"Spine-tingling Macabre Masterpiece!"
The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Original Version 1929 Restored Version
Directed by Rupert Julian, Edward Sedgwick, Ernst Laemmle
Starring: Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin
Heavily influenced by German Expressionism, with its moody sets and murky patterns of shadows and light, The Phantom of the Opera set the style for such subsequent films as Dracula, Frankenstein and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The melodramatic tale of a deformed man, an abused outsider all his life, searching for love in a world of socialites repulsed by his presence, obviously derives from Victor Hugo's classic Hunchback novel. The film's visual emphasis on subterranean settings and impressive sets, such as the Paris Opera House, also clearly informed these later films. As the Phantom, Lon Chaney created such an empathetic villain that it was nearly impossible not to root for him. The groundbreaking use of the costly two-strip Technicolor process in some key scenes is tremendously effective in conveying the film's tone. On-set battles led to a series of directors, including Chaney himself, taking the helm for different scenes, but the final vision was that of New Zealander Rupert Julian. Even as the story deteriorates into hokey melodrama, Chaney's riveting performance holds the film together to the end. The moment when the Phantom's mask is ripped away remains one of the most chilling moments in movie history. ~ Dan Jardine, All Movie Guide
Heart O’ The Hills 1919
Directed by Sidney Franklin
Starring: Mary Pickford, John Gilbert
Heart O' the Hills was one of four films Mary Pickford released in 1919 and the last she would make for a distributor other than her own. It was a tumultuous year for Mary, who was running her own studio, forming United Artists and conducting a clandestine affair with Douglas Fairbanks. A backwoods melodrama about land-grabbing in the mountains of Kentucky, the film gave Mary the chance to extend her range from her previous half-dozen parts. For almost two years, audiences had seen her in a series of urban settings or in familiar roles from popular projects. Heart o# the Hills, with its often brutal subject matter and frank treatment of poverty, could hardly have been a greater change of pace from the lighthearted Daddy-Long-Legs. Mary had played characters like this before; the dramatic result, culminating in a memorable court trial sequence, would prove to be a dramatic and critical success. (Milestone)
"Lois Weber's Silent Masterpiece"
The Blot 1921
Directed by Lois Weber
Starring: Claire Windsor,Louis Calhern
Lois Weber was generally championing something or someone in her films; this time around it's underpaid white-collar workers. Professor Griggs (Phillip Hubbard) can barely afford to support his wife (Margaret McWade) and daughter, Amelia (Claire Windsor). Amelia works at a library and she has three suitors -- carefree college boy Phil West (Louis Calhern), the boy next door whose father is a well-to-do shoemaker, and a poor minister. When Amelia is taken ill, the doctor advises her mother that she must have nourishing food. Since this is beyond what she can afford, Mrs. Griggs steals a chicken from her next-door neighbor. Because of the theft, Amelia returns to work early so that she can pay for the bird. Although West is loved by a girl of his own social station (Marie Walcamp), he prefers Amelia. She refuses to encourage him until he changes his frivolous ways. Not only does he decide to settle down, he also convinces his father, who is on the college board of trustees, to give Amelia's father a raise. Eventually the couple unite. ~ Janiss Garza, All Movie Guide
Eternal Love 1929
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch
Starring: John Barrymore Camilla Horn
Lost for decades, cinema genius Ernst Lubitsch's historical drama "Eternal Love" is a wonderful rediscovery. Starring the great John Barrymore and the gorgeous Camilla Horn, the film features the legendary actor in a sexual tour-de-force. Barrymore's powerful love scenes with Horn are among both actors' best performances on film. UCLA Film and Television Archives have combined the original sound and picture quality for this film restoration. Milestone
Garbo - A Cinematic Legend
Great Garbo a timeless and alluring actress of the 1920s and 1930s whose enigmatic beauty in a series of MGM silent films catapulted her to international movie stardom.
Flesh and the Devil , 1926 Directed by Clarence Brown
Mysterious Lady , 1928 Directed by Fred Niblo
The Temptress 1926 Directed by Fred Niblo
The Garbo Silents disc features Flesh and the Devil , one of her sizzling box-office duets with John Gilbert; The Temptress , a wild number with Garbo as a man-killer who follows Antonio Moreno to the plains of Argentina; and The Mysterious Lady , a tight spy picture with Garbo as a Russian agent seducing the susceptible Conrad Nagel. When Garbo finally talked it was headline news, and if Anna Christie has aged a bit, the star's sultry enunciation of "Gimme a visky" retains its historic punch. (The disc includes a German-language version of the film shot at the same time.)
Anna Christie 1930 Directed by Clarence Brown
Worried about her heavy Swedish accent, MGM waited as long as
possible before announcing on billboards, "Garbo Talks!" in 1930's
Anna Christie (her opening line is "Gimme a whiskey with a ginger ale
on the side and don't be stingy, baby"). Like many early talkies, the
film is slow going and static and is saved by Marie Dressler's comic
supporting role as the drunk. Interestingly, the set includes the
simultaneously filmed German version with Salka Vertiel (later Garbo's
lover and mentor) in the title role. It's of momentary interest.
Grand Hotel 1932 Directed by Edmund Goulding
The all-star Grand Hotel with the Swedish Spinx as the exhausted
ballerina was next in 1931. The lady with the vapors role (in which she
actually says, "I want to be alone") set the stage for the rest of her
aborted film career, and life. Audiences loved seeing Garbo in this
tragic light (and didn't mind her dying over and over on camera) and
MGM took full advantage. The set includes an interesting, all new
documentary about the film.
Mata Hari 1931 Directed by George Fitzmaurice
Queen Christina 1933 Directed by Rouben Mamoulian
The silly, immensely entertaining hokum of Mata Hari came next
followed by the lesbian classic Queen Christina in which Garbo
set a thousand Sapphic hearts aflame with her declared intent to stay
a "bachelor girl." The black and white photography is perhaps the
most sumptuous of her career and it is in this film (and the famous
close-up that ends it) that THAT FACE reaches its apex.
Anna Karenina 1935 Directed by Clarence Brown
Camille 1935 Directed by George Cukor
Anna Karenina , another tragedy and Camille her best
remembered film followed. In the former she paired beautifully with the
poignant child star Freddie Bartholomew, in the latter, with the
impossibly beautiful Robert Taylor. Clarence Brown was Garbo's
favorite director but she gave her usual masterful performance for gay
director George Cukor as the doomed Parisian courtesan. WBHV has
also thoughtfully included the 1921 Nazimova-Valentino version.
Ninotcha 1939 Directed by Ernst Lubitsch
Finally, MGM realized it was time for a change and proudly announced
"Garbo Laughs!" in Ninotcha , Lubitsch's light as a feather
comedy that brought a breath of fresh air to her career. -- Robert Horton/Amazon
Director: D.W. Griffith
Starring: Lilian Gish, Richard Barthelmess
D.W. Griffith was many things: movie innovator, maker of grand statements (The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance being among the biggest of all silent films), the first American superstar director--the Steven Spielberg of his era. Griffith was also very much a conscious artist, a man who did not think of movies as a mere medium for entertainment but as an art form. The mute evidence of this can be found on ample display in Griffith's 1919 drama Broken Blossoms, a tragic and completely uncommercial project that proved to be hugely popular. The director's most favored leading lady, Lillian Gish, plays an adolescent girl in London's rough Limehouse district; abused by her father (Donald Crisp), a crude boxer, she is cared for by a poetic Chinese man (Richard Barthelmess). Gish, who had doubts about playing a child (and was not yet fully recovered from a brush with the deadly Spanish flu epidemic), delivers a magnificent performance. Justly famous for her hysterical meltdown while trapped in a closet, she also brings off the smaller moments: her hesitation while gazing at a flower she can't possibly afford to buy is a heartbreaking piece of pantomime. Griffith's delicacy of touch extends to matters of race, as he clearly sides with the refined man from China, who must endure the prattle of white men boasting about traveling to the Orient and converting "the heathen." Small in scale compared to Griffith's mightier projects, Broken Blossoms is nevertheless one of his most beautiful films, and a landmark of the silent era. --Robert Horton
"A Truly Legendary Silent Film"
Dr. Mabuse The Gambler 1922
Directed by Fritz Lang
Starring: Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Aud Egede Nissen
Fritz Lang's Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler is often thought of as the place where the director's filmmaking aesthetic springs full-grown to the screen. He had experimented with different aspects of visual style in his earlier works, but it is on this epic -- some four hours long in its original release -- that Lang pulled all of these elements together into the hyper-expressionist style that was identifiable as his. The first of three adaptations of the Norbert Jacques' novels by the renowned director, the film also provided Lang's wife and screenwriter Thea Von Harbou a canvas on which to explore and expand her own work. The subject matter, a cat-and-mouse game between a master criminal (with considerable scientific -- or, more properly, pseudo-scientific) knowledge at his disposal, and a top law enforcement official, was intrinsically absorbing in Lang's hands, especially as these characters were portrayed by Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Bernhard Goetzke; their duel would go on to influence the plots of comic books and feature films for a generation to come and longer, right into the twenty-first century in the form of the James Bond movies. As for Lang, his next career jump would be the Niebelung adaptations, in two epic-length movies that were even more stylized visually. ~ Bruce Eder, All Movie Guide
An historical epic from Ernst Lubitsch
Anna Boleyn 1921
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch
Starring: Emil Jannings, Henny Porten
Before he became one of Hollywood’s legendary directors, Ernst Lubitsch was among the leading figures in the German film industry during the silent era, known both for his biting comedies and his groundbreaking costume dramas. His historical epic ANNA BOLEYN found success at the American box office under the title DECEPTION, and viewed today, it is a rare opportunity to see Lubitsch working in a genre other than his usual realm of sophisticated comedy. The tragic story of the second wife of England’s Henry VIII is given a first-class treatment by Lubitsch, complete with opulent sets and some beautifully-shot exterior sequences. Henny Porten (Kohlhiesel’s DAUGHTER, BACKSTAIRS) gives a memorable performance as Boleyn, but the film really belongs to Emil Jannings (THE LAST LAUGH, THE BLUE ANGEL), one of Germany’s greatest screen stars, playing Henry. Jannings’s bravura performance conveys Henry’s decadence through his insatiable appetite for both food and women, but never reduces him to caricature or pure villain. Jannings also establishes the screen model for Henry that would be further developed by Charles Laughton almost fifteen years later in THE PRIVATE LIFE OF HENRY VIII. ANNA BOLEYN was the second of Lubitsch’s German films to be released in the U.S., following MADAME DUBARRY. It was a notable success with both the critics and the public, and helped to elevate Lubitsch’s international reputation. After making three more films in Germany, Lubitsch accepted an invitation from Mary Pickford to come to Hollywood to direct her film ROSITA – and the rest, as they say, is history. Kino International
"Tight, spare script and stellar cast"
The Commander, Set 1 2002
Starring: Amanda Burton, Matthew Marsh
A complicated female cop from the creator of Prime Suspect
After 20 years with London’s Metropolitan Police, Clare Blake has reached the pinnacle of her profession. She’s New Scotland Yard’s highest-ranking woman officer, the Serious Crime Group Commander, and head of the Murder Review Team. The pressure is intense and so is the scrutiny.
Ambitious but reckless, Blake lets her personal life bleed into her career. She defies convention, risks her reputation, and always gets too close to her cases. Each misstep she makes pleases DCI Hedges, a shifty, self-interested colleague with a grudge to settle. And he’s not the only person who wants to bring her down. From award-winning writer Lynda La Plante (Prime Suspect), this compelling thriller delivers gritty stories, intricate plot twists, and a strong, complex female lead.
"...an enduring low-budget examination of the rat race"
Shock Corridor 1963 - Criterion Collection
Directed by Samuel Fuller
Starring Peter Breck, Constance Towers, Gene Evans
Maverick film director Samuel Fuller was doing some of his best work in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and in the years since its release in 1963, Shock Corridor has become a B-movie classic and a prime example of Fuller's gritty tabloid style. Never hesitant to explore the darkened corners of contemporary life, Fuller depicts the chambers of an insane asylum as a microcosm of American society, telling the story of a cynical, ambitious journalist (Peter Breck) whose obsessive quest for a Pulitzer Prize leads him into the depths of madness. To investigate a murder, the reporter goes undercover in a mental hospital, having convinced a psychiatrist that he needs treatment. Once inside the asylum, he pieces together clues to the murder, but his own mind begins to deteriorate until he's trapped in a downward spiral towards insanity. Fuller heightens the melodrama with his aggressive style of filmmaking (his next film, The Naked Kiss, proved even more effective), and his imaginative use of black-and-white cinematography (by noted cameraman Stanley Cortez) fills the movie with raw, emotional power. It's the kind of film one would expect from a rebellious director on the Hollywood fringe, and that's why Shock Corridor remains an enduring low-budget examination of the "rat race" and the consequences of pursuing success at any cost. The Criterion Collection DVD presents the film in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and a rarely seen color dream sequence has been fully restored. --Jeff Shannon
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