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Frankenstein (1910)

On a chilly Saturday night (25th January) I found myself bored so I decided to watch the 1910 version of Frankenstein which starred Augustus Phillips, Mary Fuller and Charles Stanton Ogle (all who were not billed) and I am very much glad I did watch the film because it was enthralling, I even gasped slightly seeing Frankenstein come out!

I’m a big horror fan so knowing there’s horror silent out there has made me quite happy and watching Frankenstein has only whetted the appetite to watch more!

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Silent Stars Film Pick

Metropolis

I have just been watching one of the greatest silent films ever made. Metropolis got my interest when I spotted it’s use in the Radio GaGa video by Queen so I was intrigued to see what the film was about itself. I found it on a website I use regularly and ordered it.

I was hooked the minute the opening scenes rolled in and I was taken by how good the special effects were. The acting was outstanding from the main stars Brigitte Helm and Gustav Frohlich but the collective acting was phenomenal too. I have to admit, I was expecting so much from this film and it delivered on all fronts.

I highly recommend this film to anyone who’s a keen silent film enthusiast like myself.

The Mark of Zorro (1920)

Douglas Fairbanks has been high on my list to watch more of for a long time so last week I purchased The Mask of Zorro and tonight I watched it and it DID NOT DISAPPOINT! The star-studded cast alongside Douglas all played their part in such a magnificent film.

I have to admit, I was a bit taken by the charm of Zorro and I aren’t surprised that Marguerite De La Motte’s Lolita Pulido was too! He knew what to say and I was getting infuriated with Robert McKim’s Juan Ramon who just wouldn’t leave poor Lolita alone. It felt like a Belle/Gaston situation!

Imagine my joy when I saw Snitz Edwards make a fairly frequent appearance in this film. I actually thought to myself “I KNOW HIM!” Anyway spotting the stars aside, this film’s storyline was very well done and I was so engrossed in it. I’m well aware of Douglas’s athletic ability but my god he was absolutely excellent in the stunt work he did in this film. The storyline speaks truthfully of how the people need to rise up against oppression and stop the people in power taking over. It’s actually extremely relevant to today!

I think my love of Mr Fairbanks has reached a new level, next on my list is Robin Hood and The Thief of Baghdad!

Mabel’s Adventures (1912)

After another period of time of not doing silent film reviews, I have decided to return and give Mabel Normand another chance with another short of hers, Mabel’s Adventures!

I have to admit, it’s my first time watching both Fred Mace and Ford Sterling and they both did a terrific job of carrying this short. I also have to be honest in that I am struggling to find Mabel Normand funny in this short. I will give her another chance but I feel that there’s more to offer from her than I’ve seen in the two shorts so far. Sorry Mabel!

The Man Who Laughs (1928)

Hello everyone, I’m back with a new film review and it’s for a film I’ve been waiting to watch for a long time. So here we are!

The Man Who Laughs is a classic silent film but I had to watch it for myself to determine how good it was and well, I actually cried throughout the film! Both Conrad Veidt’s Gwynplaine and Mary Philbin’s Dea had me blubbing! (blubbing = crying)

It was lovely to see Olga Baclanova and Stuart Holmes play a prominent role in the film but my god Olga’s character Duchess Josiana really riled me! I felt very sorry for Lord Dirry-Moir (Stuart Holmes) which surprised me cos he was acting quite pompous!

I love the fact that the dog played such a heroic role in the film and obviously was loyal to Dea AND Gwynplaine. I do love to see a dog acting superbly!

I’m rating this film very highly in the top five favourite silent films, second in fact! Conrad Veidt has completely stolen my heart and knocked Metropolis down into third as his other film (The Cabinet of Dr Caligari has now taken top place!)

I recommend this film to anyone, please do get a box of tissues ready though!

The Danger Girl (1916)

I have been meaning to watch Gloria Swanson’s silent works for a while now and I came across The Danger Girl on YouTube and thought why not start with this one? And so I did and I wasn’t disappointed!

Gloria’s character (The Danger Girl/Reggie’s madcap sister) will do anything to keep a “dangerous” vamp (Helen Bray) away from her love, Bobbie (Bobby Vernon) and so she disguises herself as a man to stop that from happening. The plot itself is a bit untidy but I personally loved it just for the calamity that was unfolding!

The stand out in this short for me was Gloria Swanson willing to defy gender norms and dress as a man and at the beginning you can see her trying to fix her car when it breaks down, which was obviously unheard of for women in those times.

As an LGBTQ+ person, this was really, really great to see. The fact it was made in 1916 makes it all the remarkable for me. I love this and I am so happy I’ve watched it now.

Gloria Swanson with Helen Bray and Bobby Vernon

Cinderella (1911)

Unfortunately I have been out of action for a little while for numerous reasons, and the latest one being that I have COVID-19.

However to pass the time I have in isolation, I decided to review another silent film, namely Cinderella! The lead role is played by the one and only Florence La Badie and she played Cinderella excellently.

The plot sticks fairly closely to the original tale which has been adapted numerous times and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have to say I found myself smiling smugly at the stepsisters’ awful attire at the ball, they were absolutely atrocious! But Cinderella’s was beautiful!

This is a great watch if you want to discover Florence La Badie’s work for the first time like I did. I am sure to watch more of her films.

Should Tall Men Marry? (1928)

I wanted to check out Stan Laurel’s solo work prior to becoming one half of the legendary Laurel and Hardy act so I chose the final solo film he did.

In a star-studded line up featuring Laurel, Martha Sleeper, James Finlayson and Stuart Holmes, I found myself crying with laughter when Laurel’s character Texas Tommy was caught kissing a calf by Finlayson’s Joe Skittle. Skittle was then chased by a mule which set me off even more!

Holmes’ character Snake-tail Sharkey really comes across as a vain, arrogant man who reckons he can marry Martha Sleeper’s Martha Skittle but she is utterly repulsed by him. I don’t blame her!

Texas Tommy continues to bring the laughs, especially when on horseback! I’m just so glad that Sharkey gets his comeuppance cos he was a real pest!

I absolutely love this film and Laurel and Finlayson made me cry with laughter! Bravo men!

A Train of Incidents (1914)

Another newcomer to my ever growing film reviews is one that stars the rarely spoken about John Bunny who was a coveted silent film star in his day. This short also stars Flora Finch and Charles Bryant and whilst they both excel in their roles, it’s definitely John Bunny and his character (Bunny) who steals the show with his comedic timing, especially when he takes too long picking a flower for Flora’s character (Miss Prim) and their train sets off without them but thankfully goes back to pick them up!

I really enjoyed this short and it’s so sad that John is not spoken about more because he really was excellent in this film. I will endeavour to watch more of his work if it is available.

The Astronomer’s Dream (1898)

As a fan of Georges Melies, I wanted to watch another of his silent shorts so I came across The Astronomer’s Dream which starred Melies himself and his future wife Jehanne D’Alcy.

I was again pleasantly surprised by the visual effects of the short and though the storyline is a little up and down, I still found this short really good overall.

I’m really in awe of how fantastic the effects were to say this was released in 1898. This is a credit to Melies who I really do think is one of the greatest pioneers of early silent film and cinema.

Run, Girl, Run (1928)

Another day, another film review and what better way to open my Carole Lombard film account than with a silent short starring herself, Daphne Pollard and Lionel Belmore!

From the very off, you can see that Daphne’s character (Coach Minnie Marmon) is just hilarious, constantly falling over and failing to get her team to concentrate, especially Carole’s character (Norma Nurmi) who just wants to spend time with her love. The results are brilliant and I genuinely laughed at the calamity unfolding.

I need to watch more of Carole’s work and Daphne’s too cos both were stars of the show. I really rate this short and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to watch Carole for the first time.

Smashing Barriers (1919)

Having rediscovered my enthusiasm for watching silent films and then reviewing them, I decided to give Smashing Barriers a watch and see how it fared. It has been condensed into a 6 reel feature as it was originally a 15 part serial but it’s now lost.

William Duncan and Edith Johnson both play their part in a rather enthralling and stunt-filled piece and I have to admit, I’m really impressed with the way the short carried itself along, even if for only under 10 minutes. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it, especially the part where William and Edith managed to escape from the barn as it was being pulled down.

I will definitely recommend this but please do note it is not a complete film. Also fun fact, William and Edith were a real life couple and were married!