cover Male and Female

Saw it first on AMC Silent Sundays and loved it. An interesting look at a simpler and slower time. Interesting commentary on class and man's nature. At times, it got a little slow but the great thing about silent films is that in those days the director's challenge was to evoke emotion from the audience through action: the protanganist reacting to note just handed to him, the spying over the shoulder or the reactions to other actors. "I was a King of Bablyon and you were a Christian slave." I own it.




cover The Affairs of Anatol

The Master of Spectacle, Cecil B. De Mille, directed this risque all-star revue of decadence which must have been jaw-dropping in 1921 and remains astonishing today. Anatol de Witt Spencer (Wallace Reid), as incredibly wealthy as he is naive, and his child-like bride Vivian (Gloria Swanson) are on their honeymoon. At a posh speakeasy he spies his high school sweetheart, who is obviously the sex toy of flamboyant old Gordon Bronson . To Vivian's dismay, idealistic Anatol decides to rescue the seductive Emilie, but soon she goes back to Bronson. The cycle begins again when Anatol tries to save another wayward woman from her life of sin before finally succumbing himself to the ways of the flesh. In "The Affairs of Anatol," not only does DeMille show women smoking, drinking (during Prohibition), exposing body parts seldom before seen on a movie screen, and frankly pursuing men who attract them; he also presents this debauchery with amazing visual flair. With film design by Erte, De Mille clearly meant "The Affairs of Anatol" to be as much a decorative as a dramatic feast. The film is digitally mastered from an elaborate original print featuring hand coloring, stencil coloring, and dozens of changes in color tint and tone, in itself a striking work of art.


cover The Love Goddesses

The story of The Love Goddesses is itself a history of sex in the movies beginning with America still in the shadow of the Victorian era and the movie heroine bound by the same conventions as any young lady of society. This brilliant documentary chronicles the massive changes in women's film sexuality from the beginnings of the motion picture at the turn of the century to the newfound frankness of the 1960s with clips of more than 100 actresses.





Fascinating, frequently high-powered version of W. Somerset Maugham's Rain, about a lusty, fun-loving prostitute who arrives in Pago Pago and tangles with stuffy, hypocritical reformer Barrymore while Marine Sgt. Walsh falls for her. Swanson, and especially Barrymore, are well cast. Unseen (except in archival showings) for many years, because the final reel decomposed years ago. Now the footage (about 8m. ) has been recreated, using stills and the original title cards. Remade as RAIN, DIRTY GERTIE FROM HARLEM U. S. A. , and MISS SADIE THOMPSON.



"Tonight or Never" is one of the ten best movies about opera ever made (there have been at least 10, right?). Gloria Swanson plays Nella Vago, a young singer who has a rather disappointing operatic debut in Venice. Her voice teacher, Rudig (Gerdinand Gottschalk), tell here that her voice lacks warmth and feeling. Meanwhile, a young man (Melyvn Douglas) is following her around everything. Nella returns home to Budapest, where she learns that a scout from the Metropolitan Opera has refused to sign her until she can truly feel her songs. Depressed, she goes to the apartment of the young man and makes love to him. The next night Nella stuns the audience with her emotional performance in "Tosca." But now she has to choose between a career and the man she loves. Swanson is pretty good in this early talkie, especially since she is dressed up in gowns by Coco Chanel. This 1931 film directed by Mervyn LeRoy was based on the play by Lili Hatvany and this would be a much better movie if it seemed less like a play. Two other interesting tidbits about "Tonight or Never": The cameraman was Gregg Toland ("Citizen Kane") and the waiter was Boris Karloff, in his first role after "Frankenstein."



In Chaplin's Essanay Comedies, made in 1915, cinema's greatest comedian was first able to build his screen work around his performance style rather than forcing himself, as before, into Mack Sennett's frenzied Keystone comedy matrix. With this freedom Chaplin evolved in a year from the gag comedian of "His New Job" to the brilliant pantomimist of "A Night Out," "The Champion," "The Tramp" and "Shanghaied" to the profound satirist of "Police." Volume 1 includes: "His New Job," "A Night Out," "The Champion," "In the Park," "A Jitney Elopement" (all 1915).