Greta Garbo and Victor Sjostrom

Friday, December 9, 2022

Scott Lord Silent Film: The Last Performance (Paul Frejos, 1929)

The stockmarket had apparently already crashed by the time "The Last Performance", starring Conrad Veidt and Mary Philbin, was screened first run at the Park Theatre in Boston. Universal Weekly, primarily an advertising journal, after having remarked the film was "conspicuous for its camera effects and discriminating direction" tied in the New England premiere to its reception by excerpting three "leading newspapers", The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and the Daily Record. The Daily Record mentioned the film as having been one of the two "first rate pictures" then on the marquee of the Park Theatre, the other also produced by Universal. It may be important to the history of film appreciation that the paper had written, "The Philbin-Veidt is part talkie. But in some cases, the less talk, the better the picture. This is one of those cases, for Veidt is a high rating character actor and needs no dialogue to score his points."
An earlier issue of Universal Weekly, while noting that Conrad Veidt and Mary Philbin had previously costarred together in the film "The Man Who Laughs", showed the trick photography in the film "The Last Performance" by providing a still from the film where the magician Veidt is holding Philbin in his hand. The Universal Weekly, owned by Universal Pictures Corporation, clarified itself with its captioned subtitle, "A Magazine for Motion Picture Exhibitors" and listed its editor as Paul Gulick. Letters to the editor to be published were addressed to Carl Laemmle, President. Interestingly, Author Anthony Slide gives an account of Mary Philbin having declined interviews after retirement, "Thanks to her reclusivity, she became a minor Garbo in the eyes of fans of silent film."
Silent Film Lon Chaney Bela Lugosi

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