Category Archives: Drama

Mister Roberts

Mister Roberts PosterTypically, I don’t say a lot of negative things about the movies I watch. Since I watch classic movies and silent films, the sometimes over one-hundred year old use-by date doesn’t leave a lot of unknowns. And if  a “classic” movie doesn’t sound like something I want to see, I just skip it and move onto the other roughly billion or so old movies in my queue. So it was a weird and convoluted set of circumstances that led me to watch Mister Roberts, which is fitting because – wow -this is a weird and convoluted movie. Picture this… Read the rest of this entry

Five Star Final

Five Star Final PosterIt’s tough to pass up a movie made in 1931 starring Edward G. Robinson as a fast talking newsman. Five Star Final, directed by Mervyn LeRoy, does not disappoint, but it does surprise. This pre-code gem takes an unflinching look at the yellow tabloid journalism rampant in its own day and the ways in which the press ran rough shod over the public in the name of news (read, circulation). This is, of course, not an unfamiliar debate even today (hello, Murdoch). Read the rest of this entry

Jackie Coogan in The Rag Man (1925)

Jackie Coogan - The Rag ManIf charm and a certain preternatural precociousness are the currency of a great child actor, then Jackie Coogan was a very rich little boy in the 1920’s. Best known as Charlie Chaplin’s sidekick in The Kid. Coogan was a meteoric success in the silent era. As with Shirley Temple a few years later, movie-goers couldn’t get enough of that round little face and that street urchin spunk. But alas… child actors have a very short shelf life and as he grew older Coogan fell out of audience favor. Coupled with the usual tragic tales of parental misuse of his wealth, Coogan struggled for acting work post WWII and landed mostly on television. But let’s rewind to 1925, when Coogan was still the boy king of the box office and delighting audiences with classic silents like The Rag Man. Read the rest of this entry

The Scarlet Letter (1926)

The Scarlet Letter - 1926 - Pretty Clever FilmsAfter being a bit bamfoozled by The Phantom Carriage, I was excited when TCM aired another Victor SjöströmSjostrom movie, The Scarlet Letter, for “Silent Sundays.” As I was left feeling flummoxed by the praise heaped on The Phantom Carriage, I was eager to watch another Sjöström (though, this being one of his Hollywood efforts, he directed as the Anglicized Victor Seastrom) film, and I counted it as a bonus that this one is based on a classic American novel and starred the always riveting Lillian Gish. The Scarlet Letter did not disappoint and left me far better informed about the subtleties of Sjostrom’s direction. Read the rest of this entry

The Phantom Carriage (1921)

the phantom carriage dvd coverTCM screened Victor Sjöström’s The Phantom Carriage (1921) as part of the regular “Silent Sunday Nights” feature last week. While the movie’s title seems to promise a Nosferatu-like, mid-silent period creep fest it instead delivers  a melodramatic morality tale about specific social ills of the day – alcohol abuse, domestic violence, the contagion of consumption. Viewers will likely observe a narrative similarity to Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol, but The Phantom Carriage is distinctly Swedish. The script is based on the novel Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness! by Nobel-prize winning Swedish author Selma Lagerlöf, who was specifically commissioned by a Swedish association to write about tuberculosis and its prevention. Read the rest of this entry

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