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Desert-Set Adventure Movie Filled with Unsavory Characters Dares to Posit Ancient Philosophical Question

Desert-Set Adventure Movie Filled with Unsavory Characters Dares to Posit Ancient Philosophical Question
Desert Nights with John Gilbert and Mary Nolan: Enjoyable Sahara-set adventure – which happened to be Gilbert's last silent film – dares to ask the age-old philosophical question, “Is there honor among thieves?” John Gilbert late silent adventure 'Desert Nights' asks a question for the ages: Is there honor among thieves? The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer release Desert Nights arrived in theaters at the tail end of the silent era. By 1929, audiences wanted lots of singing and dancing – talkies! And they might have been impatient to hear John Gilbert's speaking voice. I can't tell whether sound would have improved it or not, but Desert Nights has a lot of title cards filled with dialogue. Directed by the prolific William Nigh,[1] the film tells the story of diamond thieves who get stranded in the Sahara and almost die of thirst. (At first, Desert Nights' was appropriately titled Thirst.) Cinematographer James Wong Howe perfectly captures the hot, dry
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Grandiose Christian Epic Became Biggest Worldwide Box Office Hit Until Gwtw

Ramon Novarro: 'Ben-Hur' 1925 star. 'Ben-Hur' on TCM: Ramon Novarro in most satisfying version of the semi-biblical epic Christmas 2015 is just around the corner. That's surely the reason Turner Classic Movies presented Fred Niblo's Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ last night, Dec. 20, '15, featuring Carl Davis' magnificent score. Starring Ramon Novarro, the 1925 version of Ben-Hur became not only the most expensive movie production,[1] but also the biggest worldwide box office hit up to that time.[2] Equally important, that was probably the first instance when the international market came to the rescue of a Hollywood mega-production,[3] saving not only Ben-Hur from a fate worse than getting trampled by a runaway chariot, but also the newly formed Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which could have been financially strangled at birth had the epic based on Gen. Lew Wallace's bestseller been a commercial bomb. The convoluted making of 'Ben-Hur,' as described
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The Men Who Would Be Hughes (Plus Hepburn and the end of Rko)

Howard Hughes movies (photo: Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes in 'The Aviator') Turner Classic Movies will be showing the Howard Hughes-produced, John Farrow-directed, Baja California-set gangster drama His Kind of Woman, starring Robert Mitchum, Hughes discovery Jane Russell, and Vincent Price, at 3 a.m. Pt / 6 a.m. Et on Saturday, November 8, 2014. Hughes produced a couple of dozen movies. (More on that below.) But what about "Howard Hughes movies"? Or rather, movies -- whether big-screen or made-for-television efforts -- featuring the visionary, eccentric, hypochondriac, compulsive-obsessive, all-American billionaire as a character? Besides Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays a dashing if somewhat unbalanced Hughes in Martin Scorsese's 2004 Best Picture Academy Award-nominated The Aviator, other actors who have played Howard Hughes on film include the following: Tommy Lee Jones in William A. Graham's television movie The Amazing Howard Hughes (1977), with Lee Purcell as silent film star Billie Dove, Tovah Feldshuh as Katharine Hepburn,
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The Big Parade Blu-Ray Review

Do you remember the last time you cried at a movie? I mean, had to stop the film for a few minutes just to recover kind of crying? I had that experience watching King Vidor’s World War I epic The Big Parade, now available on a beautiful Blu-Ray from Warner Brothers.

The Big Parade is one of those epic films that silent Hollywood was well known for: sweeping vistas, massive casts, melodramatic tales of love, war, and redemption. Some of these epics fall flat now, with our contemporary need for sound, kinetic camerawork, rousing speeches and booming scores. While the score is still there – and it is booming, to say the least – The Big Parade is an intimate story surrounded by an epic event, making it one of the most affecting wartime dramas ever made.

The film follows the fortunes of spoiled rich guy Jim Apperson (John Gilbert) and
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Sexy Garbo, Wrathful Censors, the End of Stardom, and Brutal Murder: Novarro

Ramon Novarro and Greta Garbo in ‘Mata Hari’: The wrath of the censors (See previous post: "Ramon Novarro in One of the Best Silent Movies.") George Fitzmaurice’s romantic spy melodrama Mata Hari (1931) was well received by critics and enthusiastically embraced by moviegoers. The Greta Garbo / Ramon Novarro combo — the first time Novarro took second billing since becoming a star — turned Mata Hari into a major worldwide blockbuster, with $2.22 million in worldwide rentals. The film became Garbo’s biggest international success to date, and Novarro’s highest-grossing picture after Ben-Hur. (Photo: Ramon Novarro and Greta Garbo in Mata Hari.) Among MGM’s 1932 releases — Mata Hari opened on December 31, 1931 — only W.S. Van Dyke’s Tarzan, the Ape Man, featuring Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan, and Edmund Goulding’s all-star Best Picture Academy Award winner Grand Hotel (also with Garbo, in addition to Joan Crawford, John Barrymore, Wallace Beery, and
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First Latin American Hollywood Superstar Movie Marathon Today

Ramon Novarro: Mexican-born actor was first Latin American Hollywood superstar Mexican-born actor Ramon Novarro, the original Ben-Hur and one of MGM’s biggest stars of the late ’20s and early ’30s, has his Turner Classic Movies’ "Summer Under the Stars" day on Thursday, August 8, 2013. First, The Bad News: TCM will not be presenting any Ramon Novarro movie premieres. And that’s quite disappointing. (Photo: Ramon Novarro ca. 1925.) There’ll be no The Midshipman (1925), the first time Novarro was billed above the title (back then the official recognition of True Stardom) and featuring one of Joan Crawford’s earliest film appearances, or Forbidden Hours (1928), a vapid but great-looking The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg redux, with the always charming Renée Adorée as the commoner loved by His Majesty, Michael IV — that’s Novarro. Excellent prints of The Midshipman and Forbidden Hours can be found in the Warner Bros. film
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The history of MGM: the silent era

In the first part of a new series, Zoe takes a look back at the history of MGM, one of Hollywood’s oldest and most notable studios...

Studios have come and gone since the birth of cinema, and the film business is an unpredictable one, as the history of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer reveals. Founded in 1924, its name conjures up images of lavish musicals, sweeping historical epics, glamorous stars and its mascot, Leo the lion.

It’s fair to say that MGM is one of the most famous and influential studios in Hollywood, and certainly one of the most iconic studios to come out of American film industry. But where did it all begin?

The story begins in the early 1920s. Vaudeville, previously one of the most popular forms of entertainment, is beginning to dwindle, as movies capture the public’s imagination. Enter Marcus Loew, a theatre chain owner. What Loew wanted was
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Lon Chaney Movie Schedule: The Phantom Of The Opera, Tell It To The Marines, Mr. Wu

Lon Chaney on TCM: He Who Gets Slapped, The Unknown, Mr. Wu Get ready for more extreme perversity in West of Zanzibar (1928), as Chaney abuses both Warner Baxter and Mary Nolan, while the great-looking Mr. Wu (1927) offers Chaney as a Chinese creep about to destroy the life of lovely Renée Adorée — one of the best and prettiest actresses of the 1920s. Adorée — who was just as effective in her few early talkies — died of tuberculosis in 1933. Also worth mentioning, the great John Arnold was Mr. Wu's cinematographer. I'm no fan of Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), or The Phantom of the Opera (1925), but Chaney's work in them — especially in Hunchback — is quite remarkable. I mean, his performances aren't necessarily great, but they're certainly unforgettable. Chaney's leading ladies — all of whom are in love with younger, better-looking men — are Loretta Young (Laugh, Clown, Laugh), Patsy Ruth Miller
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Barbara Stanwyck's Baby Face, Ermanno Olmi's Il Posto, Renée Adorée on TCM

Barbara Stanwyck, John Wayne in Alfred E. Green's Baby Face (top); Sandro Panseri in Ermanno Olmi's Il Posto (bottom) In the next few hours, Turner Classic Movies will present one of MGM's last silent films (with synchronized score), one of the best movies of the 1960s, one of the most outrageous pre-Code releases of the early 1930s, and a documentary about the portrayal of women in pre-Code movies. All that in addition to a Wildfire vehicle and a production that sounds a lot like a (however unofficial) remake of Fred Zinnemann's The Search. Either get your various recording devices ready, or start drinking lots and lots of coffee. Starring Renée Adorée (above right), a sensational actress whose style was more naturalistic than that of most performers out there today, Tide of Empire (1929) was one of MGM's last silent-film releases. Allan Dwan, by then already a veteran, directed.
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Warner Archive Releases Lon Chaney Rarities

  • CinemaRetro
By Doug Gerbino

The Warner Archive Collection released six rare Lon Chaney, Sr. films on October 26 -- five silents and one talkie (his one and only talkie). The films are He Who Gets Slapped (1924); The Monster and The Unholy Three (both 1925); Mr. Wu and Mockery (both 1927); and The Unholy 3 (1930), the sound remake of the 1925 film with a numerical title and a different ending. Lon Chaney, Sr. was a fascinating actor. It's a shame that he is pigeon-holed as a horror star. This is due to the over-availability of two of his most famous films: Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and Phantom of the Opera (1925/29). The fact that these two films are public domain has made them the most widely available of his movies. Within recent years, Warner Home Video has been releasing some of Chaney's MGM films. In 2003, Warner Home Video and TCM released The Lon Chaney Collection, which contained three films: The Aces of Hearts,
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John Gilbert on TCM: The Big Parade, Flesh And The Devil

Renée Adorée, John Gilbert in King Vidor‘s The Big Parade (top); John Gilbert, Greta Garbo in Clarence Brown‘s Flesh and the Devil (bottom) John Gilbert on TCM: Queen Christina, Downstairs Here are my top recommendations for John Gilbert Day (in addition to Queen Christina, mentioned in the previous post): Victor Sjöström‘s touching, poetic He Who Gets Slapped (1924), which features my favorite Lon Chaney performance as a clown with a past — no, Chaney doesn’t play a politician; he’s a real circus clown. Both Gilbert and Norma Shearer are flawless in less demanding but just as memorable roles. Erich von Stroheim‘s The Merry Widow (1925), a megablockbuster that solidified Gilbert’s superstardom along with King Vidor‘s The Big Parade, released that same year. Mae Murray shines in the title role, while von Stroheim adds some welcome kinky touches. (C’mon, TCM, I know you have
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Bette Davis, Ronald Colman, Woody Allen at the Packard Campus

Ronald Colman, centenarian Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Madeleine Carroll, and Mary Astor (in the Ruritanian classic The Prisoner of Zenda); Fairbanks again, with Irene Dunne and Lucille Ball (in the not-so-classic comedy Joy of Living); Bette Davis, Monty Woolley and Ann Sheridan (in the comedy classic The Man Who Came to Dinner); John Gilbert and Renée Adorée (in the anti-war classic The Big Parade); Humphrey Bogart, Joan Bennett, and Peter Ustinov (in the demi-classic allegorical comedy We’re No Angels); Woody Allen and Diane Keaton (in the middle-age-crisis classic Manhattan); James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, and Gloria Grahame (in the horror classic It’s a Wonderful Life); Ingmar Bergman’s Oscar-winning classic Fanny and Alexander; and, inevitably, several Walt Disney classic shorts [...]
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