hoop-La (1933)

The plot is simple:  Lou (Clara Bow) is a cooch dancer who takes a bet: if she get the barker's naive and innocent son Chris (Richard Cromwell) to fall in love with her, she'll earn $100 from Carrie (Minna Gombel), a fellow performer furious at the barker (Preston Foster) for choosing said son's welfare over their relationship.  Along the way, Lou finds herself actually falling in love with Chris, and must deal with the resulting fury from his father, but she eventually proves herself worthy of his son's love.  (An interesting aside:  this is a remake of 1928's The Barker, which earned Betty Compson an Oscar nomination.)

A predictable yet fun film, with affable characters (if not a little one-dimensional - Cromwell gives off the impression that he had a head injury as a kid); but its highlight was the new, hard-boiled Clara.  I could see her fitting in beautifully with the fast-paced gangster films of the 1930s.  Closeups reveal her to be as lovely as ever, and that she still had the vivacious charm and heart-stopping gaze that made her such a success in silents.   The extra half in my review is purely for her performance.

I give this one: 

I must thank the generous Bill Cramer of The Clara Bow Page for providing me with a copy of this picture.  If you click the link, you can read his reviews of both "Hoop-La" and "Call Her Savage".

Gilbert-O-Rama #3: Gentleman's Fate (1931)

An MGM film that almost feels like a Poverty Row production, spare and dingy.  Jack plays Jack Thomas, a man seemingly on top of the world - he has money, he has a lovely fiancee (Leila Hyams) - until one day he receives word that his father (he thought himself an orphan) is dying and wants to see him.  Dad reveals on his deathbed that Jack is really Giacomo Tomasulo, part of a bootlegging family, and his brother Frank (a very good performance by Louis Wolheim, who sadly died before the film's release) wants him in the business.   There is genuine pathos as Jack fights with the two selves he's forced to become - ironically, Gilbert's best scenes are the ones in which his character is intoxicated.  Good acting all around, with a slight but pleasant performance by Anita Page (as the girlfriend of a key character) and some comic relief from the always adorable Marie Prevost (I wish they didn't make her eat all the time, though).  It's one of Jack's lesser shown pictures, and at times it's a jumbled mess, but one that deserves more attention - for his emotional performance.

I give this one: 

Note:  You can find another great review of this film at Jenny the Nipper's terrific blog Cinema OCD.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Gilbert-O-Rama #2: He Who Gets Slapped (1924)

"What is Death? What is Life? What is Love?"

I can't remember who said (if it was you, please tell me!) that Victor Sjöström was the forerunner to Ingmar Bergman, but boy were they spot on.  This is a surreal, sadistic, dreamlike film about Paul Beaumont (Lon Chaney), an inventor who is wronged by both his mentor and wife, and becomes a clown to wallow in his cynicism and torture - "HE", who relives his betrayal and is slapped every night.  There is only one bright spot in his new life:  Consuelo (Norma Shearer), the beautiful new bareback rider, who unbeknownst to her is being sold by her horrendous father to the highest bidder (a man with whom "HE" is quite familiar).  Bezano (Jack Gilbert) is the daredevil rider and the man Consuelo falls in love with, and with whom, after much sorrow, "HE" is dead set on saving Consuelo from a cruel fate.

Lon Chaney is one of my favorite actors, and becomes more wonderful with each film.  Even though this could easily become a syrupy melodrama, he makes it work with heartbreaking intensity.  You can feel the knife's edge he walks on, between madness and pain.  The scenes with Shearer are particularly touching, with Chaney doing what he does best - loving from afar.  Other scenes are nightmarish, with deliberate overcranking enhancing the terror; you are trapped in the automaton of Beaumont's broken dreams.  An absolutely fantastic and highly recommended film.

I give this one: