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I saw this delightful piece at a film festival and rated it my favorite of all of the (many, many) shorts I saw there! While the blurb I originally read about it did not sound interesting, it is an absolute delight, and so original! The "Silent Movie" style used with a gay love story in WW I is so unique--a sweet, funny gem!
We saw this short film (30 minutes long) at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras film festival. It's all very Chaplin-esque and the star (who also directed) is terrific. The gay plot doesn't kick in for a while and perhaps the movie is a tad long for a short, but it looks so sumptious on the screen and the obvious love that the director/actor had for making this film is very obvious. Although it was nice to see Abraham Benrubi (from 'ER') in it, I believe that cutting some of his scenes would have made this film a bit crisper. I'm really looking forward to what else this very talented film-maker is going to come up with next.
"War Story" (2001), like "The Artist" (2011), is a beautifully realised homage to silent cinema - this time the silent comedy one-reelers of people like Charles Chaplin. John Baumgartner does a truly amazing job in writing, directing, producing and starring in the film, creating a charming on-screen character, and some beautifully timed slapstick routines. Like Chaplin, Baumgartner also adds some serious themes, and pathos, to the comedy, because, somewhat surprisingly, the film centres on a romance between two men, one a soldier, the other a waiter, in 1918.The romance is so sweet, that it makes the often violent reactions of the other characters to it, seem absurd. This is an absolute gem and I am surprised at its lack of profile - I hope this is not because of the gay themes, but I suspect it is. "War Story" is, in its way, as fine a work as "The Artist", and well worth seeking out.
Imagine Charlie Chaplin making a sweet and charming gay love story in his
best silent-comedy style, and you have War Story.
Ronnie, a strapping, good-looking soldier going off to WW1 takes the place of Edna Purviance, and the tramp-character is here played by Metly Morville, a wide-eyed fellow in a bowler-hat working as a waiter. Ronnie and Metly fall in love, yet there are problems....
War story could be written off as brilliant pastiche, of course. The stock characters are all here: The fat man with the huge moustache, the silly old dame, the lovely young thing, the sneaky thief. The pratfalls, the fisticuffs, the captions, - all here! The interior of the restaurant looks exactly like a set at Mack Sennett-studios in 1915.
And yet: There is a scene of two men being beaten up and thrown out of the restaurant for being "pansies". That, of course, is the way gays were treated back then. So there is a darker message of ignorance and intolerance being addressed here. And, of course, you would never see two men fall in love like this in the silents. Unthinkable.
Overall, I give this film a 10/10, if only for the sheer audacity and novelty of it. I hope Baumgartner will return to this simple way of making films. His audience will love him for it.
I can't recommend this enough.
John Baumgartner stars as the fictitious Metly Moorville, apparently a famous 1920s silent film star, who happens to be gay. This film takes the recognised imagery of silent romantic movies and twists it to make it boy meets boy instead of boy meets girl.
Even the most homophobic person will be charmed by this film and hopefully it will lead to a long-running series of Metly Moorville shorts.
It's also very funny.
i had the distinct pleasure to catch "war story" at the pittsburgh
international lesbian & gay film festival, and it was the highlight of
the night. the film is a splendid homage to the world of silent
cinema, and a touching queer story in its own right. its wonderfully
reconstructed silent film slapstick elicits more than a few hearty
laughs, while at the same time maintaining the atmosphere of
silent cinema's bygone days. metly moorville, the film's fictional
hero, is akin to a queer little tramp, and his performance by
director john baumgartner made me wish for a scad of sequels. it
was also quite amusing to see abraham benrubi, best known as
"kubiak" from "parker lewis can't lose" and his work on e.r., with
extravagantly villainous facial hair -- mustachio, beard and
This film was screened at the 2001 DC Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. It's a sweet love story of two men who fall for each other, only to be separated by World War I, done in the style of the silent films of the era. The film beautifully captures the innocence of the films of the time, and the technique is nearly flawless. Although a bit long, it makes a lovely counterpoint to the gritty realism of so many gay short films today. The acting is broad and comic, not at all believable in today's terms, but just right for a film made in 1918. Highly enjoyable.
I had the privilege of seeing this movie in a private showing. It is brilliantly written and acted in a Charlie Chaplin-esque manner. It is so sweet and funny. It made me laugh. It made me cry, (but in a good way!) Without a word, the actors make you feel every emotion so fully, that you never want it to end. Bravo, to all involved!
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