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,
Chivo, a singer who works in a movie theater providing live entertainment, is and apprehended by a music-loving Mexican bandit Braganza who wants to make Chivo part of his band. Braganza, who admires American gangsters, also kidnaps Jane and her rich boyfriend, Bill. to become more like the American movie gangsters he admires.
Flashback story of an escape from the lonely, high-security Dartmoor Prison. A jealous barber's assistant is enraged by the attentions that his manicurist girlfriend pays to a customer. He ... See full summary »
Hans Adalbert Schlettow,
Edwin, a taxi driver, lives with Annie, a neurasthenic model. They plan to spend Sunday at the Nikolassee beach with Wolfgang, an officer, gentleman, antiquarian, gigolo, at the moment a ... See full summary »
Set in the bleak aftermath and devastation of the World War I, a recently demobbed soldier, Timosh, returns to his hometown Kiev, after having survived a train wreck. His arrival coincides ... See full summary »
This early example of the "backstage" musical genre tells the story of Kitty Darling, a fading burlesque star who tries to save her convent-educated daughter April from following in Mom's footsteps.Written by
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by MCA ever since. See more »
When April comes backstage to see Kitty after returning home from the convent, the shot from outside the dressing room shows Kitty sitting at her mirror and then turning to see April in the doorway. In the next shot, from inside the dressing room, she once again is sitting at her mirror and once again turns to see April entering. See more »
I know of two films that, comparatively speaking always, rival Kane (before Kane) in their bevy of diverse film technique, both French. Now a third one and the first in sound. Similar to Welles, Mamoulian started out in the theater and moved to film, and like him, an innovator, loved the camera, visual space and movement, and fought with studios on and off throughout his uneven career.
No comparison really. Welles was a narrative mastermind next to his other qualities as a showman. Still, an interesting guy I will be seeing more from—already have Love Me Tonight, a light operetta in the Lubitsch mode.
The plot here is shameless melodrama, a burlesque mother is made by her abusive boyfriend to pull her daughter from boarding school and into the show biz to start making money. The boyfriend is the kind of lecherous villain that audiences back when they thought the actor was his character, would probably boo his every on-screen appearance. In the silent format, the effect would have been somewhat mitigated by the presence of intertitles, and not being able to hear the constant sobs and wails of pathetic anguish of the mother—theatrical voicing on top of theatrical acting.
But no matter. Watch a few films of the era and get back to this, start with The Jazz Singer.
It's a breath of fresh air. The staging is fluid; the places some of them real, explored with a youthful, modern gaze; the camera expressive, cultivating visual space as of equal importance to the story than as simple conveyance for it. I would describe it, relative to its time, as New Wave—think of Breathless by contrast to a late 50's run-of-the-mill crime flick.
The scene of two youthful lovers staring out to sea on top of I think the Empire State Building takes the breath away. Or the two of them wandering by sunup to Brooklyn Bridge—simple poetry, a pan from wrought iron framework to simmering horizon, still modern.
Ultimately, it exhilarates. You dwell long enough in the stringent melodrama and overall depressing feel of the burlesque world, so these free flows, when they come, sweep you out to sea and floating freedom.
It's a smart bit of dynamics. You venture past the limits of the adult stage with these youth (she a dancer, he a sailor), it's got to be you. When they part in the subway, and she looks with a kind of dumb amazement at the pieces of gum in her palm, it's a heartbreaking moment.
Well, it wasn't going to fly. It opened with three weeks to go for Black Tuesday.
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