Greta Garbo and Victor Sjostrom

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Scott Lord Danish Silent Film: Mod lyset (Holger-Madsen, 1919)

The Danish Silent Film "Towards the Light" ("Mod Lyset"), writtn and directed by Holger-Madsen for Nordisk Films Kompagni starred Asta Nielsen. That year Holger Madsen also directed the films "Hendes Helt", starring Gunnar Tolnaes, "The Soul of the Violin" ("En Kunstners Gennemlard", starring Marie Dinsen, and "Den Aerolse", starring Valdemar Psilander and Ebba Thomsen. Scandinavian Silent Film

Silent Film

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Greta Garbo in The Mysterious Lady (Fred Niblo, 1928)

While editor of Film Comment magazine, Richard Corliss signed the dedication of his biography of Greta Garbo "To My Own Mysterious Lady, who taught me all I know." Apparently, he had met his wife at a Greta Garbo retrospective during 1968. He writes on Garbo in the film, "It's not that Garbo needed roles of majestic tragedy- she certainly got enough of those!- but she should in films as slight as Mysterious Lady (1928) and as substantial as Ninotchka (1939), that she could have fun without sacrificing the sense of fated seriousness that made her roles, and sometimes even her films, something special." The cover for Exibitors Herald and Motion Picture World was literally designed by M.G.M, their having apparently purchSed it as space, as it was still advertising Greta Garbo in War in the Dark against John Gilbert in The Cossacks and Four Walls. Photoplay in its pages from that year added a provocative photo of Greta Garbo seductive, bare shouldered, in a low cut evening dress with the caption, "Who wants movies with incidental sounds? who would be disturbed by the smack of the kiss Conrad Nagel is planting on Greta Garbo's knock in War in the Dark?" Motion Picture magazine may have lacked tact in its review of The Mysterious Lady, "Greta Garbo's latest picture is devoted to disproving those two disagreeable statements of Jim Tully's- that Greta Garbo is anemic and flat-chested. She darts about displaying unwonted vim and vigor and wears a gown that might very appropriately adorned Barbara La Marr. Greta as a beautiful lad spy is too alluring to miss...Conrad Nagel is occupying John Gilbert's usual place besides the couch." The Celluloid Critic from Motion Picture Classic Magazine of 1928 also noted that Gilbert was "conspicuously absent" from the film, leaving us to wonder if there wasn't more interest in his having been replaced, the studio not being able to elicit vamp characters from Greta Garbo and finding other seductresses that would lend themselves to the imagination. "The picture is nothing to rave about. The Scandinavian lady rises far above it in her role as an icy spy of the late war. Her particular assignment is to tempt a susceptible youth to his doom. You see, he has papers...It is an antique yarn dusted off for the occasion but functions fairly well, what with the Garbo woman tempting and tempting and tempting. And it builds a fair line of suspense." Motion Picture News during 1928 wrote, "Whatever Garbo tackles in the line of stories she has the personality and technique to make it interesting...The Mysterious Lady has been done time and again on the screen. it is old of plot that even the merest tyro at picture going can spot it all the way. it is fair enough because the presence of Greta Garbo. Conrad Nagel is opposite her for a change and acts very creditably."
Picture Play Magazine during 1928 included the film in an article entitled "Are the Movies Scorning Love?", written by Edwin Shallert. It wrote, "A love scene that is susceptible of laughter is scarcely an asset to a film, and if Flesh and the Devil did triumph, it was rather because of a strong friendship theme rather than its lush blandishments...the amorous episodes in The Mysterious Lady, which stars Greta Garbo, were visibly shortened following its initial preview. the audience was inclined to titter at certain languorous poses that Greta Garbo and Conrad Nagel assumed. Romantic love interest consequently is subdued in this spy melodrama. Moreso, at least, than in Greta's earlier luxuriating." it is difficult to gather much about the film from the review of it placed in The Film Spectator during 1928, as it seems severe, other than the plot was met with disdain in its treatment, "The main fault with The Mysterious Lady is that it's leading man is made out to be an idiot...It is not customary for Conrad Nagel to play an idiot and he's not convincing at it. of course, Fred Niblo, the director, didn't intend Nagel to be an idiot, but he made him do so many silly things that he became one anyway...Niblo's direction was very good on the whole, the scene where the hero has his commission taken from him being very impressive...Greta Garbo, Conrad Nagel have nothing to be desired in the acting line." The absence of John Gilbert from the film had been predicted from the moment Greta Garbo was included in the film. Exhibitor's Herlad reported, "Niblo signs Greta Garbo for War in the Dark. Fred Niblo announced yesterday by arrangement with Louis B. Mayer that Greta Garbo will head the cast of his forthcoming Metro Goldwyn Mayer Special 'War in the Dark' by Ludwig Wolff. he was director of The Temprest in which Garbo appeared some time ago. Bess Meredith is preparing the scenario. John Gilbert will not be in the cast as rumored in Hollywood."
The Motion Picture News Booking Guide during 1929 provided a brief synopsis of The Mysterious Lady, directed by Fred Niblo, "Theme: Romantic drama in which beautiful Russina spy falls in love with young Austrian officer. When he discovers her identity, he casts her off, and to get even girl steals valuable army plans. OFficer trails her to Russia and regains plans. Spy gets into trouble when she aides lover, but pair escape across border and back to Austria."
Fred Niblo seemed to have caused what would have been viewed carefully as a wince from fans of Greta Garbo in Screenland Magazine during 1928. He is quoted by the magazine along with others from Hollywood in response to the question of what a vamp at that time was. "A vamp is a girl like Greta Garbo. her mysterious allure is her appeal. her eyes have the look of concealing some emotion. You have the sensation that she is withholding something all the while and that she can never be understood." During the same issue, Fred Niblo acquired a byline for his article Crashing the Gates of Hollywood, which begins with his explaining the difficulty of keeping silent actors on the screen with the coming of sound. It carried a photocaption to an octagonal portrait of Greta Garbo , "Accoring to Fred Niblo, Greta Garbo is 'a blonde personality with a brunette voice.' She has a voice pitched lower than any other woman in pictures."  Greta Garbo
Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo in Love

Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo

Friday, April 16, 2021

Scott Lord Silent Film: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse 1921

Motion Picture News during 1921 readily boasted that more than seven different types of "exploitations" were used to advertise the film "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" starring Rudolph Valentino. Motion Picture Directing, published in 1922, showed a director Rex Ingram using a white, square canvass reflector to exploit sunlight during the filming of exterior scenes. The film was based on the novel writtenby Vincente Ibanez.
Silent film Rudolph Valentino

Friday, April 9, 2021

Scott Lord Silent Film: Lon Chaney in The Penalty (Wallace Worsely, 1920)

After having directed he seven reel silent Film “The Penalty” In 1920, Wallace Worsely would direct Lon Chaney in “The Ace of Hearts” and “Voices of the City”,costarring Leatrice Joy during 1921.

Lon Chaney

Lon Chaney Silent Film Lon Chaney

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Scott Lord Silent Film: Jesus of Nazereth (From The Manger to the Cross,...

It has been noted that "From The Manger to the Cross", directed by Sidney Olcott for the Kalem Company in 1912 and scripted by actress Gene Gauthier who played The Virgin Mary in the film, owes a debt visually to a Bible illustarted by Joseph Jacques Tissot. Accordingly, the expository intertitles preceding each scene from the Holy Bible introduce the passage with quotations from scripture cited by their respective chapter and verse.
Silent Film Silent Film