Hank owns horses, stables horses and races horses. He favorite horse always wins and he is prosperous and will known. His son (Bob), however dreams only of the future of the horseless ... See full summary »
Roy Del Ruth
After killing her treacherous step-father, a girl tries to escape the country with a young vagabond. She dresses as a boy, they hop freight trains, quarrel with a group of hobos, and steal ... See full summary »
William A. Wellman
Mary Magdalene becomes angry when Judas, now a follower of Jesus, won't come to her feast. She goes to see Jesus and becomes repentant. From there the Bible story unfolds through the ... See full summary »
Cecil B. DeMille
Many passengers on the Shanghai Express are more concerned that the notorious Shanghai Lil is on board than the fact that a civil war is going on that may make the trip take more than three... See full summary »
Josef von Sternberg
Anna May Wong
During World War I, an Austrian officer is trapped behind the Russian lines. He tries to sneak through to his own lines, but is forced to take refuge in a small hotel, where he is hidden by... See full summary »
Two American soldiers are captured by the Germans on the Western Front during World War One and escape a POW camp only to stumble into further life-threatening adventures when they come across an Arabian king's daughter while on the lam.
The Vasquez family are one of the oldest families in San Francisco, but their day of glory is past and now all that remains of them are an old man and his granddaughter, the innocent Dolores. The villainous Chris Buckwell wants to steal their land and ranch from them, even using unfair means to get his hands on it. One of his employees' has a nephew who falls for Dolores, however, and together they make plans to save the ranch. Unfortunately for them, Buckwell has a secret and discovering it might prove dangerous. Written by
In turn of the the century San Francisco the noble Vasquez family are threatened with the loss of their property by the unscrupulous Mongol, Chris Buckwell. Buckwell, a Chinatown denizen holds considerable influence and sway in Frisco and does not hesitate to acquire by dubious means a piece of the action from local area merchants and land owners. The Vasquez family who has fought and died to keep their land over generations now must pin their hopes on the beautiful daughter Dolores (Dolores Costello) of the patriarch who aligns herself with a rambunctious Irishman (Charles Mack) to combat the diabolical Buckwell who in turn has lascivious designs on Dolores.
Despite being wrought with bias and ethnic stereotyping, Old San Francisco is a splendid example of visual poetry that displays the silent art form in all it's glory. Camera movement is minimal (but used brilliantly at the films climax) with nearly every image a beautiful tableaux of light and composition in group shot and close-up. The underground Chinatown that Buckwell moves between from his 112 Sierra avenue address is a dark, mysterious nether world, both exotic and threatening.
Warner Oland as Buckwell is a superb villain. In addition to desiring all things Vasquez he uses his formidable connections to shake down local Chinese merchants who claim that while "he is of the blood he is not of the breed". In addition to his greed and pursuit of power he worships false idols, exploits the religious fervor of others and keeps his dwarf brother in a cage. For the most part he remains stoic, utilizing an evil sneer that understatedly sums up his consummate villainy.
While director Alan Crosland (The Jazz Singer) is at best a footnote in film history he helms a work as good as any silent master. Once he gets past a boiler plate prologue his use of light and shadow, close-up and reaction shot as well as utilization of props as insignificant as a broken gate show the work of a storyteller in complete control. Combined with a beautiful musical score and title cards of polished prose Old San Francisco is a feast of esoteric ambiance and textbook silent film making.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?