Pre-1930s Hall of Fame II

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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, interested to see how I like it as the book bored me to death.
I never read the book but I recently watched the classic 1954 movie and I was impressed with the sets, but not the script. I haven't watched the silent version yet either.







He Who Gets Slapped (1924) well this was a pleasant little surprise, this is the story of a disgraced man who joins a circus and falls for a lady. You can clearly see the Bergman inspirations that came later with the way Victor Sjostrom shot the film often giving us these weak men with stark gorgeous shots.






This might be the finest performance I've seen from Lon Chaney which is saying something. Also unlike most of the silent films we've seen in these halls the film peaks not at the beginning but at the end.






The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

No denying that this film is powerful! I mean just look at that close-up that is packed with emotion. Scene after scene the forlorn, doomed Joan of Arc's face fills the screen with her misery...we can't escape it. It's uncomfortable watching her in such close detail as she's tormented by her over zealot Catholic persecutors. The dementedly gleeful faces of the Catholic inquisitors are just as potent. They reek of hypocrisy as they set in self serving judgement of Joan who's being persecuted for heresy. We know what horror awaits Joan at the end of the film and that makes her suffering all the worse.

A very uncomfortable watch and that's as I'm sure the director intended it to be. Because as uncomfortable as we might be, that's mere piddleness compared to Joan's torment which ends with this young girl being burnt alive by pious men.



Well, normally John Ford is hit and miss with me I don't normally like to just call a film boring but in most cases Ford's films just bore me. 3 Bad Men was an interesting watch and the best compliment I could give it was that it didn't bore me. Normally with a western for me to like it it has to have something interesting to say because Westerns are often morality tales told in period times. 3 Bad Men doesn't really have that but because it was silent I was able to get drawn more into the choices the characters made. I think the strength of the film is the visuals George Schneiderman did an exceptional job with the cinematography and that helped elevate the work.





20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

A good film should engage me. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea simply did not engage me, it didn't hold my attention through it's near two-hour span. It jumped around from plot point to plot point, but by the time the soldiers landed on the island I was near conked out. I don't know if I unconsciously missed some of the plot, but I found it super confusing, much like the book. Who are the characters? They all blur together, except for Captain Nemo. What are they purposes? They all blur together, except for Captain Nemo. So it drags on and on. There are two good things about this movie. One is the visuals. First movie filmed underwater? That's impressive, I'll say that. One of my favorite parts of the whole movie was actually unintentional. The version I watched had a soundtrack of Saint-Saens and Dvorak taped over it. The Dvorak piece it used was the New World Symphony. The last movement of that symphony is often cited as being suspiciously close to John Williams's opening theme for Jaws. So during the shark hunting scene in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, of course that movement started playing.... so it sounded like Jaws basically. Made my day! The second good thing about this movie is Captain Nemo. He looks silly, but his story is interesting.

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Pimpin' ain't easy
The Doll



Lubitsch is a highly respected director, and a director I've been up and down on. This movie was just plain bizarre with a combination of twisted and whimsical. I'd love to see an exploitation remake. The first 16 minutes was useless for me until the doll was brought up, and it ended up being an interesting watch. I wouldn't exactly say I liked it but it kept me thinking wtf.







So what do we do with a film like Battleship Potemkin this is a good film but it's a propagandist film. The entire point of a film like this is to manipulate and push for a political agenda one that ended up leading to the deaths of millions. The film is beautifully shot though it could be argued that by forgoing characters and just using ideas it's a narrative failure. Which do you end up judging the position of the film maker or the powerful imagery and works of an artist.



I adore different styles of film and the challenges that comes with creativity and franking the Odessa step scene is brutal and shocking much to me this time than when I saw it years ago. I just don't know where to rank a film of this nature.






So what do we do with a film like Battleship Potemkin this is a good film but it's a propagandist film. The entire point of a film like this is to manipulate and push for a political agenda one that ended up leading to the deaths of millions. The film is beautifully shot though it could be argued that by forgoing characters and just using ideas it's a narrative failure. Which do you end up judging the position of the film maker or the powerful imagery and works of an artist.



I adore different styles of film and the challenges that comes with creativity and franking the Odessa step scene is brutal and shocking much to me this time than when I saw it years ago. I just don't know where to rank a film of this nature.
Interesting that you talk about the propaganda, I read this on Wikipedia which helped put it into context:

“On the 20th anniversary of the first Russian revolution, commemorative Commission of the Central Executive Committee decided to stage a number of performances dedicated to the revolutionary events of 1905. In addition, as part of the celebrations was suggested a "grand film shown in a special program, with an oratory introduction, musical (solo and orchestral) and a dramatic accompaniment based on a specially written text". Nina Agadzhanova was asked to write the script and direction of the picture was assigned to 27-year-old Sergei Eisenstein.”

So just to be fair, it wasn’t the directors vision/position, it was more that he was assigned to directing this. For having such a topic as communist propaganda and power of the masses, I think Eisenstein did an incredible job with not only technical mastery but a legitimately interesting plot. The message for him seems to be in the background, although he couldn’t make that too clear as Stalin’s administration was likely shadowing his every move.



Well that's kinda the problem isn't it. The director was limited based on what the state wanted to see in their film and how does one judge a film like this. Remember what you said about Wizards last month...


. I hated the "lost footage" that was used, it's a cop-out when films do that to make their themes clear. It still would have been very obvious what Bakshi was trying to say without needing that live action part. ]

Wizards separated the propaganda and repurposed it to make a different movie that you felt was to obvious. Yet here we have a propagandist film and your asking the reviewers to separate the auteur from the work even though the auteur had a very major role in creating the propaganda.


Don't forget this film is very similar to Birth of a Nation though instead of focusing on "mixed" northerns raping white women this film was about Orthodox Christian Ukrainians murdering babies, children and old ladies...though it's a far better shot scene.


I am somewhat conflicted with judging this art.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?



7th Heaven

Chico: Don't you want to marry me?
Diane: But you never said... you love me. Couldn't you say it - just once?
Chico: I can't say it! It's too silly. [walks around the room]
Chico: Well, this way then... Chico - Diane - Heaven!
Diane: Say it again! Say it again!

Like all of my noms for this HoF and it's predecessor, this was a blind grab. I had been curious about it since watching the remake from the thirties with James Stewart and Simone Simon that I just adored:


That curiosity got the better of me after watching the stars of this film, Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell in the previous HoF in Lucky Stars. Even though I had ranked it low due to so many other amazing films, I just had to see the two of them in a story I had found completely enchanting with Stewart and Simon. While at the same time curious to see if it was going to be like when I watched Pépé le Moko having loved the remake (which I had no idea WAS a remake) Algiers, until coming across the original.

Well, it was just like that.
Almost exactly.

Where I was completely captivated by the actress in the remakes there was NO denying the actresses in the original.
Same with the leading men. Putting the other to shame and giving the character FAR more depth than the remake could. Which says a lot for Farrell out acting Stewart. But he did. Or rather, the character was definitely more personified by Farrell than Stewart - well, being Stewart. Whom I love when Stewart is Stewart in so many films, but Farrell WAS Chico. Pure and simple.
The cinematography was pretty close in comparison as well, but I do believe this version had a more realistic feel to the sets and definitely expanded on the time at war where the remake simply showed Stewart on a set, outside a barracks, while this had some pretty impressive battle scenes. Including an amusing bit involving French taxis commandeered to get soldiers to a battle.
Even though, in the ending, as the light broke through and shined directly upon them was a little cornball, my heart still smiled watching it.
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So what do we do with a film like Battleship Potemkin this is a good film but it's a propagandist film. The entire point of a film like this is to manipulate and push for a political agenda one that ended up leading to the deaths of millions...
Everything in a way is propaganda, of one sort or another. All movies seek to impart some sort of feeling or message to the viewer. Indeed when we review films we seek to influence or propaganda others. You of course can vote any movie in an HoF as you see fit, the decision is up to you.

It was the communist revolution that caused the death of millions
It was a sadistic madman who seized power, Joseph Stalin. He caused those millions of deaths. Had Lenin lived longer the dream of equality among peoples might have been achieved by the Soviet Union.

Battleship Potemkin (1925)
...I'm sure some will complain that this is heavy handed propaganda. But that's what makes the film so special. It's a window back into an important period of human history. This 1925 film tells of the 1905 mutiny aboard the Czar's naval ship. But in a much broader scope it glorifies the efforts of Russian serfs, who were throwing off their yokes of servitude. The people are embracing a revolution that promised to free mankind once and for all, by delivery equality. And in 1925 the promise that Soviet communism brought to the downtrodden masses was still heady with optimism...




7th Heaven
Even though, in the ending, as the light broke through and shined directly upon them was a little cornball, my heart still smiled watching it.
I thought you'd like it. I did too, so did my wife. It's her favorite so far in this HoF.



Well that's kinda the problem isn't it. The director was limited based on what the state wanted to see in their film and how does one judge a film like this. Remember what you said about Wizards last month...


. I hated the "lost footage" that was used, it's a cop-out when films do that to make their themes clear. It still would have been very obvious what Bakshi was trying to say without needing that live action part. ]

Wizards separated the propaganda and repurposed it to make a different movie that you felt was to obvious. Yet here we have a propagandist film and your asking the reviewers to separate the auteur from the work even though the auteur had a very major role in creating the propaganda.


Don't forget this film is very similar to Birth of a Nation though instead of focusing on "mixed" northerns raping white women this film was about Orthodox Christian Ukrainians murdering babies, children and old ladies...though it's a far better shot scene.


I am somewhat conflicted with judging this art.
Not quite sure what you’re trying to compare with Wizards... I found that film to be super on the nose with its message but unlike Battleship Potemkin it didn’t have the visual and technical excellence to excuse it. I also think Potemkin is more historically significant. Also Birth of a Nation was shot in free America where filmmakers could do anything (with some cultural limits of course).



Not quite sure what you’re trying to compare with Wizards... I found that film to be super on the nose with its message but unlike Battleship Potemkin it didn’t have the visual and technical excellence to excuse it. I also think Potemkin is more historically significant. Also Birth of a Nation was shot in free America where filmmakers could do anything (with some cultural limits of course).

Both films are about propaganda, one is a discussion while the other is a product. Potemkim certainly has a visual and technical accomplishments but it also has clear messaging which is an issue.




It was a sadistic madman who seized power, Joseph Stalin. He caused those millions of deaths. Had Lenin lived longer the dream of equality among peoples might have been achieved by the Soviet Union.

Stalin wasn't in power when the film was made, however the Ukrainian genocide occurred 7 year later and killed tens of millions of people. So you've got an issue with the effectiveness of said propaganda.



I think the context of the work is important just don't know how it affects my judgement of the film as a whole.



Not quite sure what you’re trying to compare with Wizards... I found that film to be super on the nose with its message but unlike Battleship Potemkin it didn’t have the visual and technical excellence to excuse it. I also think Potemkin is more historically significant. Also Birth of a Nation was shot in free America where filmmakers could do anything (with some cultural limits of course).

Both films are about propaganda, one is a discussion while the other is a product. Potemkim certainly has a visual and technical accomplishments but it also has clear messaging which is an issue.
Propaganda - “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.”
In my opinion both Wizards and Potemkin are propaganda. Sure, Wizards’s message may be more relevant and true in today’s world, but both are clear propaganda and I’ll take the one that’s more historically and technically important. But opinion is opinion, I can see where you’re coming from about Potemkin.





7th Heaven



This is one of those films that I appreciated more than I liked. Lucky Star was a smaller film that looked so good while this is the next step and it's bigger and it looks good at times. This is afterall a film with a flamethrower battalion and that's just cool to see. The problem with the film is that the narrative just didn't suck me in the story felt like a bit of a slough and was perhaps not focused on it's stronger points.



What I liked about the film is that it got stronger as the story went on, Borzage is a fantastic director and I love the deep composition of each shot it feels like if you pan the camera over you'll have another war scene somewhere else.





The Doll



Lubitsch is a highly respected director, and a director I've been up and down on. This movie was just plain bizarre with a combination of twisted and whimsical. I'd love to see an exploitation remake. The first 16 minutes was useless for me until the doll was brought up, and it ended up being an interesting watch. I wouldn't exactly say I liked it but it kept me thinking wtf.