Saturday, July 27, 2013

Days 14- 30 (oops)

Day 14: Film That Made you Cry the Hardest:
     This is a hard one because I cry a lot when I watch movies.  I think it is probably The Best Years of Our Lives, though because both times I watched it, I cried through at least half of it.

Day 15: Film With the Most Beautiful Scenery:
    The Return (2003).  I put this because I for some reason never imagined Russia as actually pretty.  This film assured me that at least some of it is.

Day 16: Film With the Snappiest Dialogue/ Intertitles
   The one that comes to mind is His Girl Friday.

Day 17: Favorite Film Score
    I really like the Kino edition's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari's score.  It really adds to the atmosphere of that creepy film..

Day 18: Film With your Favorite Villain
    Musidoria in Judex and Les Vampires

Day 19: Film With Your Favorite Hero
    I think I'll go with Douglas Fairbanks as Zorro in The Mark of Zorro, partly because I love those lame parlor tricks and his kinda goofy Zorro mustache he sticks on.

Day 20: Film You Wish You Could Live In
    I don't know if I would want to live here for very long, but I think hanging out with Joan and Anita in the melodramatic flapper world of Our Dancing Daughters (or Our Modern Maidens) would be fantastic.

Day 21: Film You Used to Love but Now Hate
    Singin' in the Rain. (Sorry, I know heresy) When I was a kid I adored this movie, but when I watched it a year ago, I was unimpressed by pretty much everything except Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont.  Although her character is going to keep the squeaky voice silent star alive for a long time yet.  I don't think I particularly hate it, I just don't need to see it again.

Day 22: Film That No One Expected You to Love
     The (new) Great Gatsby.  I am often a stickler for historical details, so my family thought I was going to hate it, but I kinda loved its craziness and thought the hip hop worked for some reason.

Day 23: Film that Disappointed You the Most
    The General.  I kept hearing it referred to as 'the best silent film' but was unimpressed with this gag picture, which just seems to be an hour long chase scene.  Maybe I'll have to watch it again.

Day 24:Film that you wish you had a time machine so you could see it in the theater
   I would have to say We Moderns with Colleen Moore, partly because I adore flapper films, but also because it is lost and I have read a few period reviews calling it her best film, plus this poster looks awesome:

Day 25: Most Beautiful Costume Design
     The one that comes to mind is Imitation of Life.  The costumes are amazing.  Of course having many of them worn by Lana Turner doesn't hurt.

Day 26: Character You Relate to Most
    Joan Fontaine as the Second Mrs. DeWinter in Rebecca, especially those first scenes. That is exactly how I act and feel sometimes- awkward and silly, but I feel like I have the core of strength that she shows later in the film.

Day 27: A Movie From Your Favorite Director
   Currently my favorite director is King Vidor who was so adept at directing comedy, drama, etc. One of my favorite of his movies that I have seen is Show People. Few movies get me to consistently giggle like this one.

Day 28: A Movie That Casts a Favorite Performer Against Type
   Notorious subtly plays with Cary Grant's screen persona in a way that I find fascinating.

Day 29: A Movie From a 'Gone Too Soon' Performer
    Libeled Lady.  I adore Jean Harlow and while I can see that she wasn't the best actress, she was getting better at comedy by the year, which is one of the reasons why it is so sad that she died so young.
"Did you change your insurance?"

Day 30:  A Movie From What You Consider to be the Best Year for Film
    1927.   I don't know that I can pick one, but a list may indicate why I think it's the best.  My Best Girl, It, Sunrise, Wings, 7th Heaven, The Unknown, The Cat and the Canary, Chicago, etc., etc.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Days 12-13

Day 12: Favorite Movie based on a book, poem, or song

   I think that the movie that is the best adaption I have seen is All Quiet on the Western Front, because it nails all the important themes and creates potent imagery.

Day 13: Film that is your Guilty Pleasure

   I guess I will say 42nd Street.  There are definitely some very good things about the film, like Ginger Rogers, Una Merkel, and the choreography, but there is a lot of bad.  However I can't help but love every minute of it, even the terrible parts.  However I do feel a little guilty re-watching movies knowing I could be crossing movies off of my 'To Watch' list.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Days 9-11

Day 9: Favorite Animal Star
Asta/ Mr. Smith

Day 10: Favorite Child Star
Baby Peggy

Day 11: Favorite Character Actor/ Actress
Eugene Pallette

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Day 8: Favorite Comedic Screen Team

   Myrna Loy and William Powell never fail to make me chortle.  I love The Thin Man, Libeled Lady, and any other movie of theirs that I have seen.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Day 7: Favorite Romantic Screen Team


  Recently I have watched several movies with Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell and have really loved them as a team. 7th Heaven in particular is a great example of how they can carry semi-melodramatic plots with aplomb.  I am not normally one for movies about the trials of being young lovers but for some reason I adore these two.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Day 6: Favorite Romantic or Screwball Comedy

  This is another tough one, but I'll say The Awful Truth

Monday, June 17, 2013

Day 5: Favorite Adventure

Definitely The Mark of Zorro with Douglas Fairbanks.  I love how his 'real' self is such a nerd.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Day 4: Favorite Drama

Here are some of my favorites: The Big Parade, Imitation of Life (1959), and The Best Years of Our Lives.  The frames below are some of my favorite moments from these films.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

30 Day Classic/ Silent Movie Challenge: Days 2 and 3

Day 2: Acclaimed Classic/ Silent Film You Hate

I can generally find something to appreciate in highly regarded films so my feelings don't normally amount to detestation except for one film-- You Can't Take It With You.

A film that so delights in its own pretentiousness and "cleverness" is infuriating.  Lionel Barrymore is of course the worst offender gleefully not paying his taxes because you know having roads and policemen is not his concern.  One of the worst parts is that it has a cast, especially Jean Arthur and Edward Arnold, that could make it a much funnier film.

Day 3: Favorite Comedy

It's hard to go with just one, so I won't.  Here are movies that could very well make up my top 5.  Show People, It, Girl Shy, Trouble in Paradise, and Stage Door.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

30 Day Classic/Silent Movie Challenge: Day 1

  Movies Silently came up with a 30 day challenge so here is my answer for Day 1.  They are all super cool ideas, just fyi.

Day 1: Best Classic or Silent Film You Have Seen in the Last 12 Months


This serial is awesome.  Judex is my favorite superhero.  He is a really fascinating character.  There are some really interesting other characters.  One thing that I loved about this serial is that the female characters are all so multi-dimensional (a disappointingly rare thing for action movies.)

like when this chick saves Judex

and it has Musidora

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Peevish Sunday: Silent Movie Assumptions

     I admit it, I have a ton of pet peeves, many of which have to do with movies.  One of the ones that bothers me the most concerns many people's perceptions about silent movie acting.  There seems to a reputation that much of the acting in silent films is unbelievably over the top or strange.  (As a side note, if you put mute on most talkies, it would also seem over the top.)
This part is pretty strange
     One of the main reasons for this is the movies newbies are shown.  The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Metropolis, Nosferatu...etc.  I took German and Scandinavian Cinema last semester and the only silent films we watched were The Phantom Carriage, Metropolis, and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.  Some people complained of having a hard time with silent film.  Well of course if these were the first you'd seen, they'd be hard to watch. I have a hard time watching The Phantom Carriage and Metropolis and Caligari  have an Expressionist acting that can be off putting.  The sad thing about this is that even many of the film students now think silent film acting is strange but you 'have' to put up with it if you want to seem educated. Even Keaton and Chaplin, the other things shown to newbies, are in some way different than what we would see now. However movie actors, especially Mary Pickford, were a huge part of the shift that changed the melodramatic stage acting of the 1800s to the more naturalistic style of now, so many of silent films have a very natural style.

Everyday life
    I will say at this point that of course silent film is different.  News flash- there's no talking and they were filmed almost a hundred years ago.  However one of my favorite things about watching old and foreign movies is how much people are the same and how I can in a little way reconnect with people of the past by seeing some of the movies they watched.  This is why I think we should show newbies actors like Harold Lloyd and Clara Bow, Charles Farrell, Janet Gaynor, Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson, Ossi Osswalda, Douglas Fairbanks and John Gilbert who really aren't that different from today's stars, and who often set the stage for them.  We should also watch movies like Safety Last!, The Freshman*, It, Mantrap, Why Change Your Wife?, 7th Heaven, The Big Parade, The Oyster Princess, Judex, My Best Girl, The Mark of Zorro, Girl Shy, The Crowd, etc. etc. instead of just the arty and experimental movies, which of course have their place, but should not be the only story of silent film and especially not be thought of as the norm of silent film acting.

* I was watching the Harold Lloyd marathon on TCM about a week and a half ago and my room mates, unfamiliar with silent film, came in and watched this movie with me and loved it.  I mean like rolling on the floor laughing.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Liebster Award

First off, I want to note how much I appreciate being nominated for this award.  Well here are eleven random facts about me:
   1.  My favorite song right now is probably "In the Mood" by Glenn Miller and his band.
   2.  I will be doing my student teaching in the fall and then hopefully teach US History to 11th graders.
   3.  I am a vegetarian.
   4.  I am reading Rebecca and Mrs. Danvers might actually be creeper in the book than in the film.
   5.  I like Bill Haley a lot more than Elvis and Buddy Holly.
   6.  I like Harold Lloyd more than Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton.
   7.  My favorite author is F. Scott Fitzgerald. (My favorite thing written by him is the short story "Bernice Bobs Her Hair.")
   8.  My favorite I Love Lucy episode is the one with William Holden and Eve Arden--"L.A. at Last."
   9.  One of my favorite museums is the Smithsonian American History museum.  I lived in Washington, DC one summer and that was my 'hangout.'  (For some reason, my room mates rarely joined me.)
   10.  I like Greta Garbo better in her silent films.  She plays too over the top for my taste in her talkies, though few things are as awesome as Garbo saying "Put that in your pipes and smoke it" in Anna Christie.
   11.  The reason I have written so little this semester is because I had two papers that I had to have original research for.  I wrote both on movie related topics; one about the generational conflict about movies in the 1920s between young women and their parents and the other about Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks' honeymoon and how it fits in the larger picture of the rise of honeymooning and companionate marriage.  I turned them in Tuesday, but I am kind of sad that I won't need to do any more official research on the topics.

Now for the questions provided by Aubyn at "The Girl with the White Parasol":

1. Olivia de Havilland or Joan Fontaine?
    I prefer Joan Fontaine as an actress, but Olivia seems like she would be a more pleasant person to meet and talk to, as Joan seems kind of bitter.

2. What are your top 5 favorite movie scores? (I limited it to ones that I could remember what they sound like and ones that came to my mind first.)
        the traditional Metropolis score- it always gets stuck in my head
        It (the Kino edition)
        The Best Years of Our Lives
        The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (again Kino)
3. What film gets your vote for "most perfect casting?"
      Dinner at Eight (especially Billie Burke, Jean Harlow, Marie Dressler, and Wallace Beery)

4. Do you watch the Oscars?

5. Mother's Day is next month. Name 5 of the most memorable movie mothers (note that I did not specify good or bad). [This is a very random list but these are some of my favorite mothers in movies.]
Cary Grant's mother in North by Northwest

     John Gilbert's mother in The Big Parade
     Mildred Pierce in, um, Mildred Pierce
     Irene Dunne's character in My Favorite Wife
     Myrna Loy's character in The Best Years of Our Lives
6. What is your favorite "comfort movie" for when you're feeling blue?

7. What is a movie star/director collaboration that you wish had happened but never did?
     Clara Bow and Ernst Lubitsch (in a silent film)
8. If you could choose any movie star, past or present, to star in the biopic of your life, who would you choose? 
     Well since about 3/4ths of my life has been spent in school, hopefully this biopic would significantly alter the story. But I'll say Myrna Loy.

9. Name an author that deserves more film adaptations of their work.
     I don't read much fiction so I'll go with Fitzgerald.  I wish there were more adaptions besides The Great Gatsby.  I like a lot of his other work more and wish it got more attention.

10. Do movie remakes make you cheer, shrug, or shudder?
     Shudder because I have had the experience that if someone sees the remake they will not want to see the original. Also remakes generally don't show any imagination, staying too close to the original and not being inventive enough.  They also choose peoples' favorite movies to redo, in lieu of something that could be improved upon.

11. What is your favorite "so bad it's good" movie-watching experience?
       I really don't like deliberately watching bad movies because it feels like a waste of my precious viewing time.  However very occasionally I will watch a poor movie, like 10,000 B.C. and Van Helsing with my siblings and make fun of it the entire time, which is pretty fun.

I am sorry, but I am not going to nominate anyone as I would spend too much thinking and worrying anxiously about it.  

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mary Pickford

     I clearly have not written for a while, but I can't pass Mary Pickford's birthday by without saying a few words about the woman who was born 121 years ago today.
     Mary Pickford was clearly an amazing woman.  She was one of the first movie stars and was at the top of the industry for nearly twenty years.  A producer, brilliant business woman, and a great actress.  Although it seems her business sense has been widely acknowledged, I think her acting appeal is often overlooked because she 'only played little girls.'  
      First off this is of course not true, as she played a much wider range than that, but secondly why does it even matter?  People get Oscars and other awards for playing old people, but it is for some reason 'disturbing' to viewers, even classic and silent film lovers that she sometimes played adolescents.  I don't really know why this is the case.  Actually I am incredibly tired of the cliched phrase that an actor or actress "is too old for the part".  It seems to me that a great performance is a great performance, whether it's Mary Pickford playing a teenager at the age of 34 or Bette Davis playing an old woman in her twenties.  

    Perhaps Mary Pickford makes it look too easy.  I am 20 years old (technically still an adolescent and will be for a few years as that age range goes to 25). I think she perfectly encapsulates the mixed emotions and potential of a teenage girl, which are still vivid and sometimes painful memories for me.  For example see how she reacts to the grown man in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm with an awakening sense of attraction, but underneath still unaware of what that means.  One of my personal favorite of moments in all film is the scene in Sparrows where her character realizes the baby has died.  Pickford plays it with sadness, but also understanding, as the her character, who has been through a lot, must have.  She always has such amazing fully thought out character portrayals, whether she plays a young girl or a young woman.  I recently watched My Best Girl where Pickford plays a grown woman.  It is one of the most complete characters I have ever seen in a film.  She is both excited about her new and probably first romance and burdened by her family.  Of course in the scene near the end she brilliantly shows this conflict, that must be seen several times to be appreciated.
     Let's put Mary Pickford where she belongs in the film history books, both as a pioneering film maker and a great actress and stop griping about age and give credit where it is so clearly due.