Monday, December 31, 2012

Best of 2012

Doug and Mary celebrate
    Today is New Year's Eve, a time of celebration for a new year, but also a celebration of what happened in the past year, so in honor of 2012 I made a list of movies I watched and books I read for the first time that I got the most enjoyment out of.  This year I watched a lot of silent movies and really started loving them.  Last year I watched a few, but this year I realized how awesome they are.


Clara Bow and Antonio Moreno
It (1927):  Clara Bow is awesome.  I first saw this movie back around February or so and have probably seen it five times.  I even wrote a paper on the movie for my film class (I got an A-).  I love Clara Bow's expressions.  For example how mad she gets when her friend tells her about the social workers.  I also love her expressions as she gets ready for the night at the Ritz but doesn't have a thing to wear.  Bonus: the immortal line, "Just you wait, I'll take the snap out of your garters yet" is in this film.

Trouble in Paradise (1932):  This movie is hilarious. I wrote about this film in my Lubitsch and it is still awesome.  Bonus: Miriam Hopkins wears glasses when she pretends to be a secretary which I believe is one of the few times someone looks good wearing glasses in a movie.

Mantrap (1926):  Clara Bow in another awesome movie.  I love the scene where she just takes off in the boat and leaves her husband and potential new husband on the shore.  I love when she say that she "flirts only when its absolutely necessary."

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920):  This movie is just so weird.  I think that's why I loved it so much the first time I watched it.  It just kind of fascinated me with those crazy sets and of course, Cesare.

Mary Pickford
Sparrows (1926):  My favorite Mary Pickford movie that I've seen. She is fantastic as she protects the children from the horrible old man.  The scene where the baby dies is great.  Mary Pickford provides proof that silent movie acting is often very underplayed and then all the more powerful.

The Mark of Zorro (1920):  Douglas Fairbanks is hilarious in this movie.  I love when he pretends to be the boring Don that does tricks with a handkerchief. "Have you seen this one?"  Of course the action is pretty exciting as well.

Our Modern Maidens (1929): If there is one random obscure super specific genre I love it's flapper movies, doesn't matter if it is a melodrama or a comedy. I will love it if it was made in the 1920s and stars Joan Crawford, Clara Bow, or Colleen Moore, so I love this movie.  Joan Crawford is exceptional in this film and beautifully underacts a scene at the end where she gives up her happiness (at least temporarily).  As a bonus, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. does imitations of John Barrymore, John Gilbert, and his dad as Robin Hood.

Bebe Daniels and Gloria Swanson
Why Change Your Wife? (1920): If you have only seen Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, you should definitely see this movie.  It is hilarious.  She is great when she is the dowdy housewife.  I also love Thomas Meighan as her husband.  Bonus: there is a great cat fight between Bebe Daniels and Gloria Swanson.

The Oyster Princess (1919):  I already wrote about this in my Lubitsch post, but it is seriously hilarious.

Davies as Lillian Gish
The Patsy (1928):  Marion Davies is great in this movie.  She wants to date her sister's boyfriend so she asks him for advice for the dating world and he tells her to get a personality.  Eventually she does imitations of Mae Murray, Pola Negri, and Lillian Gish, which are hilarious.  Marie Dressler also stars as her mean, but hilarious, mother.


"Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood" by Eileen Whitefield:  This is a very solid biography of the great Mary Pickford.  It provides a fascinating look at her family, working in movies in the early days in New York and of course the start of Hollywood and her marriage to Douglas Fairbanks.  The end is very sad because of her alcoholism and reclusiveness, but the book provides a interesting look at one of the most popular actresses of all time and the first and only female movie mogul.

"Runnin' Wild" by David Stenn:  This is probably the best biography I've ever read. It is extremely well researched and you also get to know Clara Bow as a person, who was often funny, but had the worst personal life ever.

"Swanson on Swanson":  A great biography.  It was extremely interesting and had a lot of fascinating stories about Hollywood in the 1920s.

"Flapper" by Joshua Zeitz:  I love the 1920s, so I really loved this book.  It has detailed sections on the Fitzgeralds, Coco Chanel, and the flappers of the movies -Colleen Moore, Louise Brooks, and Clara Bow.  The book is very well researched and well written.

"Whatever Happened to Baby Peggy?":  Another great autobiography.  She writes about her Hollywood years, but the reader also gains insights into vaudeville and aspects of being a child star such as the pressure of being your family's sole support.

All five of these books helped me understand early Hollywood and the 1920s more and they were also all darn good reads.  Happy New Year!

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