2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Over the Top
boblipton from New York City
1 October 2009
SILAS MARNER would be a difficult movie to film today because of the
inherent spiritual and religious issues that underlie its plot.
Nominally it should have been possible to do better in 1916. However,
this version is pretty much played for straight melodrama, courtesy of
a script by Philip Lonergan, who certainly had a taste for it as
evidenced by his other work at Thanhouser.
Usually the Broadway actors who appeared in Thanhouser's movies
actually had a fairly good idea of how to act on film: they would
simply give their stage-style performances, but considerably toned
down. At first, Frederick Warde, in the title role, begins in this
manner, but as soon as Silas is in another town, embittered, he pulls
out all stops. He leers at coins and wrings his hands. He grimaces
continually and simply plays it like he is thinking about how he would
play the villain in BLUE JEANS on its next tour in the sticks.
This overacting is a problem with all the medium shots and close-ups.
The group compositions come off better. The actors are not ungenerous
with each other, and Thanhouser's unnamed cameraman shows his typical
skill with composition and irising and, as usual, no money was spared
on sets or costumes. But they cannot make this a good picture.
Thanhouser had already passed its peak and would collapse the following
year. It had already become a back number.
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