Site Info: I’ll Be Participating In the Classic Movie History Project Blogathon. Yay!

So I just got invited by Fritzi over at Movies, Silently to participate in the upcoming Classic Movie History Project Blogathon, which she is hosting along with the good folks at Silver Screenings and Once Upon a Screen. As she says in her announcement,

I firmly believe that there is a little bit of the historian in every classic movie fan. After all, we love films that were made before we were even a gleam in our father’s eye. Well, here’s our chance to collaborate on a project celebrating the history of motion pictures

Most movie blogathons center around actors, topics, genres or eras of film. This event is going to focus on individual years. Our range is 1915 to 1950. Participants will each focus on one individual year in the history of film. The event will be held January 12-14, 2014.

This one looks like its going to be a lot of fun. Rather than pick a year myself, I asked Fritzi to just assign me a year, and  the one she gave me was 1920 which is chock full of true classics of the silent era: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Golem, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Way Down East, The Mark of Zorro, Outside the Law, The Son of Tarzan, and lots more.

I haven’t decided yet exactly how I’m going to approach this, but I do know that I’m in for lots of fun silent film watching between now and the new year. Oh, and if you have any suggestions for not-to-be-missed films from 1920 or other things that I might want to look for or think about, I’d love to see your suggestions in the comments below. And of course, I’ll be giving you more details, and a link to the list of all the participating blogs, as the dates get closer.

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31 Days of Halloween – 017: Nosferat-who?

October marches on, and so does our countdown to All Hallows Eve. This year, rather than trying to do a full 31 film reviews or something truly time-consuming like that, most of what I’m going to be posting are favorite trailers, short films, some full-length movies, and other items just to kind of help get everyone in the spirit of what really is one of my favorite holidays.

nos12David Kalat has posted a very interesting article over at the Movie Morlocks page at TCM. Me. Kalat is a well known author on the subject of horror and has also contributed to a number of commentaries on horror films on DVD and Blu-ray, including a commentary track that will be featured on the upcoming Masters of Cinema Blu-ray release of F.W. Murnau‘s celebrated 1922 film Nosferatu.

The article is actually an expansion of one of the ideas that he presents in the course of that commentary track: specifically that while Murnau, as director, obviously brought a lot to the making of the movie, he may be being given much more credit than he deserves in the creation and especially the look and feel of the film, and that much more of that acclaim should actually go to the man credited for art and costumes on the film, Albin Grau.

Kalat relates not only the “story behind the story” that highly influenced this version of the classic vampire tale, but presents a history of Grau that establishes his role in the film’s creation much more as what would today be credited as a “producer” instead of the “art designer” that most people think of him as – if they even think of him at all.

It’s a fascinating article and is filled with some great artwork, and is one that I would even say should be required reading for any fan of the film. The entire article can be found here.

And, just in case there is anyone who hasn’t actually seen the film, or if you simply want to watch this masterpiece again (and it really is one of those films that both deserves and rewards repeated viewings) here is a beautifully restored version:

So, in a case like this what do you think? Movies obviously are often the product of a shared vision, and it really does take more than one person to bring them to the screen. And all too often there are behind the scenes people who deserve much more credit than film history gives them. Do you know of any other stories like this? Let me know either in the comments below, or over on the Durnmoose Movies Facebook page which can be found here.

31 Days of Halloween – 016: The Unknown (1927)

October marches on, and so does our countdown to All Hallows Eve. This year, rather than trying to do a full 31 film reviews or something truly time-consuming like that, most of what I’m going to be posting are favorite trailers, short films, some full-length movies, and other items just to kind of help get everyone in the spirit of what really is one of my favorite holidays.

PosterunknownusxLet’s use the wayback machine for today’s Halloween countdown post and trek all the way back to the silent film era for Tod Browning‘s team-up with Lon Chaney Sr. for The Unknown. This little seen film may very well rank both as Browning’s creepiest movie and his strangest (and it’s certainly in a way his saddest), and that’s saying quite a bit when you’re talking about the man who directed not only Universal’s Dracula in 1931, but also the uniquely disturbing Freaks.

By the way, I should also note that alongside Chaney, the film also features a very young (and at times rather scantily-clad)  Joan Crawford as Chaney’s assistant and love interest, a role of which she was quoted as saying “It was then I became aware for the first time of the difference between standing in front of a camera, and acting.”.

I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of this particular score, but it was the best option I could find.

So, what are your favorite silent horrors? Let me know either in the comments below, or over on the Durnmoose Movies Facebook page which can be found here.

31 Days of Halloween – 014: Tol’able Tingler

October marches on, and so does our countdown to All Hallows Eve. This year, rather than trying to do a full 31 film reviews or something truly time-consuming like that, most of what I’m going to be posting are favorite trailers, short films, some full-length movies, and other items just to kind of help get everyone in the spirit of what really is one of my favorite holidays.

Today’s feature in the countdown isn’t really a horror film in itself, but sort of a side-note. It’s a look at one of those “movie within a movie” moments.

Tol'able_David-PosterI recently had a chance to revisit the 1959 William Castle film The Tingler on the big screen thanks to a Vincent Price retrospective which is going on at our local “arthouse” theater. In the movie, Phillip Coolige plays the owner of a theater which only shows silent films. Presumably this set-up was used because it allowed Castle to take advantage of the public domain status of these films so that he wouldn’t have to pay for the rights and could have something to actually run on the screen for scenes shot in the theater. The film that he is running is noted on the marquee as being called Tol’able David, and i became intrigued as to whether this was a real movie or just something Castle created.

It turns out that Tol’able David is an actual silent from 1921, and was actually quite a hit back in its day. It was directed by Henry King, and stars Richard Barthelmess, Gladys Hulette, and Walter P. Lewis. Here’s the plot description from Wikipedia:

Young David Kinemon, son of West Virginia tenant farmers, longs to be treated like a man by his family and neighbors, especially Esther Hatburn, the pretty girl who lives with her grandfather on a nearby farm. However, he is continually reminded that he is still a boy, “tol’able” enough, but no man.

Annex - Cromwell, Richard (Tol'able David)_02He eventually gets a chance to prove himself when outlaw Iscah Hatburn and his sons Luke and “Little Buzzard,” distant cousins of the Kinemon’s Hatburn neighbors, move into the Hatburn farm, against the will of Esther and her grandfather. Esther initially tells David not to interfere, saying he’s no match for her cousins. Later, the cousins kill David’s pet dog and cripple his older brother while the latter is delivering mail and taking passengers to town in his “hack” wagon. David’s father sets out to administer vigilante justice on the Hatburn cousins (the sheriff doesn’t have the means to deal with the outlaws himself), but has a heart attack. David is determined to go after the Hatburns in his father’s place, but his mother talks him out of it, arguing that with his father dead and brother crippled, the household, including his brother’s wife and infant son, depends on him. The family is then turned out of the farm and are forced to move into a small house in town. David asks for his brother’s old job of driving the hack but is told he is too young. He does find work at the general store though. Later, when the hack’s regular driver is fired for drunkenness, David finally has a chance to drive the hack. He loses the mailbag near the Hatburn farm, where it is found by Luke. David goes to the Hatburn farm to demand the mailbag. He is refused and gets into an argument with the cousins, during which he is shot in the arm. David then shoots Iscah and the younger son and later, after a prolonged fight with the older brother (meant to recall the story of David and Goliath), emerges victorious. Esther flees for help and makes it to the village, telling that David has been killed. As a crowd prepares to go look for David, he although injured, arrives in the hack with the bag of mail. It is clear to all that David, no longer merely “tol’able,” is a real man and a hero.

Go ahead and take a look for yourself:

So, how about other “movie within a movie mpments? Any favorites?  Let me know either in the comments below, or over on the Durnmoose Movies Facebook page which can be found here.

Short Film Wednesday 007 – The Old Chair (2012)

If it seems too good to be true…

The Old Chair was directed by Drew Daywalt and stars AJ Bowen, Kaylee Score, Maria Olsen, and Jonica Patella It also features some pretty effective creature FX by Melissa Anchondo and Jeff Farley.

31 Days of Halloween – 006: Nosferatu (1922) Newly Restored, Heading To Theaters – Here’s The Trailer

October marches on, and so does our countdown to All Hallows Eve. This year, rather than trying to do a full 31 film reviews or something truly time-consuming like that, most of what I’m going to be posting are favorite trailers, short films, some full-length movies, and other items just to kind of help get everyone in the spirit of what really is one of my favorite holidays.

Simply put, this is one of those things that makes me go “Oh please! Oh, please! Oh, please!”

Unfortunately, so far I’ve had no indication of when this release will hit US theaters, Masters of Cinema and Eureka being UK-based, but I’m sure it will eventually make at least some US screens. And you can be sure when it does, I’ll pass the info along.

So I’m inspired by this to ask what your favorite horror from the silent era is. Let me know either in the comments below, or over on the Durnmoose Movies Facebook page which can be found here.

Short Film Wednesday 005 – That Fatal Sneeze (1907)

I suppose you could say that back in the day when one-reelers were the standard, most films were “short films”. After all, when you’re limited to around eight minutes per reel, you really have to make all of them count. So I thought that today we’d take a look at one of those. This silent is entitled “That Fatal Sneeze” and was directed by Lewin Fitzhamon. It’s the story of what happens when a boy decides to get revenge on an older man who pranks him with sneezing powder. This particular version comes with a live soundtrack preformed by Simon Jones on piano, Phil Morton on can and guitar, and Adam Webster on cello as part of BBC Radio Merseyside’s Unsilent Night.