Wednesday, January 26, 2011

End Of The Line

Jesse Walker has chosen his top film from 1910 and 1920.

1910's is The Automatic Moving Company.  Haven't seen it.

1920's is Robert Wiene's The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari.  This is one of those "classics" I don't think much of.  I'm sure it was very refreshing back then, but the expressionism hasn't worn well (and I'm still bothered by the ending where the fantasy is over but the sets remain the same).

Hollywood had taken over the flim world by this point, and I wonder if this is the start of "art" films coming from elsewhere.  (Of course, before too long most of the greatest talents in Germany would migrate to America.)  Even if so, Hollywood was turning out great stuff by 1920.  You've got John Barrymore in Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde.  Mary Pickford has a defining role in Pollyanna.  D. W. Griffith made Way Down East with Lillian Gish.  Fatty Arbuckle did something different in The Round-Up.  Rudolph Valentino was almost a star with Stolen Moments.  Best of all, Douglas Fairbanks made a fine comedy, The Mollycoddle, followed by the film that turned his career around and may be his best, The Mark Of Zorro.

As far as the great clowns, I'm sure Jesse is glad to hear Chaplin sat out 1920 (or actually was shooting The Kid and having serious personal and legal problems).  Meanwhile, Harold Lloyd came back from blowing up his hand and turned out one classic short after another, including An Eastern Westerner and High And Dizzy.  Buster Keaton was even more amazing.  Let's ignore his first feature (he rented himself out for The Saphead, which is more in the Fairbanks vein) and his last great short with Arbuckle, The Garage. This is the year he got his own studio and started an amazing run.  Before 1920 was out, he'd release One Week, Convict 13, Neighbors and The Scarecrow.  (He also made The High Sign but saved it for later.)

So that's Hollywood.  But Caligari isn't even my favorite German film from 1920.  I like Der Golem better.  I also prefer Lubitsch's Sumurun and Anna Boleyn.

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