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Desert-Set Adventure Movie Filled with Unsavory Characters Dares to Posit Ancient Philosophical Question

Desert-Set Adventure Movie Filled with Unsavory Characters Dares to Posit Ancient Philosophical Question
Desert Nights with John Gilbert and Mary Nolan: Enjoyable Sahara-set adventure – which happened to be Gilbert's last silent film – dares to ask the age-old philosophical question, “Is there honor among thieves?” John Gilbert late silent adventure 'Desert Nights' asks a question for the ages: Is there honor among thieves? The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer release Desert Nights arrived in theaters at the tail end of the silent era. By 1929, audiences wanted lots of singing and dancing – talkies! And they might have been impatient to hear John Gilbert's speaking voice. I can't tell whether sound would have improved it or not, but Desert Nights has a lot of title cards filled with dialogue. Directed by the prolific William Nigh,[1] the film tells the story of diamond thieves who get stranded in the Sahara and almost die of thirst. (At first, Desert Nights' was appropriately titled Thirst.) Cinematographer James Wong Howe perfectly captures the hot, dry
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Steamboat Bill, Jr review – miraculous physical comedy and stunt work

This rerelease reminds us how staggeringly clever and ambitious Buster Keaton’s Romeo-and-Juliet drama from 1928 actually was

Buster Keaton’s 1928 silent movie Steamboat Bill, Jr, now on rerelease, is most famous for that staggeringly clever and ambitious shot of the house front with the strategically positioned open window collapsing on top of our hero, leaving him unscathed. It is a sublime vision of innocence being protected by comically benign forces – famously pastiched by British artist and Oscar-winning film-maker Steve McQueen in his 1999 video piece Deadpan. Steamboat Bill, Jr is a Romeo-and-Juliet drama and also a gently tender story of a man coming to respect and love his son. Bill Sr (Ernest Torrence) is the captain of a tatty old pleasure boat who hasn’t seen his son since the boy was a baby. He’s hoping for a strapping lad to help out with the business. But Bill Jr (Keaton
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Rare Silent Film Actor Who Had Long Talkie Career Is TCM's Star of the Day

Adolphe Menjou movies today (This article is currently being revised.) Despite countless stories to the contrary, numerous silent film performers managed to survive the coming of sound. Adolphe Menjou, however, is a special case in that he not only remained a leading man in the early sound era, but smoothly made the transition to top supporting player in mid-decade, a position he would continue to hold for the quarter of a century. Menjou is Turner Classic Movies' Star of the Day today, Aug. 3, as part of TCM's "Summer Under the Stars" 2015 series. Right now, TCM is showing William A. Wellman's A Star Is Born, the "original" version of the story about a small-town girl (Janet Gaynor) who becomes a Hollywood star, while her husband (Fredric March) boozes his way into oblivion. In typical Hollywood originality (not that things are any different elsewhere), this 1937 version of the story – produced by
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Oscar-Nominated Film Series: First 'Pirates of the Caribbean' One of Most Enjoyable Summer Blockbusters of Early 21st Century

'Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl': Johnny Depp as Capt. Jack Sparrow. 'Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl' review: Mostly an enjoyable romp (Oscar Movie Series) Pirate movies were a Hollywood staple for about three decades, from the mid-'20s (The Sea Hawk, The Black Pirate) to the mid-to-late '50s (Moonfleet, The Buccaneer), when the genre, by then mostly relegated to B films, began to die down. Sporadic resurrections in the '80s and '90s turned out to be critical and commercial bombs (Pirates, Cutthroat Island), something that didn't bode well for the Walt Disney Company's $140 million-budgeted film "adaptation" of one of their theme-park rides. But Neptune's mood has apparently improved with the arrival of the new century. He smiled – grinned would be a more appropriate word – on the Gore Verbinski-directed Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,
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Sexy Garbo, Wrathful Censors, the End of Stardom, and Brutal Murder: Novarro

Ramon Novarro and Greta Garbo in ‘Mata Hari’: The wrath of the censors (See previous post: "Ramon Novarro in One of the Best Silent Movies.") George Fitzmaurice’s romantic spy melodrama Mata Hari (1931) was well received by critics and enthusiastically embraced by moviegoers. The Greta Garbo / Ramon Novarro combo — the first time Novarro took second billing since becoming a star — turned Mata Hari into a major worldwide blockbuster, with $2.22 million in worldwide rentals. The film became Garbo’s biggest international success to date, and Novarro’s highest-grossing picture after Ben-Hur. (Photo: Ramon Novarro and Greta Garbo in Mata Hari.) Among MGM’s 1932 releases — Mata Hari opened on December 31, 1931 — only W.S. Van Dyke’s Tarzan, the Ape Man, featuring Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan, and Edmund Goulding’s all-star Best Picture Academy Award winner Grand Hotel (also with Garbo, in addition to Joan Crawford, John Barrymore, Wallace Beery, and
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Silent Actor Displays His Vocal Skills on TCM

Ramon Novarro: Silent movie star proves he can talk and sing (See previous post: "Ramon Novarro: Mexican-Born Actor Was First Latin American Hollywood Superstar.") On Ramon Novarro Day, Turner Classic Movies’ first Novarro movie is Rex Ingram’s The Prisoner of Zenda (1922), a stately version of Edward Rose’s play, itself based on Anthony Hope’s 1897 novel: in the Central European kingdom of Ruritania, a traveling Englishman takes the place of the kidnapped local king-to-be-crowned. A pre-Judge Hardy Lewis Stone has the double role, while Novarro plays the scheming Rupert of Hentzau. (Photo: Ramon Novarro ca. 1922.) Despite his stage training, Stone is as interesting to watch as a beach pebble; Novarro, for his part, has a good time hamming it up in his first major break — courtesy of director Rex Ingram, then looking for a replacement for Rudolph Valentino, with whom he’d had a serious falling out
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Andrei Rublev, My Fair Lady, The Lost World Screenings

Andrei Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev Andrei Tarkovsky, Audrey Hepburn, Clara Bow Movies: Packard Campus May 2012 Schedule Friday, April 27 (7:30 p.m.) Solaris (Magna, 1972) An alien intelligence infiltrates a space mission. Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. With Natalya Bondarchuk and Donatas Banionis. Sci-fi psychological drama. Black & White and color, 167 min. In Russian and German with English subtitles. Saturday, April 28 (7:30 p.m.) To Kill A Mockingbird (Universal, 1962) A Southern lawyer defends a black man wrongly accused of rape, and tries to explain the proceedings to his children. Directed by Robert Mulligan. With Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Phillip Alford, Brock Peters and Robert Duvall. Drama. Black & white, 129 min. Selected for the National Film Registry in 1995. Thursday, May 3 (7:30 p.m.) The Little Giant (Warner Bros., 1933) A Chicago beer magnate about to lose his business with the repeal of Prohibition, moves to California and tries to join society's upper crust, but his gangster origins prove tough to shake.
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Clara Bow, Andrei Tarkovsky, Audrey Hepburn Movies

Clara Bow, Mantrap What do Andrei Tarkovsky, Edward G. Robinson, Clara Bow, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Audrey Hepburn have in common? Easy. They'll all be featured in some form or other at the Library of Congress' Packard Campus in Culpeper, Virginia, in May. [Packard Campus screening schedule.] Andrei Tarkovsky will be represented by the classic sci-fier Solaris (1971), billed as the Soviet Union's answer to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, and by the classic period drama Andrei Rublev (1969), a meditation on art, religion, spirituality, and human brutality and stupidity. A technicality: Solaris will actually be screened on April 27. Edward G. Robinson stars in The Little Giant (1933), a pre-Code crime comedy featuring Mary Astor. The (at the time) energetic Roy Del Ruth (The Maltese Falcon, Taxi!, Employees' Entrance) directed. Clara Bow is the star of Mantrap (1926), a fluffy romantic comedy of interest chiefly because of Bow and because neither of her two leading
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Lon Chaney Movie Schedule: The Phantom Of The Opera, Tell It To The Marines, Mr. Wu

Lon Chaney on TCM: He Who Gets Slapped, The Unknown, Mr. Wu Get ready for more extreme perversity in West of Zanzibar (1928), as Chaney abuses both Warner Baxter and Mary Nolan, while the great-looking Mr. Wu (1927) offers Chaney as a Chinese creep about to destroy the life of lovely Renée Adorée — one of the best and prettiest actresses of the 1920s. Adorée — who was just as effective in her few early talkies — died of tuberculosis in 1933. Also worth mentioning, the great John Arnold was Mr. Wu's cinematographer. I'm no fan of Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), or The Phantom of the Opera (1925), but Chaney's work in them — especially in Hunchback — is quite remarkable. I mean, his performances aren't necessarily great, but they're certainly unforgettable. Chaney's leading ladies — all of whom are in love with younger, better-looking men — are Loretta Young (Laugh, Clown, Laugh), Patsy Ruth Miller
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Desert Nights – John Gilbert, Mary Nolan d: William Nigh

Ernest Torrence, John Gilbert, Mary Nolan, Desert Nights Desert Nights (1929) Direction: William Nigh Screenplay: Endre Bohem and Lenore J. Coffee, from a treatment by Willis Goldbeck; titles by Ruth Cummings and Marian Ainslee; story by John Thomas Neville and Dale Van Every Cast: John Gilbert, Mary Nolan, Ernest Torrence Desert Nights arrived in theaters on the coattails of the silent era. By 1929, audiences wanted lots of singing and dancing — talkies! And they might have been impatient to hear John Gilbert's speaking voice. I can't tell whether sound would have improved it or not, but Desert Nights has a lot of title cards filled with dialog. The film tells the story of diamond thieves who get stranded in the African desert and almost die of thirst. Cinematographer James Wong Howe perfectly captures the hot, dry, burning sands of the Sahara — which in reality was likely the Mojave in Hollywood's [...]
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Walter Pidgeon TCM Schedule: Mrs. Miniver, Madame Curie

  Walter Pidgeon on TCM: Forbidden Planet, Executive Suite Schedule (Pt) and synopses from the TCM website: 3:00 Am Sweet Kitty Bellairs (1930) An 18th-century English flirt wins the heart of a notorious highwayman. Cast: Claudia Dell, Ernest Torrence, Walter Pidgeon. Dir: Alfred E. Green. C-63 mins. 4:15 Am Hot Heiress, The (1931) When a society woman falls for a riveter, she tries to pass him off as an architect. Cast: Ben Lyon, Ona Munson, Walter Pidgeon. Dir: Clarence Badger. Bw-79 mins. 5:45 Am Shopworn Angel, The (1938) A showgirl gives up life in the fast lane for a young soldier on his way to fight World War I. Cast: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Walter Pidgeon. Dir: H.C. Potter. Bw-85 mins. 7:15 Am Flight Command (1940) A cocky cadet tries to prove himself during flight training. Cast: Robert Taylor, Ruth Hussey, Walter Pidgeon. Dir: Frank Borzage. Bw-116 mins. 9:15 Am Design For [...]
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"Steamboat Bill Jr." and "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" on DVD

  • IFC
Chaplin may have enjoyed being regarded as the premier film artiste and the silent era's great artist for much of the 20th century, but everyone knows by now that he was a winkingly clever, crass, desperate populist compared to Buster Keaton. Though only moderately successful in his heyday, and ruined with the coming of sound, Keaton has emerged unchallenged as the greatest American filmmaker that the silent era ever produced.

These are old films, but they're Vermeers compared to comedies made half a century or more since, even "Steamboat Bill Jr." (1928), roundly dubbed an okay Keaton, not a peak work, but now restored and released in a lavish set from Kino that begs for reconsideration.

Today, this quaint, precise, epic entertainment, crafted in the strange transitional phase between the silent era and the struggling years of the first talkies, seems like a necessity, a gust of relaxed maturity and reason
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Kino To Release Buster Keaton Classic, Steamboat Bill, Jr., On Blu-ray

Coming hot off of the heels of Janus Films picking up the rights to the Charlie Chaplin catalog, it looks like Kino is set to bring to DVD and Blu-Ray one of Buster Keaton’s, Chaplin’s silent counterpart, most legendary films, Steamboat Bill, Jr. Several months back,

Kino leapt into the world of Blu-ray with the Buster Keaton film, The General.

Kino International released a press release this weekend announcing that the film is set to come to DVD and Blu-Ray, with some really excellent special features. Included in the release will be three different musical backing tracks in the form of two scores (one organ and one piano) as well as a complete score by the Biograph Players, as well as a documentary on the making of the film, a stills gallery, a musical montage of stunts and pratfalls, and two recordings of the folk song, Steamboat Bill.
See full article at CriterionCast »

The Pony Express – Betty Compson, Ricardo Cortez

The Pony Express (1925) Direction: James Cruze Screenplay: Walter Woods; from Woods and Henry James Forman’s story Cast: Betty Compson, Ricardo Cortez, George Bancroft, Ernest Torrence, Wallace Beery, Al Hart The Pony Express is a rousing James Cruze Western depicting the founding of the Pony Express with a backdrop of political ambitions concerning a senator’s plans to get California to secede from the United States so he can build his own empire. A great cast and Cruze’s direction keep this one interesting — even though Ricardo Cortez in a period film seems woefully out of place and pretty Betty Compson’s role is more or less that of an ingenue, merely requiring her to look good while reacting to the things going [...]
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

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