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Added by johanlefourbe on 5 Feb 2020 12:03

1001 Movies ... my own version (1920's)

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People who added this item 99 Average listal rating (53 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.4

Notes: To be honest, I don’t think it is really a great movie. Indeed, there was nothing visually really impressive about it, none of the characters involved were really interesting (except for Efrem and Old Ned) and the story was pretty much a random mess. And yet, the historical value of this movie is huge since it is considered as the earliest known surviving film directed by an African-American. As a result, it was quite intriguing to see such an old movie finally from a black perspective, focusing on black characters and directed by a black man, On top of that, the 3rd act turned out to be actually quite mind-blowing. Indeed, instead of developing the story going on so far, they took a left-turn and ended up with a rather long flashback scene showing what happened back then when the main character was younger and the end-result was just so shocking. Indeed, you had a double lynching coupled with a grizzly rape scene and some little boy who got shot at but still managed to escape. Anyway, it was just so nightmarish but, in the contrary to most of your typical horror pictures, it was something that was really taking place back then in the South making the whole thing so much more horrible and frightening. Another unforgettable scene that occurred just before was when Efrem, a wretched weasel, also got lynched, not because he was accused of any wrongdoings but simply because this mob was apparently getting ‘impatient’.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 1230 Average listal rating (710 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.1

Notes: If I recall it correctly, I saw this movie when I was living in England. There, I took a movie course which was just great. Every week we would watch a movie starting with 'Cabiria' released in 1914 (even though it is considered a classic, it was an awful 3 hours long silent epic, I think only 3 of us stayed until the end). So, we started from the very beginning of motion picture history and moved slowly towards more recent work. Anyway, I think this flick was the 2nd one we watched during this course. Honestly, except for the funny masterpieces by/with Charles Chaplin, I always found it difficult to get really interested in silent movies. But don't misinterpret my words though! I do enjoy other silent movies but they never really blow me away and this movie is a good example. Basically, it is one of the famous movies representing the German expressionism and it was indeed quite gorgeous to look at. However, even though the story was intriguing, I got restless due to the lack of dialogs and I had a hard time investing myself in the story and the characters. Anyway, it is still a beautiful and fascinating movie though.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 993 Average listal rating (655 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.3
The Kid (1921)

Notes: Even though Charles Chaplin had been directing many movies as far back as 1914, I actually consider this movie his official directing debut since it was his first full length feature. Anyway, back then, when it was released it was obviously a tremendous critical and commercial success. Back in those days, Chaplin was already a big player thanks to the success of his marvelous short movies but with this new long format, he was clearly displaying his ambition to reach some new creative heights. In my opinion, he was still experimenting how far he could go with the Tramp so I don't think it was as good as his later work such as 'Modern Times' or 'The Great Dictator' but it doesn't change the fact that it was yet another enchanting movie with some hilarious bits but with some social consciousness as well. Jackie Coogan who played the title character was also pretty impressive and became in fact the first major child star in the movie business. Eventually, even though it might not be one of Chaplin's best movies, it is still a great classic.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 149 Average listal rating (68 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.3

Notes: From the few movies I have seen directed by D.W. Griffith, it might be the best one so far. Indeed, I was quite impressed by this lavish production, especially for a movie made more than 100 years ago. However, I have to admit that I was at first slightly worried when they kept hammering the fact that the government following the French Revolution was ‘Bolshevik’. Fortunately, the damned thing still turned out to be fairly accurate, at least, according to what I learned back then in school growing up in France. Seriously, I was actually quite impressed by how the Aristocrats were described as decadent, seriously rotten and even quite repulsive. The contrast with the filthy leaving conditions of the commoners was so huge, it also felt quite accurate and the end-result was such a polarized society which was ready to explode at any moment. All this was actually seriously well done and quite fascinating but, to be honest, I’m not so sure if I really cared about the gloomy tale of these 2 orphan sisters. It was also rather intriguing that these 2 sisters who were not actual sisters were played by 2 women who were actually sisters in real life (Lillian Gish and Dorothy Gish). Anyway, it was basically another typical dark and gloomy drama, a genre really loved by Griffith. Still, even if it was all quite theatrical and melodramatic, it was so well put together and it was seriously entertainaing, even after 150 mins.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 1724 Average listal rating (1004 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 7.9

Notes: This movie is almost a 100 years old... How awesome is that! It is black and white, it is silent and yet it is totally spellbinding. I wonder how many so-called horror fans still have to watch this masterpiece? Basically, it is simply the first and ultimate vampire flick, no more no less. In my opinion and a view shared by the gross majority of the film community, it is still an amazing feature and all the vampire flicks made after that became its legacy. On top of that, not only is it a great horror classic but it is also a fine example of German expressionism. Furthermore, who was this guy Max Schreck anyway?!? He gave here one of the weirdest performances you'll ever see but it totally worked. He was so convincing that there was even this legend is that Schreck's otherworldly performance as Nosferatu was due to the fact that he was in reality a vampire. Willem Dafoe portrayed him as such, playing the vampire Count Orlok in 'Shadow of the Vampire', another movie that you should absolutely watch.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 344 Average listal rating (183 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.7

Notes: Well, I was seriously impressed by this movie, that's for sure. First of all, I have always been interested in documentaries so it was just really neat to see this movie which is usually considered as the very first movie in this genre. Indeed, Robert Flaherty, probably not consciously, set many of the ground rules of the genre and most of the documentaries made nowadays still use these rules. Obviously, many criticised this movie because many (maybe all) of the scenes were actually staged but this criticism is rather ridiculous in my opinion. Indeed, can you imagine shooting with such 100 years old cameras in such terrible conditions without setting up first the scenes? Even nowadays, they still make up some stuff. Anyway, the bottom line is, was it faithful or not? You bet it was. Indeed, with this movie, you get a fascinating look on the life of Eskimos and even though this movie is nowadays almost 100 years old, it never felt condescending. Anyway, this movie was a huge milestone in motion picture history.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 152 Average listal rating (74 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.1
Foolish Wives (1922)

Notes: Honestly, I think it's rather difficult to review this flick. Indeed, even though it was rather long (more than 130 minutes), especially for a silent feature, it was actually supposed to be 6 hours! After watching the whole thing, you wonder how Eric von Stroheim managed to get 6 hours from this story but, I guess, we’ll never know. So, how can you review a movie when you have seen only a fraction of it? Many of us (include myself) blame Peter Jackson for indulging himself with overlong movies but, with von Stroheim, it goes to a whole different level and he must have been one of the most decadent directors that ever lived. As a matter of fact, at the time, this movie was the most expensive ever made and it figures. Indeed, even though the action takes place in Monte Carlo, and it seems as if they went there to make the movie, they actually recreated the whole thing at Universal Studios with some impressive accuracy in the details. Personally, I enjoyed above all von Stroheim who, of course, played the lead and he gave one of the best silent performances I have seen. To be honest, even though I have a weak spot for con-artists, nothing much happened during the whole thing but it was still pretty good though.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 57 Average listal rating (31 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 8

Notes: To be honest, I was at first rather annoyed that the only available version available on YouTube was colorized. However, I have to admit that, as soon as they got to Antarctica, the damned thing looked amazing with these vast white landscapes against this bright blue sky. I also expected these explorers to go straight to the South Pole but it was interesting that they first settled for a while in Antarctica when they arrived. Seriously, I forgot how long they stayed there but they definitely spent many months out there before finally starting their final journey to the South Pole. This way, it allowed Herbert Ponting to shoot so many interesting scenes displaying some incredible landscapes and some of the fauna that you can find in this remote region. While watching the damned thing, I actually forgot that it was the very first time that anyone shot this kind of images in this particular place which makes this movie historically incredibly valuable. Anyway, at last, during the final act, they did really go up to the South Pole and the whole team who went there, well, they all died actually. Not only it was surprising because it was definitely a tragic outcome for an otherwise rather cheerful expedition but it was a shot in a way that you (at least, I did) believed that Ponting also came along but it wasn’t in the case so how did they come up with this footage? Eventually, it seems that a lot of it was staged, just like with ‘Nanook of the North, another documentary dealing with the Artic also released in the 20’s.
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People who added this item 280 Average listal rating (130 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.9

Notes: Eventually, I believe it’s the craziest and wildest movie I have seen so far directed by Fritz Lang. That’s really the cool thing about movies which were made back then. Sure, they didn’t have the technological tools and gadgets that we have today but, instead, they had much more freedom and the creativity displayed in this movie was just impressive. As a result, it did seem that Lang thought he could do whatever he wanted which did result with this massive running time and, of course, you might wonder if this movie really required around 270 mins. Sure, I have to admit that it was quite a marathon to watch and, yet, the damned thing worked actually pretty well. Indeed, the fact that you spend so much time with this story and these characters made it much more intense than if it would have been 90 mins. As a result, Lang had also the possibility to indulge in some visually weird scenes. It was also pretty neat that the main character was actually the bad guy and, as usual, the bad guy is always more interesting than the good guys. Indeed, in this case, Mabuse was called a gambler but he was actually so much more than that and the guy was actually quite fascinating. Rudolf Klein-Rogge should also be praised as he played in this movie so many different versions of the infamous Dr. Mabuse. It was so cool that, even though the audience could always spot him, it always made sense that the other characters wouldn’t recognize him which was so clever and so well done.
johanlefourbe's rating:

Notes: Eventually, it is quite a weird flick, some very old documentary (almost 100 years old now) dealing with some even older superstitions mainly involving witchcraft in the Middle-Ages. It is rather funny that it is considered a horror flick when it is supposed to be a documentary. I mean, there were some rather eerie stuff, I’ll give you that but it doesn’t really qualify as ‘horror’, at least, that’s my opinion. Honestly, the whole thing feels pretty dated nowadays and you might wonder if it was really scientifically accurate. Still, even though the educational aspect might be questionable, it was still an interesting watch and it has definitely some historically value. It is also striking that the makers were rather dismissive towards the Middle-Ages beliefs but the way they put ‘hysteria’ on some vastly varied mental diseases was quite priceless (of course, in the 20’s, psychology was a rather new science). Anyway, I’m not really sure if it is really a great flick but it is still a very intriguing movie.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 350 Average listal rating (206 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.1

Notes: I was really surprised to discover that this movie was not included in some major movie lists such as ‘1001 Movies You Must Before You Die’ or ‘They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They?’ (Roger Ebert did include it in his ‘Great Movies’ list though). Indeed, it is rather weird since this movie does include arguably the most iconic scene displayed in a silent comedy which was obviously when Harold Lloyd was dangling from a clock on a top of a building. This scene was and still is the stuff of legends, even if it was debunked years later by a stuntman. Indeed, there were actually some security measures, for example, they used a fake building front filmed in a way to capture the street below. Even so, Lloyd was still probably risking his life anyway and that’s the kind of stuff you don’t see anytime nowadays (even though you could say that Tom Cruise does indulge in some really hazardous stunts with his ‘Mission: Impossible’ franchise). Instead, nowadays, everything is done with some really fake CGI but should performers actually risk their life to entertain us? The weird thing is that I was never scared when Lloyd was doing his stunt which is a tribute to his mighty skills. Eventually, this scene was obviously amazing and quite unforgettable but, even though it tends to overshadow the rest of the movie, the whole thing was actually quite fun. Sure, the concept was pretty basic but Lloyd definitely made the most of it and most of the jokes were actually quite hilarious to behold.
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People who added this item 111 Average listal rating (52 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.7

Notes: It was another tricky short movie to analyse. Indeed, at first, it seemed to be about a rather lonely and depressed woman pretty much stuck at home and dealing with a rather weirdo husband. In fact, she never really smiled and looked grumpy through the whole duration. It’s only afterwards that I discovered that this movie had been directed by a woman which made the whole thing even more intriguing. In fact, it is usually considered as one of the first feminist movies ever made. It mostly due to the fact that the main character was a fairly regular woman while her husband was rather grotesque which was a really unusual approach back in the 1920’s. Anyway, I was above all intrigued by its visual aspect. Indeed, that’s the cool thing with such old movies, back then, all filmmakers had to experiment because the actual rules of filmmaking didn’t exist yet. In this case, they came up with something so striking, mixing some hyper realism with some surreal imagery. The end-result was therefore at once very pure and simple and yet quite complex as well. Of course, you could argue that the plot was really simplistic but that’s not where lies the power of this movie. Indeed, above all, it had a strong visual aspect and I wonder if this movie could have been an inspiration for David Lynch, the master mindf*cker.
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People who added this item 255 Average listal rating (154 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.8

Notes: Well, it was definitely quite entertaining. First of all, even though it was shot almost 100 years ago (by the way, the version I saw on YouTube was of a pristine quality, it’s too bad there was some interruptions every 5 minutes for some damned commercials), the action was taking place almost a 100 years before so Keaton had obviously a lot of fun recreating this time period. Indeed, New York was pretty much unrecognizable and there was a long sequence involving the strangest little train I have ever seen. In fact, this train was actually accurate to the time period. There was also a hilarious vintage bicycle at the beginning. Concerning the story itself, it might sound like a drama but, in the hands of Keaton, it became quite a farce with many incredible stunts and even more visual gags. To be honest, at the end of the day, I have to admit that it was still slightly too random for my taste. Furthermore, you might wonder if the material was enough for a feature length movie as every joke was stretched for quite some time so a shorter version might have been more effective. Anyway, it was still definitely a solid silent comedy.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 330 Average listal rating (132 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.1
Greed (1925)

Notes: Of course, I heard the legends, that it was supposed to be actually at least 4 hours long (there are even rumors of a whopping 8 hours version) so I was expecting to watch a mutilated masterpiece. Well, to be honest, I was really surprised that the movie worked so well in this shorter version and I have my doubts that this longer version would have been such a huge improvement. After all, it is this shorter version which has been hailed as one of the best movies ever made, not any other possible version. Anyway, how was the damned thing after all? I have to admit that, with this title and with the starting scenes, I thought it would be dealing with a greedy gold miner, a little bit like in ‘The Treasure of the Sierra Madre’. However, it was after all about an average guy who became a dentist, got married but it was his wife who really got greedy after winning big at the lottery. It was basically an interesting cautionary tale showing how becoming rich can eventually make you completely miserable. The interesting thing was that their situation became really dramatic after he lost his job as a dentist but I wonder why he didn't just simply close shop temporarily, go to a dentist school, get a degree and reopen his practice. Anyway, it was a rather dark tale and, in fact, none of the characters had really some redeeming features. My favorite one was probably McTeague himself, not exactly a hero and even a rather simple man and, yet, Gibson Gowland was still super charismatic playing this part.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 568 Average listal rating (364 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 8.2
Sherlock, Jr. (1924)

Notes: To be honest, so far, after watching around 5 of his movies, I can’t say I have become a huge fan of Buster Keaton's work. However, since this movie had a rather stellar reputation, I was quite eager to check it out. Well, I wasn't disappointed, that's for sure. Indeed, the damned thing was a total blast and easily one of the best silent comedies I have seen so far. Indeed, as usual with Keaton, the whole thing was quite random but, in the contrary to his other movies, it worked fine here. Basically, most of the duration was just a dream but it didn't stop here as they also gave us a 'movie within a movie'. In fact, it was probably the first time this gimmick was ever used but it was visually quite clever and actually very well done. Anyway, from the moment Keaton went through this screen, pretty much everything became possible and it became one of the most freewheeling movie experiences I ever had. Indeed, it was so wild and I don't how many times I was gasping at the insane scenes that Keaton gave us combining some magic tricks, some marvellous daredevil stunts and even some awesome pool trick shots. There were a couple of times I even had no clue how they actually pulled this off. Anyway, the damned thing definitely deserves his awesome reputation and it is, in my opinion, Buster Keaton's magnum opus.
johanlefourbe's rating:

Notes: Even though it might seem to be a simple story (it is basically about a guy losing his job, not much more), I have to admit that I was really impressed by the sheer power of its visuals and of the performances, especially by Emil Jannings who played the main character. It’s only afterwards that I discovered that Jannings, arguably one of the best actors of all time, was actually a major Nazi supporter and I’m glad I didn’t know that before watching the damned thing. Anyway, it was still a powerful movie, so powerful, that they didn’t have to use a single title card for the dialogues. Seriously, it was quite impressive and there was not a single moment while what was going on was not crystal clear. Furthermore, it was such a sad movie, probably one of the saddest I have seen so far. The saddest part, at least for me, was when his neighborhood found out that he had actually lost his job and was pretending to still be a doorman. Indeed, for some reason, maybe I’m too optimistic but I was expecting them to be supportive but, eventually, they were all mocking him which was just so cruel but I guess it was actually true to human nature, I’m afraid. There was also this rather weird and ridiculous happy ending coming from nowhere. Apparently, the producers forced F.W. Murnau and Carl Mayer to end up with something else and more upbeat than the inevitable death of the poor doorman but since they really hated this idea, they went for something really far-fetched and cynical. At first, this ending really bothered me but, the more I think about it, the more I believe it was actually quite brilliant.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 159 Average listal rating (104 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.7
The Navigator (1924)

Notes: To be honest, the way this boat ended up drifting on the open sea was seriously convoluted but it was obviously not the point of this movie. Indeed, the whole point was to have these two completely clueless characters stuck on this huge ship only by themselves and as soon as they got the messy introduction out of the way, the whole thing became seriously entertaining. For example, at some point, the two characters kept running after each other, going up and down the same stairs, completely symmetrically, and I just loved the perfect rhythm displayed this scene. Of course, it was all pretty random but it didn’t bother me as it was very well done and just so much fun to behold. The poster also pretty much spoiled it but there was also a rather impressive underwater scene involving some diving suit which somehow reminded me of some old vintage Tintin comic-book I used to read as a kid. On the downside, to be honest, I thought that the scenes involving some obscure black tribe were rather racist and I wish there would have been some text explaining that they were more than just some cannibal savages. Of course, you could argue that it was inherent to the time period but I just didn’t care much for it. At least, the fact that the two main characters were extremely dim-witted made it easier to swallow.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 232 Average listal rating (112 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.7

Notes: To be honest, I usually have a hard time to watch silent features. Indeed, I think it's pretty tough to sit through a full length feature without any dialogs, especially when it is about 3 hours long. However, I had a good time to watch this one though because it was actually quite fun. Indeed, it is a great adventure, a real escapist feature, and I thought it was more entertaining than all those heavy dramas directed by D.W. Griffith for example. I especially enjoyed the first part when you have Douglas Fairbanks making some trouble in Bagdad’s market. To be honest, as soon as he fell in love with the princess, the whole thing lost some steam and I preferred when he was just a devilish thief. Also, the fact that ‘Aladdin’, one of my favorites Disney animated features, was basically a remake of this old classic, might have played a part in the fact that I didn’t completely enjoy this feature since I already knew most of the plot. Furthermore, the thief, as a character, is actually more fun than Aladdin but you miss the genius and, with a running time around 140 minutes, it was just too long for its own good. Still, it is definitely a fun and entertaining movie.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 973 Average listal rating (631 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.2

Notes: What can be said about this movie that hasn’t been said so many times before? Basically, it is pure and simply another impressive piece of cinema coming from Charles Chaplin and it is probably even better than 'The Circus' which I also loved. In fact, I have actually a nice story about this flick. Many years ago, I showed this movie to my step-children because I thought it was important for their education. Back then, Nick, my step-son, was only 8 years old but, suddenly, out of nowhere, 7 ears later, during one of our endless conversations about movies, Nick started to precisely described in details the famous scene when the Tramp eats his shoe. Seriously, it was quite something and it shows the huge impact of this movie (but it could be said about anything done by this guy). Myself, I started to watch this movie when I was just a kid and, already then, I thought it was just fascinating and completely hilarious.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 227 Average listal rating (130 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.6

Notes: I was surprised to find out that it was actually Sergei Eisenstein's directorial debut as the damned thing was quite complex and ambitious for a first-timer. Still, to be honest, I have to admit that I had actually a rather hard time to get into the damned thing though. The fact that such Soviet propaganda movies actually never focused on the characters individually and instead handled the working class as one single character probably didn’t help. On the other hand, I have to admit that it was just quite inspiring and exhilarating to see this crowd of working men rising up all together against their bosses but also the whole system in general. Even if you believe that Communism and Socialism were the worst possible thing in the world, there was a time when an alternative was actually possible. At least, for a short while, it was explored and this alternative did provide something else than our current endless chase after financial profits and personal gain. The final act during which the ruthless repression took place was also strong and, unfortunately, felt quite realistic. It’s interesting that, when you read other reviews, they mostly focus on the technical aspects of this movie which was, for the time, apparently quite groundbreaking, but, to be honest, I didn’t focus too much on that.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 61 Average listal rating (30 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.6
The Eagle (1925)

Notes: It was pretty neat to see for the first time a movie starring Rudolf Valentino who was basically the Tom Cruise of the Silent era. Concerning the movie itself, well, it was entertaining enough but, to be honest, I thought it was too random for my taste though. Indeed, it all started with a rather dashing action scene but then, it became some kind of romantic-comedy during which the main character was dodging the sexual advances of the Czarina. However, it didn’t last long ever, as the Czarina pretty much disappeared from the movie and the rest was about Valentino’s character trying to avenge his father. But even this revenge thing completely disappeared at the end when he ended up with the girl of his dreams. Eventually, the most interesting aspect about this story was the fact that the main character was plotting to kill a man while falling in love with his daughter. Unfortunately, the tone was much too light to really dig deeper into these conflicting feelings. Anyway, as you can see, it was all pretty messy but the whole thing did look good and Valentino was definitely quite charismatic. Indeed, he approached the lead character not as a super strong macho archetype (in spite of the impressive opening scene) but more as a subtle sensual being. As a result, he was often considered by the male audience back in those days as being too effeminate but the female audience, in the other hand, was completely fascinated by him.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 197 Average listal rating (130 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.9
Seven Chances (1925)

Notes: From all the Buster Keaton movies I have seen so far, even it actually has a solid reputation, it was the one which impressed me the least. I mean, it was still fun but there were a couple of things that did bother me. For example, there were a few black characters involved, more than you would usually get in a Keaton feature, which wasn’t a bad thing but the way they were represented was more than questionable. Furthermore, I’m pretty sure that there was even a white dude wearing some blackface make-up which was just so downright offensive, even if it was probably rather common back in those days. Concerning the rest of the movie, it was basically a classic comedic gimmick which has been used so many times afterwards but it wasn’t really great (In fact, even Keaton himself apparently didn’t care much for it either). Furthermore, I wonder if it wouldn’t have better worked as a short feature. Indeed, with only around 25 mins of the running time, I would have started almost right away with the newspaper ad (everything happening before was only mildly amusing). From that point on, the whole thing became some kind of endless chase involving Keaton and seemingly hundreds of women running after him and even if it was maybe not the most original thing in the world, it still worked fine though. Basically, not only it was visually really neat but the damned thing finally became seriously entertaining to behold.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 882 Average listal rating (544 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8

Notes: To be honest, it has been a while since I have this flick and I should probably re-watch it at some point. By now, I have seen many very old classics and I have noticed that it is very often hit-and-miss with such timeless features. Indeed, with some of them, I could see right away why they have been heralded through all the years but, for some others, it seems more that they were groundbreaking when they were released but they seem to be rather dated nowadays. Well, in this case, with this movie, it thought it was pretty good and, from a technical point of view, Eisenstein was quite a genius who came up with some movie technics that were never used before but, still, was it really such a fascinating story? I’m not so sure. I mean, it is probably the best propaganda film ever made but, even so, the propaganda genre has its limitations and, as a result, this movie still didn’t really blow me away. Anyway, even if it didn’t become one of my all time favorite movies, it was still a really interesting watch and it is definitely worth a look.
johanlefourbe's rating:

Notes: First of all, is it really a horror feature? To be honest, I thought the damned thing was actually sometimes pretty funny above all because of the mannered acting of those silent movies. I mean, with a Charles Chaplin movie, it works like a charm but with a horror flick like this one, it makes you chuckle on a regular basis. Furthermore, even though at first I was quite happy with the awesome classic music, it was actually rather distracting because, since it wasn’t especially composed for this movie, it often didn’t fit at all the action. Still, the production value was quite impressive, especially for a movie made almost 100 years ago, and there was definitely something dark and ominous about the whole thing, especially the awesome bal masqué with the Phantom disguised as the Red Death. And, of course, you had Lon Chaney. Man, this guy was impressive, playing one hell of a psycho, and to think he designed himself his own make-up was even more astonishing (apparently, it is something he took care of in all his movies).
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 749 Average listal rating (486 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.1
The General (1926)

Notes: Even though I'm a huge fan of Charles Chaplin, having seen all his full length directing efforts and many of his shorts, I must admit that I'm pretty much ignorant concerning Buster Keaton. As a matter of fact, before watching this flick, I had never seen any of his movies! I know, shame on me... As you can imagine, I had some huge expectations before watching the damned thing and, to be honest, I have to admit that I was actually a little bit disappointed. I mean, it was pretty good and I definitely enjoyed it but I can't say I was blown away like I was with Chaplin's movies. I don't know, it was definitely funny but I never really cared about the main character and what he was going through. Eventually, even though Buster Keaton always said that this was his favorite movie, it was a huge flop and Keaton slowly disappeared into obscurity. Still, there were some impressive stunts (no CGI back then) and there is no doubt that Keaton can be sometimes really hilarious...
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 142 Average listal rating (82 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.6

Notes: I always felt bad that discovered Buster Keaton so late. Well, it took me even longer to see my first movie starring Harold Lloyd but, at least, it was definitely worth the wait, that’s for sure. First of all, I saw a restored version on YouTube and I must say I was amazed by its pristine quality which you wouldn’t expect from a silent movie already almost 100 years old. Concerning the movie itself, it was apparently Harold Lloyd’s favorite among all his films so I got lucky to discover his work with, allegedly, one of his best movies. Sure, like most silent comedies, the whole thing was rather random but I thought the story was actually fairly well developed. Above all, the damned thing was just so entertaining. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I saw such a hilarious silent movie. Basically, the whole thing is an endless succession of very clever gags and I was amazed that so many of them worked so well. In fact, there were so many, I don’t think I could pick up any of them as a favorite and, maybe, that’s a downside, but I think it was more a luxury problem.
johanlefourbe's rating:

Notes: I saw a version for which the background music was a piano solo by some guy called Craig Michael Davis and his music was just really neat. Seriously, it was so soothing, I don’t think I ever felt so relaxed while watching a silent picture. Concerning the movie itself, it was quite intriguing as it gave a good look on Berlin, almost 100 years ago at such a specific time period, not even 10 years after the WWI ended and slightly more than 10 years before the WWII would start. It also gave the feeling that you were experiencing a single day in the city even if it was obviously shot during a much longer time period. To be honest, even if it was technically very well made, I thought the editing was actually rather dazzling. Indeed, there were so many quick cuts lasting a split second but what was even more problematic, at least, for me, was that the longest scene did last maybe 30 seconds. It means that sometimes they would film something really neat or surprising or incomprehensible but, instead of spending maybe 5 mins to fully exploit the potential of this moment, after a few seconds, they would cut to something else. As a result, it made the whole thing rather exhausting to behold and there were a couple of times during which my mind just wandered off as I was losing focus facing this endless cascade of quick cuts and very tiny little bits of scenes. Anyway, from a historical point of view, it is still a really interesting movie.
johanlefourbe's rating:

Notes: Well, it’s the 3rd movie I watched directed by Sergei Eisenstein and it was probably the most difficult one I have seen so far. While watching this movie, I tried to remember what I did learn at school about the 1917 October Revolution but it was more than 20 years ago and this movie certainly didn’t give any background information. Eventually, the end-result was some kind of endless feverish dream dealing with the uprising that took place at the time in Russia. Seriously, the damned thing was quite relentless and I don’t think they took a minute to breath and provide the viewers with the opportunity to absorb what they just watched. By now, I got pretty much used to the fact such Soviet propaganda movies actually never focused on the characters individually but, still, it was interesting that Lenin was mentioned only a couple of times (Vasili Nikandrov was a stunning look-a-like though). For Trotsky, the situation was even worse as, even though he did show up a couple of times, his name was never mentioned and, in fact, Eisenstein had to remove most of the footage dealing with him which shows how things can change in only 10 years. Eventually, what impressed me the most with this movie was the frenetic editing. Eisenstein’s idea was to edit together some shots of various things which apparently had nothing to do with each other to create an intellectual comparisons between them which was quite intriguing.
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People who added this item 651 Average listal rating (375 ratings) 8.6 IMDB Rating 8.1

Notes: From all the movies I have seen so far directed by Murnau, to be honest, it was the one that did impress me the least. It’s interesting because all the reviews I read afterwards were gushing about how this movie was above all a technical marvel. In fact, I find it rather hard to judge such an old movie on this aspect alone. Indeed, we have been so accustomed to see such elaborate modern movies, I mean, visually speaking, and I tend to forget how difficult, even impossible, it was to come up with such striking visuals back then without the usual modern tricks and gadgets. Still, I have to admit that I was quite impressed by the superimposition of several images, it was just so clever and very well done, especially for the time period. So, sure, it really did deserve all the praises it had received, at least, on a technical level, but, eventually, I just really struggled with the story though. At least, the beginning was intriguing. Indeed, in spite of the title, it was actually pretty bleak with this unnamed man plotting to kill his wife as suggested by his mistress. However, this plot was resolved rather quickly and, then, during the 2nd act, you had this couple who suddenly were in love again doing some really random stuff in the city. Well, even if some of the scenes were a technical marvel, this couple was actually rather tedious to behold. On the other hand, I have to admit that the final act with this huge storm was quite spectacular but, all in all, to be honest, I just didn’t care much for this story. Anyway, even if it didn’t blow me away, it is another major classic van F.W. Murnau though.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 1989 Average listal rating (1048 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.3
Metropolis (1927)

Notes: In fact, I had actually already seen this movie but it was only once and it was ages ago with my sister. I remember it very well, I saw this movie during the 100th birthday anniversary of Cinema and I was able see it on the big screen (which was very cool) but, unfortunately, the copy they managed to get was in such a very bad shape that they had to stop the show every 10 minutes to fix it up (which was completely not cool...). As a result, it wasn't really a rewarding experience and a re-watch was pretty much a must. Eventually, after all these years, I finally saw the damned thing again and it was definitely worth it. Indeed, it was quite extraordinary how insane and visionary this movie was. To be honest, the pacing was not always amazing and the lack of dialogues made the whole thing still rather sluggish (the fact that there was no real complete version didn't help either I guess) but, still, it is definitely the first Science-Fiction masterpiece and, almost 100 years later, it still holds up very well.
johanlefourbe's rating:

Notes: This movie was quite mind-blowing and it really deserves its reputation as one of the best silent movies. Indeed, if nowadays, movies are dominated by huge blockbusters with some wall-to-wall CGI, well this movie is the complete opposite. Indeed, this movie is rather minimalistic and focuses on the trial of Jeanne D’Arc, so it is mostly indoors dominated by the dialogs between Jeanne and the juges and you barely get a glimpse of the (allegedly) really expensive decors ordered by Carl Theodor Dreyer. From the moment that Maria Falconetti shows up on the screen, I knew she was something else. Nowadays, her performance is still considered as one of the best ever given on the silver screen and it was indeed really impressive. You can imagine that Dreyer must have messed her up pretty bad to get this numb expression, her face is one you will never forget. This movie has also many layers. From an historical point of view, you can see that the Church, a powerful political force at the time, felt threatened by this girl who was amazingly popular among the French people and argued she had a direct connection with God. You can also read that it is a tale about Fanaticism. Fanaticism from Jeanne who goes to war after speaking to God and Fanaticism from her judges who will kill her because she doesn’t follow their dogma.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 484 Average listal rating (323 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.1

Notes: Apparently, this movie was the last one Charles Chaplin made during the silent era and it is yet another flick I have seen many times when I was a kid. Indeed, I remember it very well. At some point, the greatest classics directed by Charles Chaplin were broadcast on one of the French channels and my mother recorded all of them. Eventually, I was really grateful and I ended up watching this movie so many times back then. Personally, I tend to prefer this one over 'City Lights' but, I have to admit it, it is mostly pure our of pure nostalgia, I guess. Anyway, even though the plot was basically pretty basic, the whole thing worked amazingly well. Indeed, even though I'm usually a tough customer concerning comedies, I thought this one was just downright hilarious and completely entertaining from the beginning until the end. Eventually, the only thing that might have prevented this movie from becoming even better was probably the fact that there was no actual plot and the whole thing was therefore pretty random. Anyway, I still loved the damned thing.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 66 Average listal rating (29 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.5

Notes: To be honest, for some long stretches, nothing much really happened after all. I mean, basically, it is a very simple story and you might wonder if it really needed almost 2 hrs of running time but Erich von Stroheim has always been rather notorious for overindulging himself (that some people would love to watch a 8 hrs version of ‘Greed’ remains rather bewildering to me). However, there is no doubt that von Stroheim was basically born to play such characters, even if he was probably too old to play this character (I was not surprised to find out that Maude George, who played his mother in this movie, was actually three years younger than him). On top of that, I have to admit that I was actually really caught by surprise by the ending. Indeed, even though most of the movie was really romantic, there were 2 scenes that really stood out. First of all, even though Nicky seemed to be head over heels for Mitzy, he still went to a brothel spending hours with countless prostitutes which wasn’t exactly what you would expect from such a romantic feature. However, it actually did fit the character after all. Even more surprising was the ending though. Indeed, I was so sure that Nicky would dump Cecilia to end up with Mitzi but, no, he actually went for the money which was so dark and cynical but that’s actually how people worked (and probably still do) and it was such a strong ending.
johanlefourbe's rating:

Notes: I thought it was pretty good, even probably one of my favorite movies starring Buster Keaton. Indeed, it was slightly less random than his usual work, even if the monkey still showed up pretty much from nowhere. However, I have to admit that this little monkey was actually pretty awesome though. On top of that, it was by far Keaton’s most romantic feature, at least, among the movies he has made that I have seen so far. As a result, of course, the jokes and stunts were still the main focus but, in my opinion, Keaton’s character was actually very well balanced. Indeed, I don’t think he was a complete loser. Sure, he was seriously clumsy, even pretty much a walking disaster but he was also so much more charismatic than all the other guys that tried to hook up with the character played by the charming Marceline Day. Eventually, I wasn’t so surprised that she would fall for him. And yet, even though there was absolutely nothing wrong with this movie and I mostly enjoyed it, to be honest, I have to admit that it never grabbed me though but it’s usually the case with Keaton’s movies. It’s so weird because I’m actually a huge fan of Chaplin’s silent comedies. Maybe it’s because I grew up with Chaplin’s work while I discovered Keaton’s work much later on as a grown-up.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 133 Average listal rating (74 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.5

Notes: It’s only when I started to watch this movie that I discovered that it was actually directed by Josef von Sternberg and I’m pretty sure it was the first movie I saw from the famous director. It is interesting to note that, even though this movie is nowadays highly regarded, it was actually barely noticed when it was released because was it was one of the last films of the silent era and, at the time, everyone was more obsessed about the first talkies coming out, even if they were not really that good. Concerning George Bancroft, he was some kind of combination of Jean Gabin with John C. Reilly and I wonder if I have ever saw him before. Anyway, I thought he was pretty good. Concerning the movie itself, it turned out to be an interesting combination of dark and grim realism with an almost fairy-tale like romance. The best example would be the wedding which is often considered as the most famous scene in this movie. Indeed, on one hand, it might seem pretty sordid and it was rather obvious that Bill Roberts wouldn’t keep his vows and, and yet, Mae actually believed in this ceremony while the crowd around them was not exactly sweet and gentle and these strong contrasts were really interesting. It’s too bad they didn’t develop more the characters though but, on the other, the fact that we knew so very little about them automatically made them more mysterious and intriguing.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 107 Average listal rating (46 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.1

Notes: For some time now, I have been watching some Soviet movies but this one was easily one of the most intriguing I have seen so far. First of all, the first thing that impressed me was the editing. Indeed, except for a couple of scenes with a rather poor transition, it was actually really tight and super effective, especially compared to most of the other Soviet movies I have seen recently. The other interesting aspect of this movie was that it gave a really different perspective on the Russian revolution. If this perspective was actually accurate, of course, it’s a different story though. I have to admit it, it’s only afterwards that I understood that the soldiers in Mongolia were actually British but, in fact, the British were never in Mongolia back then. Anyway, Russia was, and still is, a huge country including so many various peoples and cultures and it was really interesting to see the Russian revolution and civil war from a different point of view, even if the end-result was hardly objective since it was a propaganda piece. The approach chosen was that, even at the far corners of Mongolia, there was also a class struggle taking place and the people also had to rise up against the capitalist oppressor. Unfortunately, as usual with such Soviet propaganda movies, the characters were not developed whatsoever but something that bothered me even more was the randomness of the whole thing but it is also inherent to the genre, I’m afraid.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 65 Average listal rating (35 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.6
Spies (1928)

Notes: Even if ‘Metropolis’ would eventually turned out to be a timeless masterpiece, it also turned out to be seriously expansive, so Fritz Lang decided to make this following directorial effort on the cheap but it was apparently a big success when it was released. And, indeed, I have to admit that I really enjoyed this mix of romance, thriller and comedy with all these genres sometimes colliding in the very same scene. I also enjoyed the concept of a super spy falling in love with a femme fatale without noticing that she was also a spy even if it was actually pretty obvious. Still, even if it was a decent watch, the damned thing was still too long for my taste and, to be honest, the story was really rambling. Finally, the fact that the main Asian character was actually played by a guy from Romania was rather disappointing, even if it was something rather usual back in those days. Still, I really enjoyed the theatrical and expressionist acting and, even if there were properly too many characters involved, they were all so colorful and quite entertaining to behold. My favorite one was probably the character played by the lovely Gerda Maurus who was just so charismatic with her deep blue eyes. Anyway, even if it didn’t completely blow me away, it was still a decent silent feature.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 288 Average listal rating (187 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.9

Notes: Even though I'm a huge fan of Charlie Chaplin, I must confess, I have always been kind of oblivious about Buster Keaton. Indeed, so far I only saw 'The General' which didn't really blow me away. Anyway, this was my second movie starring Keaton and I really enjoyed it though. Basically, the plot was some kind of typical 'Romeo and Juliet' tale and it was a good excuse to get some funny jokes and spectacular stunts. And that's also probably the reason I still prefer Chaplin to Keaton. Indeed, even though Chaplin's work was also constantly hilarious, there was also this amazing poetic tone and/or some really deep thoughtfulness and I kind of missed that in Keaton's movies. I mean, it was a really funny flick and I was laughing my ass off more than once and some of the physical stunts were just amazing and became deservedly quite legendary but I think that it was basically the whole point of this production, to make us laugh and surprise the audience but it stopped there and it didn't go the extra mile like the movies of Chaplin. Still, I definitely have to watch more movies from this guy.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 557 Average listal rating (307 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 8.4

Notes: First of all, I must admit it, after 5 minutes, I stopped the whole thing and put some of my own music. I don’t know, the prospect of watching an hour long feature without any dialogs, music, or any sound of any kind was a rather daunting prospect. Maybe it was a mistake from my side but I was rather glad with my music selection. Basically, this movie is quite unique. It is almost 100 years old, and it is not some fiction but not a documentary either. Basically, it is something quite different. It seemed to be some kind of experiment to see how far you could go with a camera and those guys invented or developed many movie techniques in the process such as double exposure, fast motion, slow motion, freeze frames, jump cuts, split screens, extreme close-ups, tracking shots, footage played backwards, stop motion animation,… From an historical point of view, this movie is an amazing treasure. I mean, if you have any interest in movie as an Art form, it is a must see. However, I must confess, the whole thing was not really entertaining to watch. Indeed, it is basically a collection of random footage and the one scene has barely anything to do with another and even though there were some awesome shots, it was sometimes pretty tedious to watch. Still, it is a classic though.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 1220 Average listal rating (731 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.7

Notes: To be honest, it has been ages since I have seen this flick and I should probably re-watch it at some point. Anyway, it is probably the most famous surrealist movie ever made. Indeed, if the combination of Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali sounded awesome on paper, these guys didn’t disappoint and they definitely delivered one of the weirdest movies ever made. It is interesting that Buñuel’s career really flourish afterwards as he became arguably one of the greatest masters in this Art but you might wonder if Dali really cherished the experience since he wouldn’t be really involved in any other movie afterwards. In fact, they were supposed to work together again on ‘L’âge d’or’ but they had apparently a major falling out so Buñuel took care of it on his own. Anyway, even though the damned thing might not be an easy watch, it is a classic and pretty much a must-see for any decent movie buff.
johanlefourbe's rating:
People who added this item 39 Average listal rating (23 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.5

Notes: The production value was actually quite impressive as it all looked authentic and quite beautiful to look at. Furthermore, Charu Roy and Seeta Devi had a pretty good chemistry. However, concerning the story itself, well, it turned to be a cute Indian fairy tale but, to be honest, it wasn’t really much more than that. Indeed, the biggest issue, in my opinion, was that the famous throw of dice came up just way too late and, as a result, everything happening before felt too random. I mean, you might wonder why King Sohat didn’t plot this right from the start since it seemed to be a much easier and above all efficient way to overthrow King Ranjit. Then, when the fateful event finally took place, its aftermath didn’t last long since, within 5 mins, it was already discovered what actually really happened and the whole movie was even wrapped up within the next 10 mins. Still, it was easily the oldest Indian movie I have ever seen and, even though there was no wild dance scenes, it has been a huge precursor for the Bollywood production. Eventually, I was surprised that it was actually directed by a German guy called Franz Osten. Indeed, most US or European productions taking place in some ‘exotic’ country, even nowadays, will almost always include a white main character but Osten didn’t make this mistake here which I really did appreciate.
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