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Rare Domino Film melodrama of Canadian murder and Mountie Inspectors search for truth., 24 October 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Domino Film company only made films for 2-3 years before going under. This rare melodrama made and distributed by that company was directed by and stars Walter Edwards who plays Burke a widower trying to raise his pretty young daughter Hilda (Rhea Mitchell) on his own. The 35mm nitrate print I saw was missing the opening titles and started in the middle of introducing the characters. The first surviving scene is of a man telling a group of men in a log cabin bar of the dead body of Mackenzie (Harry Keenan) a "factor" (property manager) and the listeners are happy to hear the news as he was a hated man. As the news gets back to the home office a telegram is dispatched to Canadian North West Mounted Police Inspector Sergeant Tom Allen (Tom Chatterton) to go and search for the murderer. Upon his arrival he searches the woods wear the body was found and discovers two empty bullet casings which he takes for evidence. He then talks with the story tellers at the bar and quietly compares the caliber of a rifle and bullets found there, no match. He looks thru the murder man's belongings and discovers a picture of a beautiful woman that looks very similar to Hilda the daughter of Burke... reel 2 - The Sergeant confronts Burke who also has a larger picture in his home of the same beautiful woman. Burke decides to fill in the back story. In flashback we see that Burkes wife ran away with Mackenzie when Hilda was just a baby and soon abandoned her. She soon became ill and sent for her husband but died before he arrived. Many years later, Burke is given the job of assistant to Mackenzie who does not recognize him or that daughter. Burke then tricks Mackenzie out into the woods and challenges him to a duel of sorts and kills him. At the end of the story, Sergeant Tom writes out and telegram and hands it to Burke showing him the inspector found no evidence of a crime.

George Pal had a colorful imagination!, 21 October 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is the second of the series of shorts made for Paramount by George Pal. Reel is not only novel and amusing, but is in handsome Technicolor. Old and young will enjoy the little story of the lad, Jim Dandy, who, walking a sylvan trail with his dog, meets pretty Ninya, the gypsy girl. Infatuated with her, he fellows her to the camp where her fierce father, is in both meanings of the term,—the "leader" of the gypsy band. Jim is given an opportunity to play a fiddle, which he does in hot swing style, and wins the girl's heart and hand. Music, conducted by Andre Kostelanetz, is excellently arranged and rendered. Footage is done in the George Pal technique. All around, it is a neat short.

George Pal is amazing!, 21 October 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The film opens with a view of Austria and then it focuses on a statue of Mr. Strauss. The Screwball Army is overunning everything with their goosestepping screwball infantry, tanks and glass planes. This outrages the spirit of Mr. Strauss, who then brings the statue to life. He pulls out his violin, counts "vun, two, three, vun, two, three," and launches into the Radetzky Marche. The screwballs are unable to resist a good march and get into parade formation. He promptly marches them into bogs, swamps and mud, and down they go. He them returns to his place as a statue and the film ends. Here are some more facts: Puppetoons Theatrical Cartoon Series Stop-motion Animation Paramount Pictures Distributed by: Paramount Pictures Cartoon Characters: Mr. Strauss, Soldiers. Voice Actors: Victor Jory, Rex Ingram. Directed By George Pal. Produced By George Pal. Originally Released on February 26, 1943. Originally Released Theatrically. TechniColor!

Good Johnny Hines comedy, with spunk, action and daring do!, 18 October 2016

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Even though he works in a garage and is bullied by his boss, Mock Epply (Walter Long), Willie Bascom (Johnny Hines) sports a pair of fashionable white trousers that get him into considerable difficulty. Willie meets Helen Charters (Leila Hyams), daughter of a wealthy manufacturer, when they stop on their way to a Palm Springs resort. Charters takes an interest in a magnetic bumper device invented by Willie, who gets an opportunity to deliver a fancy car to the resort, dressed in his white pants and with Wong (George Kuwa), a Chinese laundryman, pretending to be his chauffeur. Willie is mistaken for a crack polo player, and by bluffing he manages to win a polo game, the admiration of Helen, and Charters' support in promoting his invention. The ending banquet at a giant round table has all the guests sitting on hobby-horses to eat their dinner from and that rotates around the table complete with Busby Berkeley like overhead camera shots! Writer Hal Ericson said this about Hines, "Actor Johnny Hines entered films as a juvenile in 1913. After taking classes at CCNY, Hines launched his leading-man career as star of the "Torchy" short subject series in 1920. Throughout the 1920s, he headlined such breezy, popular feature comedies as Little Johnny Jones (1923), Conductor 1492 (1924), The Speed Spook (1924) and The Crackerjack (1925). He also wrote or co- wrote most of his vehicles. Described by one historian as the "Jack Lemmon of the silents," Hines wasn't quite as versatile as Lemmon, but his likeably extroverted screen personality was very much in the same vein. When talkies came in, Johnny Hines' starring career abruptly ended; he continued showing up in small character roles in films like Too Hot to Handle before retiring in the early 1940s."

Crack-Up (1934)
Found at 2016 Mostly Lost film festival, Library of Congress, Packard Campus., 22 June 2016

These are the notes from the program booklet before the film was identified:


"A daredevil flyer, David, flirts with the waitress in a café, Mary. The villain enters and sees the two flirting. A little boy, Billy, accidentally takes off in an un-maned biplane which leads to the hero taking off in the villain's plane, jumping to the boy's plane and saving the day. The villain's plane crashes in the rescue and while he claims to be alright with it, he calls the authorities to report that there has been a hold-up and that David has the $5,000 in cash. David gets arrested and Mr. Rogers also has Billy picked up by welfare workers."

Note, the dog (hero) also fights with the villain.

Based on the novel The Fighter by Albert Payson Terhune (New York, 1909)., 14 March 2016

Following the death of her father, Dey Shevlin becomes the ward of Caleb Conover, a railroad president. His enemy Jimmy Blacardo induces a country club's officials to challenge his right to membership in the organization; Dey persuades him to fight back, and he defeats his accusers. Newspapers then reveal a scandal involving the late Tom Shevlin's shady dealings, and though Conover takes the blame, Dey accuses him of using her father as a shield. In a mountain retreat, she discovers the truth from Caine, and Conover comes to her declaring his love, then returns to fight his enemies. When he hears later that Dey has drowned in a canoe accident, Conover banishes the doctor from the room and restores the girl by mental effort. He returns to the city on a locomotive that falls through a burning bridge, but he survives to triumph over his enemies.

A 90-year old film is meticulously restored for audiences of today with a story as relevant for today's viewers as it was nearly a century ago., 11 March 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"In 2012, a 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck northern Italy, including the city of Ferrara. The quake caused significant damage to the region's historic buildings and heritage sites. A cracked wall in Ferrara's municipal building revealed a hidden treasure—cans of old film. Could this be the long lost silent film made by the legendary Lumini brothers of Ferrara in the early 1920s? "Love Among the Ruins" is about the miraculous discovery of the long lost silent film and the intriguing speculation of its fate—all of which are explored by the filmmaker through interviews with some of the world's top film historians, archivists, critics and professors. Can the deteriorated film be repaired so that new audiences around the world can watch the moving story of two lovers caught in the events of World War I?"


"Love Among the Ruins (Amore tra le rovine) is a spoof about the miraculous discovery and restoration of a long lost Italian silent film. It is written and directed by Massimo Ali Mohammad, an Italian filmmaker who lives and works in Ferrara. The film is produced by Meyerhar Productions of Seattle.

Love Among the Ruins connects the curiosity of a contemporary filmmaker with the genius of the Lumini brothers, two cinematic icons almost overlooked in the history of cinema. Beyond speculation by film historians, critics and a family member revealed in the first "documentary" part of the film, Love Among the Ruins offers a complete silent film as if restored from the 1920s and with a newly commissioned musical score. More than a parody, the film celebrates the joy of discovering lost art, a rich tradition of filmmaking in Italy, and how a young filmmaker with his first feature film recreates the artistry of silent film."

Review from Motion Picture World, Jan. 10, 1916 - sounds like GREED alright!, 3 March 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

LIFE'S WHIRLPOOL (Five Parts Jan. 10, 1916). The cast includes Holbrook Blinn and Fania Marinoff.

McTeague begins life in the mines. He later becomes an unlicensed practicing dentist. He is a man of violent physical passions, but until he meets little Trina, who visits his dental office, his love instincts have never been aroused.

McTeague induces Trina to marry him through the sheer force of his domineering personality The couple are not happy. Trina develops miserly instincts and -when she wins a .$5,000 lottery prize, she hoards the money and grows more and more avaricious.

McTeague quarrels with Marcus, his former rival for Trina's affections, and the ill feeling between the two men leads to a fierce combat in which McTeague proves the victor. In revenge Marcus has McTeague prevented from practicing dentistry because he has no diploma.

McTeague leans on Trina for support but she turns him away. Trina has a severe illness and while recuperating develops a mania for fond- ling her hoarded gold pieces. McTeague re- turns to find Trina showering handfuls of gold upon her bed. After a terrific scene he strangles her and steals the money.

Marcus, determined to avenge Trina's death, trails the fugitive McTeague into the heart of Death Valley, where the two men come at last face to face in a final battle to the death under the blistering desert sun.

Things I learned before writing an introduction to Public Enemy., 26 February 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When it was new, back in 1931 it was another time, with lots of issues, depression, prohibition and crime. Cagney was a small time NY actor looking for a break, and the director Wellman wanted a break-out performance. Actor Pat O'Brien used to describe his friend Cagney as "just a dancer gone wrong." But Cagney knew tough, in his autobiography he described growing up in the NY streets where the kids tossed bricks at each other, and sometimes the cops when they got bored. But where did this movie story come from? It turns out, two former hoodlums met when they went into the drugstore business in Chicago during prohibition and they heard a lot of bragging from their gangster clientèle and witnessed enough they decided to write a book about it and they called it BEER AND BLOOD. The cinema going public would have recognized several stories from the headlines that made it into this script, one was of a gas truck being used to smuggle beer another was the tale of a horse that caused the accidental death of a real-life hood named "Nails" Morton, finally a third event involving gangster Earl "Hymie" Weiss and an omelet. The phrase Public Enemy which is what Warner Bros. changed the title to, goes all the way back to Roman times but was popularized in Chicago by Frank Loesch, then chairman of the Chicago Crime Commission a prosecutor who stated he had a list of the outstanding hoodlums, known murderers but lacked the evidence to prove it. The FBI liked using this list so much they stole the idea and created their famous ten most wanted including at the time: John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Bonnie and Clyde and "Scarface" Al Capone. The producer of the film decided to switch directors when William "WILD BILL" Wellman said, "Let me make it and I'll make the toughest dam gangster movie of them all." Then just before filming started they switched roles for the lead actors. Cagney had been cast as the supporting role until the writers and director saw a clip of THE MILLIONAIRE, an earlier film where Cagney's direct energy and fast delivery stole the movie and he was only in one scene and that was playing an insurance salesman! Everyone realized with the proper handling this skyrocket could create a firestorm of excitement and he does. Just watch Cagney's darting eyes, his body language and winks and that famous little jab or pulled punch of his.

Cagney got that famous movie mannerism from his father who died from alcoholism at the age of 42, and Jimmy was just 19 causing him to drop out of school to support his family and put his brother thru medical school. Oddly, that is the exact opposite of what his character does in tonight's film. When the movie making was over, Cagney humbly said in an interview, "Movie stars, they come and they go with an exception now and then. Two more years and I'll be looking for a job on the stage again – maybe hoofing. What's the use of kidding myself." So he quit Hollywood and took his family back to New York. But Jack Warner saw the box office lines around the blocks of the theaters playing PUBLIC ENEMY and knew they struck gold, quickly he tripled Cagney's pay and begged him to come back. The rest as they say is history. Along with Warner Brothers' earlier hit Little Caesar made the year before and Scarface made just a year after, this movie set the tone for the popular gangster dramas of the Depression period, gritty and brutally realistic, and Cagney's performance established him as the essence of the ruthless, hair-trigger hoodlum – scary but fascinating. And he made it look fun because he was having a blast doing it. So much so, that the censor board made the studio add warnings and disclaimers at the beginning and end of the film. Also in the end credits you'll see Edward Woods billed over Cagney because that's the way they were originally hired.

A hard-luck moll played by Mae Clarke may have been uncredited in this film, but her performance boosted her career so much that later that same year she became more famous for the attention of another monster, FRANKENSTEIN.

For added realism director Wellman asked actor Donald Cook to really hit Cagney during a fight scene, which he did, knocking out two teeth, but Jimmy stayed in character.

The New York Times upon its April 1931 release, called it "just another gangster film, weaker than most in its story, stronger than most in its acting; Woods and Cagney give "remarkably lifelike portraits of young hoodlums" and "Beryl Mercer as Tom's mother, Robert Emmett O'Connor as a gang chief, and Donald Cook as Tom's brother, do splendidly.

Three particular scenes were cut when it was re-released after the Production Code was put into effect. 1) The scene with the gay tailor was, pardon the expression trimmed. 2) The scene of a couple waking up in bed together and rolling around having fun was shortened. 3) Showing Cagney being seduced when hiding out in a woman's apartment.

And finally on a recent viewing I noticed a sound effect during a spanking scene that sounds so real I don't think it was faked, but still it got past the stinkers at the production code. This film was added to the National Film Registry in 1998.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
I've seen 90 feet of this at the Library Of Congress and it looks good..., 28 August 2015

Sadly that's all that I've seen. What I've read makes it sound good... Gary Cooper was promoted to stardom in the Zane Grey western Arizona Bound. Cooper plays a character known only as The Cowboy, who rides into a small frontier town on the same day that a big gold shipment is departing. It so happens that the shipment has been targeted for robbery by two separate villains: "Trusted" driver Buck O'Hara (Jack Dougherty), and a swarthy stranger (Christian J. Frank). Even so, it is The Cowboy who is accused of the robbery, and soon our poor hero finds himself the guest of honor at a "necktie party." He escapes the mob in time to expose the crooks, recover the gold, and win the heart of the heroine (Betty Jewel, kind of a brunette version of Thelma Todd). Discovered by stunt-rider Marilyn Mills, young Gary Cooper had appeared in a pivotal role in Samuel Goldwyn's production of The Winning of Barbara Worth and Paramount saw him as their answer to MGM's Tim McCoy or Columbia's Jack Holt. Cooper's contract would be shared by Goldwyn and Paramount for years to come. In fact he would have a brief and famous appearance in WINGS that same year. I hope more of this film gets found and restored.

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