20 December 2010

Obligatory Christmas Post No. 2

Norma Shearer has nobody to kiss her under the mistletoe. I know I would. 

18 December 2010

Obligatory Christmas Post No. 1

Anita Page shows off her considerable, ah, Christmas cheer.

05 December 2010

Five More Movies I'd Like to See on DVD

In August of last year, I drew up a list of five films I'd like to see released on DVD. Sadly, I'm still waiting for the vast majority of them (with one quite notable exception; see the previous post). Of course, I'm not about to allow that little detail to dissuade me from making more requests.

1. Ladies of Leisure (1930)
Ladies of Leisure is the story of hard-boiled dame who becomes the muse of an idle rich painter, in the process learning that there is more to life than cigarettes and gold-digging. This was the first collaboration between director Frank Capra and actress Barbara Stanwyck -- easily one of Hollywood's most fruitful collaborations -- and indeed it deserves to be included among the best of their work together.

2. What Price Hollywood? (1932)
What Price Hollywood? is a moving juxtaposition of a director rapidly slipping into drunken decline (as played by Lowell Sherman) and the aspiring actress whom he lovingly propels to stardom (as played by Constance Bennett). Although similar in many respects to the two iterations of  A Star is Born, this film stands apart quite noticeably from those later pictures, thanks in no small part to the direction of George Cukor. Highly sympathetic performances from Sherman and Bennett add even more to the film. What Price Hollywood? was released on VHS in 1991, but a DVD release is very much in order.

3. Beverly of Graustark (1926) 
Although I haven't actually seen this film just yet, there are quite a few reasons that I would very much like to. Among these may be counted the film's two-strip technicolor final scenes, its high marks on IMDB, its appealing mise-en-scene and Marion Davies in military regalia (don't give me that look; it's hot, and you know it).

4. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921)
Considering the fact that this was the film that made Rudy Valentino a household name, it's somewhat surprising that it has not yet been released on DVD. Adapted to the screen by June Mathis and directed by Rex Ingram, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse tells the story of a family divided -- and ultimately nearly destroyed -- by the Great War (the traumatic memory of which was no doubt still quite fresh at the time of the film's release). This film absolutely floored me when I watched it, and I'm willing to bet it will have -- or has already had -- the same effect on you.

5. The Merry Widow (1925)
How well could an operetta possibly be adapted to a silent film? Extremely well, as it turns out. Great performances all around by Mae Murray, Roy D'Arcy and -- of course -- John Gilbert. In addition to that is the superb direction of Erich von Stroheim (on a much shorter leash from the MGM studio heads after the leviathan that was 1924's Greed). Part romance, part drama of royal succession, The Merry Widow is among the best films of the silent era.