Posts Tagged ‘silent film’

The Navigator

Monday, October 4th, 2010

The Navigator: Ultimate Edition [Blu-ray]

Starring – Buster Keaton, Kathryn Mcguire, Frederick Vroom

Released – October, 1924

Directed By – Donald Crisp, Buster Keaton

Produced By – Buster Keaton Productions

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Description – Wealthy, but lonely, Rollo Treadway witnesses a young couples loving embrace and decides to propose marriage to, the also wealthy, Betsy O’Brien who lives across the street.

His plan is to marry Betsy and sail to Honolulu. However, things don’t always work out as planned. Betsy refuses Rollo’s marriage proposal and in an effort to recover from her rejection he decides to sail alone.

His emotional distraction causes Rollo to board the wrong ship. Instead of the cruise ship, he mistakenly boards ‘The Navigator’ a ship owned by Betsy’s father John O’Brien. Soon Betsy also boards the ship looking for her father who seems to be missing.

Missing he is, as he has been captured by spies who have now cut the ship loose to drift away. As the ship begins to drift, neither Rollo or Betsy are aware that the other is on board. Eventually, the pair find each other on the otherwise deserted ship and have a great deal of initial difficulty fending for themselves.

As time passes they are able to take care of each other onboard ship, but continue to drift for weeks until they finally come to an island. Salvation… with one big problem, this island is inhabited by cannibals.

NOTABLE: The Navigator proved to be Buster Keaton’s biggest commercial success and includes some of his most memorable gags.

Buster Keaton got the idea for this film after hearing of a large passenger ship that was due to be scrapped. He bought the ship for a very low price and used it as a large prop.


The Iron Horse

Monday, October 4th, 2010

The Iron Horse

Tagline – Blazing the Trail of Love and Civilization!

Starring – George O’Brien (Davy Brandon), Madge Bellamy (Miriam Marsh), Charles Edward Bull (Abraham Lincoln), Cyril Chadwick (Peter Jesson), Will Walling (Thomas Marsh).

Released – August, 1924

Directed By – John Ford

Produced By – Fox Film Corporation

Distributed By – Fox Film Corporation

Description – Davy Brandon and his father set off to find a route to build the first transcontinental railroad. They come across a pass that will shorten the expected route by 200 miles. This is a great find until they are attacked by a group of Cheyenne Indians led by a white renegade.

Davy, who is hidden, witnesses his father’s  murder and scalping at the hand of a killer with only two fingers on his right hand.

Many years pass, Davy is now grown and President Lincoln has just signed a bill authorizing the construction of the Union and Central Pacific Railways. Thomas Marsh is the contractor with Peter Jesson as his Chief Engineer. Jesson is also engaged to Miriam Marsh a close childhood friend of Davy.

The original route is used for the rail line with the work being done by Chinese, Italians, and Irish laborers. The project runs into nothing but trouble with constant attacks by Indians and a stolen payroll.

Davy, who is now a pony express rider, remembers his fathers discovery of the shortcut and offers to help find it again. However, there are those who will greatly benefit with the use of the original route and they are not about to let things change.

An exciting story of love, treachery, and revenge.

NOTABLE: During the filming of a climatic gun battle the cast and crew awoke to find that the area was covered in snow. It took all hands to clear the shooting site in order for the scene to be completed.

Shooting The Iron Horse, in a somewhat remote area, necessitated that the crew have their own bootlegger. Sadly, during one of the refreshment runs, the bootlegger allegedly struck and killed someone with his car.

The kitchen crew for this film was comprised mostly of Chinese. Some of these Chinese had worked on the original project in 1869.



Girl Shy

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection Vol. 1

Starring – Harold Lloyd, Jobyna Ralston, Richard Daniels, Carlton Griffin

Released – April, 1924

Directed By – Fred C. Newmeyer, Sam Taylor

Produced By – The Harold Lloyd Corporation

Distributed By – Pathe’ Exchange

Description – Tailor’s apprentice Harold Meadows works in a small shop owned by his uncle. Harold is extremely shy, mostly due to his stuttering, and has not had any luck meeting a girl. In fact, whenever he even tries to speak with a girl his stuttering becomes even worse.

In an effort to help others like himself he is writing a book titled ‘The Secret of Making Love.’ The content of the book comes not from his experience, but from his fantasies. On his way to Los Angeles, by train, to bring his completed book to a publisher, Harold meets rich young socialite Mary Buckingham.

As luck would have it, the two hit it off, and with Mary, Harold’s shyness begins to go away. The two are smitten with each other. One problem, Mary already has a suitor who plans on marrying her.

Harold’s book, at first rejected by the publisher, is later accepted. Excited to share the news with Mary, Harold sees a story in the newspaper announcing Mary’s wedding. But, something new surfaces; it seems Mary’s fiancee is already married and Harold sets out to stop their wedding and win the hand of the girl he loves.

Thus begins one of comedian Harold Lloyd’s most famous sequences. The frantic trip to stop the wedding includes bootleggers, car chases, a trolley, a motorcycle, a horse-drawn carriage, and a ride on horseback.

NOTABLE: Girl Shy was silent comedian Harold Lloyd’s first independent motion picture after having split from Hal Roach.

The film was the second of six pairing Lloyd with actress Jobyna Ralston who also left Hal Roach to continue working with Lloyd.

Many of the exterior shots for the film were filmed at Haroly Lloyd’s estate, Green Acres, in Beverly Hills, California.


Sherlock, Jr.

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Sherlock Jr. / Three Ages [Blu-ray]

Tagline –  Every inch of footage holds such a laugh

Starring – Buster Keaton, Kathryn McGuire, Joe Keaton, Erwin Connelly, Ward Crane

Released – April, 1924

Directed By – Buster Keaton

Produced By – Buster Keaton Productions

Distributed By – Metro Pictures Corporation

Description – A hapless movie projectionist, working double duty as a janitor, is studying hard through a correspondence course in order to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a detective. He is also in love, and is going to propose marriage to his girlfriend. However, he has a rival for the young woman’s hand.

The projectionist’s next date with his love is to be a very special one as he brings chocolates and an engagement ring. His rival dosen’t give up so easily and steals the girlfriend’s father’s watch placing the blame of the love sick projectionist.

Dejected and without the consent of the girl’s father, he returns to his job and during a movie showing falls asleep. He dreams that he is the Sherlock Holmes type of detective in the film and that he solves the theft of a pearl necklace.

His dream leads him on a quest to solve the mystery of the stolen watch and to get back his girlfriend.

NOTABLE: In 1991, Sherlock, Jr. was selected for the National Film Registry for preservation by the Library of Congress.

Though not particularly well received during its release, today many believe this to be the finest of the Buster Keaton comedies. Equally impressive were the imaginative camera tricks used to make it appear as if he stepped right into the movie screen during the dream scenes.

Sherlock, Jr.’s assistant, whose character name was Gillette, was named after actor William Gillette who was the first actor to play Sherlock Holmes on stage.



Our Hospitality

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Our Hospitality: ULTIMATE EDITION [Blu-ray]

Starring – Buster Keaton, Joe Roberts, Natalie Talmadge, Ralph Bushman

Released – November, 1923

Directed By – John G. Blystone, Buster Keaton

Produced By – Joseph M. Schenck Productions

Distributed By – Metro Pictures Corporation

Description – A silent slapstick comedy that satirizes the famous Hatfield-McCoy feud. In this story the Canfield and McKay families have been feuding for so long that no one can remember what the feud is actually about.

Willie McKay was sent to New York, as a child, to be raised away from and without knowing anything about the family feud. Twenty-one years have passed, and upon learning of his father’s death, Willie is going back home to claim his family estate even after being told of the feud by the aunt who has raised him.

On the train home, Willie meets Virginia and they hit it off. Virginia invites Willie to dinner at her home – the Canfield home. Upon learning that a McKay will be in the house it is decided by Virginia’s father that Willie must be killed, but not while in the home.

Willie, oblivious to the whole plan, luckily stays alive when a series of incidents prevent him from actually leaving the home.

However, there is a target on his back; and just where do the women’s dress and the waterfall come in?

NOTABLE: Actress Natalie Talmadge is the wife of Buster Keaton.

Sadly, during filming, actor and friend of Keaton, Joseph Canfield suffered a stroke. Another would follow shortly after filming and would prove fatal.