Lem goes to Chicago to sell the wheat his family has grown on their farm in Minnesota. There he meets the waitress Kate. They fall in love and get married before going back to the farm. ... See full summary »
In a juke joint, sharecropper Zeke falls for a beautiful dancer, Chick, but she's only setting him up for a rigged craps game. He loses $100, the money he got for the sale of his family's ... See full summary »
Daniel L. Haynes,
Nina Mae McKinney,
Broken hearts in Ireland. Sean is a great tenor, in semi-retirement, living in a village close to Mary, the woman he's always loved. Mary's aunt convinced her to marry a man for his money; ... See full summary »
Already in trouble with the law, Arthur and his friend Nutty break into a drugstore to get medicine for Nutty's grandmother. The druggist's wife, Mrs. Doray, asks for custody. When he hears... See full summary »
Steve Tuttle, the titular lazybones, takes on the responsibility of raising a fatherless girl, causing a scandal in his small town. Many years later, having returned from World War I, he ... See full summary »
In the Depression, Pete and Sidney are good kids, working hard, giving money to their parents, and engaged for three years while they save to get married. Each has a selfish mother: ... See full summary »
A criminal known as Thunderbolt is imprisoned and facing execution. Into the next cell is placed Bob Morgan, an innocent man who has been framed and who is in love with Thunderbolt's girl, ... See full summary »
In the late 1800s New England, banker William Marlowe and his wife Martha have arranged for their daughter Mary to marry the officious and older Lord Hurley of England. Mary does not want ... See full summary »
C. Aubrey Smith
I should clarify that 'The River (1929)' today exists only in an incomplete form, with about forty minutes of footage considered lost, including the opening and final acts. Nevertheless, a 2006 reconstruction runs for 55 minutes and fills in narrative gaps with intertitles and promotional stills. Importantly, the surviving footage pretty much depicts in its entirety the romance of Allen John (Charles Farrell) and Rosalee (Mary Duncan), which is the backbone of the story.
I originally heard 'The River' described as the most erotic film of the silent era, so I naturally said to myself, "that piece of information has absolutely no bearing on my interest in this film." In fact, it isn't as described (something like 'Erotikon (1929)' would probably be closer to the mark), though leading actress Mary Duncan certainly does sultry very well. Farrell's traditional co-star was Janet Gaynor, but I can see why the switch was made here. Gaynor was always the epitome of feminine innocence and fragility; this role requires an actress with a hard crust, someone along the lines of Marlene Dietrich.
Most of 'The River' unfolds in an isolated valley, where the construction of a dam has been temporarily postponed. All the workers leave for the winter, except for Rosalee, whose boyfriend has been arrested for murder, and Allen John, who misses the last train because he keeps getting distracted by the womanly presence. The small cast, and confined surroundings, thus breed an element of intimacy (though I can't recall so much as a kiss between the two lovers). Nobody did melodrama like Borzage, and this here is beautifully-shot melodrama.
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