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TCM premiered this Ramon Novarro - Enid Bennett silent film, The Red
Lily, on March 26, 2006. The print was very good to excellent,
switching from black and white to an orange tint for night scenes. The
new musical score by Scott Salinas, who did the new score for Lon
Chaney's Laugh, Clown, Laugh was very fine, and appropriate for the
mood of the film.
It was a pleasure to see a silent film with Enid Bennett. She was married to the director, Fred Niblo, and she obviously worked well with him. Not too many of her silent films survive or are available for viewing. Her performance was exceptional here and reminded me of Lillian Gish in The Scarlet Letter. Ramon Novarro had a real juicy part he could sink his teeth into, and he gave an outstanding performance, one year before his starring role in 1925's Ben-Hur, A Tale of the Christ. Wallace Beery does well with a supporting role as a gambling friend of Ramon's character.
The plot revolves around a couple who had been childhood sweethearts. When the girl's father dies she is sent to live with relatives who abuse her. Rushing back home to a deserted house she meets up with her young lover and they fall asleep in front of the fireplace together. When confronted the next morning by the townsfolk they flee to Paris. A set of ironic circumstances separate them and life takes its toll on both of them.
I definitely recommend that you see The Red Lily. I wish all silent films could receive such nice restorations and musical treatments.
The plot strains credulity and Novarro's character changes his mind without conviction (other than this is what the script dictates)at least once. And it's melodramatic, depending on the kind of mischance that drives a Thomas Hardy novel. Enid Bennett is no Lillian Gish -- Bennett does not demonstrate that subtle shift in emotion and attitude that makes Gish so great -- although the changes in Bennett's makeup are remarkable. She does, finally, revert to "Angel Face." That said, this is a classic silent film. It uses a minimum of title cards. Its shots are beautifully designed. It has a neat repeat of the beginning in the ending -- with the exception that Wallace Beery's Bo Bo is involved in the latter. He's the only one who seems to grasp what a close call the lovers have just had. The final scene becomes a visual summary of the film. One moment -- when Bennett lights a candle on the fireplace of her former home and the tint immediately becomes orange --is breathtaking. The Paris depicted is that of Victor Hugo -- no grand vistas or broad boulevards, but cul de sacs, hovels, brothels, the sewers, and the constant pursuit of avenging gendarmes. The film demonstrates why these films packed movie houses and why they are still so much more worth watching than 90 % of "talkies."
Emotional tale which starts in a small village in Britanny where lives
a young couple, Jean (played by Ramon Novarro) and Marise (Enid
Bennett), childhood sweethearts who are torn apart when her father dies
suddenly. Impoverished and alone, she must go to live with her next of
kin - a poor and unfriendly family including drunken husband, haggardly
wife, and lot of dirty, small children. The man, a raging hothead,
chases after the poor girl, almost with gleeful evil, with a whip 'til
she runs off seeking refuge in her old, abandoned home. Luckily her
handsome beau loves her and takes her away to start a new life together
in Paris. Unfortunately, through circumstances, they are separated and
can't find each other - and thus follows the story of life and what
happens to each of them in the big, bad, crime-ridden city.
An emotionally charged film throughout, brightly tinted in part with shades of browns, reds, and oranges, and with striking photography in places, especially noticeable the interesting shots taken into and out through windows and such. The music score that accompanies this film is really excellent, completely suits the mood of the story, and, I thought, enhanced the film. The acting is well-done - actress Enid Bennett reminded me, both in appearance and acting style, of Lillian Gish. Of course, Ramon Novarro looks very, very handsome, as usual, and Wallace Beery appears as his usual smarmy self. This is a terrific silent film, I loved it.
This is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. I have never been a silent film fan,until now. This was the first silent film I actually watched until the end. The story could have easily turned into melodrama and soap opera. But it was expertly written, with just the right romantic and dramatic nuances. It is a classic story, encompassing the many trials and tribulations of love. Both Enid Bennet and Ramon Novarro were amazing as the two romantic lead characters. The range of emotions that shown on both their faces was remarkable. The newly composed musical score was both classic and contemporary,adding to the beautiful tapestry of this film classic.
The Red Lily is the story of a boy (Ramon Novarro) and a girl (Enid
Bennett) who fall in love. His father does not approve of their
potentially marrying because she is poor and has lost her father.
However, the two plan to wed anyway and the father disowns his son.
Problems arise with the father that tears them apart, often just steps
away from finding each other but to no avail. Their lives change
drastically in the process, the girl turning to prostitution to make a
living and the boy teaming up with a thief named Bobo (Wallace Beery)
and running from the law.
The plot of the film is brilliantly done; there is plenty of tension throughout the film which puts the audience's emotions into overdrive. The film was shot extremely well; every frame is a work of art. The tinting is not overdone at all either. The characters are very likable, thanks to the wonderful acting by the cast. Bennett is appropriately tragic and sweet, but not in a bland way. She makes a very traditional role into something special. Novarro is great making his transition from a devoted protector to a paranoid hardened man of the streets. Beery is at his best here; every expression is a delight to watch. He balances humor and sincerity very well.
Scott Salinas provides a gorgeous and perfect score for the TCM presentation of the film. He truly understand the art of bringing emotion to a scene; he managed to make every note blend excellently with the fabric of the story.
This is silent movie making at its best, and thanks to an awesome restoration, new audiences can begin to appreciate Hollywood history.
Despite having been given only a "two star" rating by our local
newspaper, I decided to watch this recent addition to the TCM
collection anyway and I'm glad I did. Although the story does not
always flow smoothly and there are flaws in the narrative, The Red Lily
is a beautifully told, emotionally driven, story with excellent acting
by the three leads -- Enid Bennett; Ramon Novarro,who in this picture
again shows what a fine actor he was; and, Wallace Beery providing some
comic relief in what is until the very end essentially a tragic tale.
It is Bennett who makes this movie work. She is outstanding in her portrayal of a girl who is transformed from a naive peasant to a harsh and bitter "lady of the streets." This transformation is convincingly done, partly through her physical change, but more importantly through Bennett's skill as an actress. As another commenter has noted, her resemblance to Lillian Gish in physical appearance (except in profile), mannerisms, and acting style is uncanny. That alone is praise enough for any actress.
The direction by Fred Niblo, who was Bennett's husband, is nearly flawless with Niblo using innovative shots, creative lighting, and tinting to reinforce his story. The new musical score is superb and truly enhances the movie.
The Red lily is definitely worth watching even if you are not a fan of the Golden Age of Silents.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of my favorite silents I've seen, and while the other
describes it pretty well, the ending is typically "Happy ever after".
Going home the hero, with the new bride and all is happy and light.
That said, the acting is indeed wonderful and not full of fluff of the 20's one would expect. Usually I don't sit on the edge of my seat, but this one did a wonderful job of pulling you in with the characterization.
The imagery is some of the finest I've seen in a silent, and they use it to full advantage here, using light and shadows to create the atmosphere and they use it well, instead of showing the police with guns, you get the shadow coming out, and you do get the idea that fate is looming over the hero.
TCM has given back what has been a lost gem of the silent era. If you get a chance to watch it, it's one not to miss.
Two young people Jean (Ramon Novarro) and Marise (Enid Bennett) are in
love but too young to marry. They go to Paris hoping to get married
there. While in Paris they both get separated. Jean becomes a hardened
criminal hunted by the police. Marise becomes drug addicted and a
prostitute (implied). Will they ever see each other and what will
become of them?
This seems to have been a lost film until TCM showed it a few days ago. It's beautifully restored with a tinted print and a brand new (and quite impressive) music score. The acting and direction are excellent. Novarro is just stunning--a very beautiful man and quite an actor. It's easy to see why he was so popular in his day. Bennett is likewise beautiful and ALMOST as good as Novarro (she was a little too goody-goody for me at the beginning). When the two of their lives fall apart it's incredible. They don't just act different, they LOOK different (Bennett especially). It's really heartbreaking to see what happens to these two innocent kids. I missed the very end (it ran longer than TCM had listed) but my guess is that it wasn't happy! UPDATE: I saw the whole thing and it does give us a happy (it totally unbelievable) ending.
A very impressive silent film. Well worth catching.
In the silent year of 1925, Herr Fred Niblo directed Herr Novarro in
"Ben-Hur", a colossal silent film production that made its way into
film history for its magnificence and grandiloquence, but just one year
before, both director and actor worked together in a modest, small
silent film production as magnificent in its way as "Ben-Hur"; you only
have to change ancient Rome for Paris and you have "The Red Lily".
"The Red Lily" is a superb silent film that must be recovered from oblivion for the joy of silent fan crowds around the world ( nowadays a more easy task since the longhaired people at "Warner" decided to open up their archive vaults ). The film is a small piece that highlights the virtues of silent cinema in which the complications of human nature play the lead in the film. It's a beautiful and sorrowful love story that defies destiny and moves the audience in an irresistible way.
The love story between the Major's son Jean ( Herr Ramon Novarro ) and the cobbler's daughter Marise ( Dame Enid Bennett ) will have to overcome difficult and terrible circumstances. As a German saying says "when you think that things are bad, they get worse" and that it is what happens during the whole film until a happy ending will finally bring the couple together. Set in French Brittany, social prejudices and an unjust robbery accusation will send Jean and Marise to Paris, a big city where the love of our sweethearts will suffer a terrible turning point in their lives.
Herr Niblo's superb film direction shows the fragility, uncertainty and changeability of the inner human sentiments of our heroes; they will suffer despair and hate, helplessness together in squalid conditions and, worst of all, broken dreams. Jean and Marise suffer their special "Way of the Cross" depicted on the screen by Herr Niblo with a deep, painful sorrow. It's a private tragedy full of deception that rules the lives of our heroes in which it seems that destiny is continuously sneering at them.
Astounding and remarkable is the performance of Dame Bennett in her role of Marise, one of those classical heroines of silent films; her transformation from a mild peasant to a prostitute is brilliant, an excellent example of the greatness of silent pictures and superior actresses, in which a look, a timid gesture, a cry for help, can still move longhaired audiences to trembling even today.
The film is perfectly set in different surroundings; from the Brittany provincialism and their peculiar peasants and prejudices to the Paris slums full of decadent and distinctive characters. Besides exceptional art direction you also have the great cinematography of Herr Victor Milner; it's luminous and hopeful in Brittany and gloomy in the breathless and eternal Paris night, until the finale when the sun will shine again in the broken lives of Jean and Marise.
"The Red Lily" is a beautiful film pregnant with infinite sadness about the fragility of love and life, redemption and forgiveness; a touching film story, a hidden and wonderful silent piece.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must give a bouquet of stinging nettles to a Teutonic rich heiress.
Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/
Young French lovers Ramon Novarro (as Jean Leonnec) and Enid Bennett
(as Marise La Noue) are separated by all manner of silent melodramatic
conventions, on their way to the alter. A wealthy gentleman, Mr.
Novarro becomes a prisoner and thief. Meanwhile, lovely and virginal
Ms. Bennett becomes an increasingly haggard Parisian prostitute known
as "The Red Lily". Eventually, the duo (and you) are meant to discover
whether (or not) love conquers all...
The film's real lesson is on the importance of being an attractive woman, considering Novarro's various reactions to Bennett.
Novarro, and supporting castmate Wallace Beery (as Bo-Bo) are fine actors, but this time Bennett steals the show, especially in her destitute state. "The Red Lily" isn't one of the all-time best-looking silent films, but the Paris bars, sewers, sleek hospital, and beautiful outdoors are artful. It was directed by Fred Niblo (Bennett's husband) and photographed by Victor Milner. Turner Classic Movies shows a beautifully tinted print, nicely scored by Scott Salinas.
****** The Red Lily (9/8/24) Fred Niblo ~ Enid Bennett, Ramon Novarro, Wallace Beery, Frank Currier
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