What I’ll Remember About the Films of 1925: A Love Letter


My What I’ll Remember posts are an ongoing tradition. A logbook of sorts, they pay tribute to all the year-specific viewing I’ve done over the past however many months. It also stresses that, while the Top Ten list is the crux of this whole project, it’s really a means to an end. It goes without saying, but the process and journey of watching and re-watching these films is most important. I’ve recently looked back on previous What I’ll Remember posts and they evoke the feeling of a photo album, flipping through filmic memories of all shapes and sizes. Top Ten By Year: 1925 will go up late next week.

Top Ten By Year: 1925 posts so far: Movie Poster Highlights, Poll Results, Favorite Shots of 1925

Posts in the What I’ll Remember tag: 1943, 1958, 1965, 1978, 1992, 2012, 2013, 2014

johngilbertbigparade

MVP of 1925: John Gilbert (The Big Parade, The Merry Widow)

The realization that impressive craftsmanship and individual merits aside, I am very picky when it comes to silent films that captivate me as a whole…which makes me feel like a shitty cinephile. 

Favorite Characters: Jenny Hagen (Gloria Swanson; Stage Struck), Jack (William Boyd; The Road to Yesterday), Sally O’Hara (Mae Murray; The Merry Widow), Molly Helmer (Norma Shearer; Lady of the Night), Countess Elnora Natatorini (Pola Negri; A Woman of the World)

Rape, attempted rape, or the threat of rape and/or assault is almost guaranteed to crop up
(Whirlpool of Fate, Orochi, The Road to Yesterday, Variete, The Salvation Hunters, The Red Kimona, Tartuffe, The Wizard of Oz, The Joyless Street, Body and Soul, The Merry Widow, The Unholy Three, Phantom of the Opera)

Goose Woman

There’s a disturbing image for you (The Goose Woman)

Clarence Brown putting his engineering skills to use with that majestic tracking shot through a banquet table (The Eagle)

Introducing (relatively speaking): Paul Robeson, Joan Crawford, Myrna Loy, Georgia Hale (The Gold Rush, The Salvation Hunters), Constance Bennett

Introducing to Hollywood: Vilma Banky (The Eagle)

woman of the world

Pola Negri’s tattoo in A Woman of the World (:whispers: “she did it for a man she loved!”)

Least Favorite Characters: Farmhand/The Scarecrow (Harry Semon; The Wizard of Oz), Levett (Miles Mander; The Pleasure Garden), Jill Cheyne (Carmelita Geraghty; The Pleasure Garden), Ken/Lord Strangevon (Joseph Schildkraut; The Road to Yesterday), Mary Drake (Gertrude Olmstead; Cobra), Metzger von Melchiorstrasse (Werner Krauss; Joyless Street)

Lon Chaney playing a man whose love goes unrequited; how shocking! (The Unholy Three, Phantom of the Opera)

Pretending you aren’t in love with someone so they can be happy and move on (Cobra, The Unholy Three, Lady of the Night)

Red Kimona 1Tartuffe 3

Postmodernism rears its head by breaking the 4th wall in The Red Kimona and Tartuffe

The disasterpiece that is The Wizard of Oz

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari reunion! (Werner Krauss and Lil Dagover in Tartuffe)

Selection of purple prose intertitles:
“In his mind the boy divided human beings into Children of the Mud and Children of the Sun. Himself, he belonged somewhere between the two.” (A typical one in The Salvation Hunters)

“On the edge of the Grand Canyon, in the shadow of infinity” (The Road to Yesterday)

stage struck 4 200_s

Color (two-strip Technicolor or stencil) (Stage Struck, Phantom of the Opera, Cyrano de Bergerac, Ben-Hur)

The idyllic French countryside at the center of Whirlpool of Fate

The sheer spectacle of Ben-Hur

The completely unrecognized comedic stylings of Gloria Swanson. She does a wide range of physical comedy in Stage Struck, utilizing the entirety of her body and the intricacies of her face

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Larry Semon is the world’s worst-case scenario Martin Short (The Wizard of Oz)

Told in flashback: Variete, The Red Kimona

Yakov’s death in Strike

Directorial debuts (or close enough): Alfred Hitchcock, Josef von Sternberg, Jean Renoir, Lewis Milestone

50b19134f7de2afe35d72a7bf39cf4ebThe Gold Rush 1

William Boyd serving up some young Kurt Russell in The Road to Yesterday, and Georgia Hale serving young Catherine Keener in The Gold Rush

An independent message film about forced prostitution co-directed, produced and overseen by a woman, Dorothy Davenport aka ‘Mrs. Wallace Reid’ (also adapted by Dorothy Arzner!) (The Red Kimona)

10 Performances of 1925: John Gilbert (The Big Parade), Zasu Pitts (Lazybones), Charlie Chaplin (The Gold Rush), Mae Murray (The Merry Widow), Gloria Swanson (Stage Struck), Louise Dresser (The Goose Woman), Harry Earles (The Unholy Three), Norma Shearer (Lady of the Night), Georgia Hale (The Salvation Hunters), Asta Nielsen (The Joyless Street)

John Gilbert rises to stardom and meets Mae Murray as she descends from stardom (The Merry Widow)

Am I the only one who finds Charlie Chaplin the most attractive during his bread roll ballet in The Gold Rush? (P.S he’s always attractive)

Merry Widow 3

John Gilbert’s lascivious stares are both sexy, and terrifying (The Merry Widow)

Favorite intertitles:
“Doff your hat you mannerless knave!” (A typical piece of dialogue from the 17th century portion of The Road to Yesterday)

“Gudule was endowed with the ability to make a good stew while using questionable ingredients” (Whirlpool of Fate)

“A gentleman’s relation to a lady is indicated by the manner in which he rings her doorbell” (Lady Windermere’s Fan)

“Martha Tuttle was one of those mother hens who clucked long after the deed was done” (Lazybones)

“I will only marry a man of great deeds and strange experiences – a man who can look death in the face without flinching!” – Miss White, who might be single for a very long time, oh wait except she’s married by the end of the film (The Lost World)

Phantom of the Opera 1 Phantom of the Opera 2 Phantom of the Opera 3

Don’t ask me why, but I live for scenarios like this (above) (Phantom of the Opera)

Lazybones making what is on paper a really queasy central romance into something delicate and beautiful

Mads’s stony face remains in tact as her son throws all manner of clothes at and past her in Master of the House

The incredible aerial shot fight scene at the end of Orochi

The innovative model animation of the dinosaurs in The Lost World

stage struck

The unbearable cuteness of Gloria Swanson’s Jenny having regular conversations and role plays with a stuffed dog named Flea (Stage Struck)

Photographed by the incomparable Karl Freund! (Variete and Tartuffe)

The Goose Woman, just one example of ceilings visible in the frame before Citizen Kane

The romantic interest of Stage Struck; wheat cake extraordinaire Orme Wilson who is obsessed with actresses and says things like “You oughta see her – she’s the Duke’s mixture” and “You’re about as funny as a murder”

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Why yes, that is a duck projectile vomiting (The Wizard of Oz)

Emil Jannings as the eternal fool? Yes. But you expect me to buy him as a fucking trapeze artist? Girl. Sorry. Next. (Variete)

Slow motion in Whirlpool of Fate, The Joyless Street, The Unholy Three, The Merry Widow, Phantom of the Opera

The proto-Cocteau dream sequence in Whirlpool of Fate

Discovering the greatness of character actress Louise Dresser (The Eagle, The Goose Woman)

Red Kimona 2battleshippotemkin2

Walter Lang, Dorothy Davenport, and Sergei Eisenstein have you beat by 69 years Steven Spielberg (The Red Kimona, Battleship Potemkin)

Can the lost art of the then-ubiquitous visual of aggressively intimate head-on close-ups be resurrected? I miss it so (literally all the movies)

Largely forgotten vamps/’exotic’ types of the day: Nita Naldi (Cobra), Lya De Putti (Variete)

Cobra

Women are Cobras! Get it? (Cobra)

Based on a play: Cobra, Lady Windermere’s Fan, Tartuffe, Cyrano de Bergerac, Master of the House

Pair The Goose Woman with Frank Capra’s Lady for a Day for two very different films about down-on-their-luck alcoholic older women

Masquerading religious ‘devotees’ (Tartuffe, Body and Soul)

big parade pic A

Meet cutes don’t get cuter than this (The Big Parade)

Playing two characters (Paul Robeson in Body and Soul, everyone in The Road to Yesterday, Norma Shearer in Lady of the Night)

Costume Highlights:

The first year in the career of legendary fashion designer Adrian (The Eagle, The Road to Yesterday, Cobra, Her Sister from Paris)

The Eagle

Vilma Banky’s pearl headdress in The Eagle

Gloria Swanson -1927-Stage Struck

Gloria Swanson’s outfits in the Technicolor dream sequence in Stage Struck

Lady of the Night 6
Look at those pockets!!!!!!

Lady of the Night 1 Lady of the Night 3

Pretty much everything Norma Shearer wears in Lady of the Night

Merry Widow 9 Lady of the Night 5stage struck 3

I miss elaborate head-pieces (The Eagle, Lady of the Night, Stage Struck, The Merry Widow)

Joyless Street 5

Tamara Geva’s coat in Die freudlose Gasse (The Joyless Street)

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