Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Falling in love again...

what am I to do..."

Something from an old the one I fell in love with the other night.

Dottie and I have been making good use of the Netflix subscription John and Noel gave us and have continued it on our own; with our hours and such it works out to a disc apiece per week. Hers is usually something we missed in the theater; mine is usually something I can't get ahold of anywhere else.

In Kevin Brownlow's "The Parade's Gone By" he raved about a scene in a movie that I managed to catch on TCM. I not only agreed with him but knew I should find more work by the lead actress; I hadn't gotten around to it until now. They called her "America's Sweetheart".

Her name was Mary Pickford. She lit up the screen from almost the beginning of the movies. During WW1 she went on bond drives for the government and raised $5 million a day! She was such a star by 1919 that she; an actor she would soon marry (Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.), the biggest comic actor of his day (Chaplin), and the best known director of his time (Griffith) joined forces to create the United Artists studio!

Brownlow spoke glowingly of Mary's dual role in "Stella Maris" and of Francis Marion's screenplay (another gal ahead of her time, one of the premier screenwriter's of her day, subject, if memory serves of a book and documentary; "Without Lying Down").

He was so very correct, and I have a new movie trying to find it's place in my "Top Ten"!

The other movie I had seen, "Sparrows" is very very good, but also very dark; a review on the IMDB compares it to Dickens; an apt parallel! I can still, after perhaps 6 years, well up in tears thinking of it...

"Stella Maris" has it's moments as well; not exactly the "modern" Hollywood formula, either, it's such a stunning treat of photography, acting and music its images will stay with you long after the last frame!

A beautiful print, gorgeously restored with all of it's original tints; also a score written for this reissue that could easily stand on it's own!

For something released 90 years ago this year, it can rival anything you find on screen today! With no "green screens" and no computers; just camera, lens and a film that had properties unlike anything they make today (also flammable, unlike the film of today) they truly created magic!

After their initial growth from the "two reelers" of Griffith at Biograph and later Mack Sennett, etc., the best movies of the era were never "silent", and were never "black and white". Along with "Intolerance" and Abel Gance's "Napoleon", this one might even make my Top 5, which would make "Casablanca" the only "talkie" there! (Pressed to name that 5th I'd have to choose between Chaplin's "The Kid" or "City Lights" and I really can't), and I couldn't rank them, either...sorry!)

Tomorrow I'll have the last disc of 4 of Roscoe Arbuckle movies, some of which I have on VHS but the restoration process is so beautiful now that watching them now versus my old tapes is light years in difference. Next in my queue? "Pandora's Box" which I saw 10 years ago perhaps, and following it a disc of extra material. Mary Pickford's "Tess of the Storm Country" just skipped it's way from 62nd (where I added it last night after watching "Stella Maris" to 3rd.

I feel as though I should apologize for a rant somehow...or would it be a rave?

May the week be kind!



ConnieJane said...

Based on your raving reviews, I believe I'll look into the availability of some of Miss Pickfords films.

Glad you enjoyed your choices so much!

PS: Stop by Don's site. He has some sad news.

kath said...

What a beautiful picture.. and what a wonderful, interesting post! Typical for you though... it is never dull in your blog...

oh and Alan dear.. the thought of me in a bikini is one of the terrifying things I can ever imagine seeing....

Ange (formerly Writer Mom) said...

Thank you for this.
It was a wonderful distraction.

I watched Fly Boys after you mentioned it, and saw it again this week. Really like that film, as I'm interested in WWI history.

I also have fond memories of Charlie Chaplin. I'll have to pick up a Mary Pickford.

Green tea said...

Like you Alan I watch a lot of TCM, I love old movies.
I have also gotten them at the library.
Lately though I have been chipping away at my book list..currently reading
Water for Elephants/Sara Gruen
I am loving it..

Have a good weekend!!

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