Wings

Wings. Paramount Pictures 1927.

Before watching the movie:

The machinery of the Public Domain has shuddered back to life and as with last year, new works are transferring ownership to the people. Perhaps most notably, the copyright on the final Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories finally expired, so it will be entertaining to see what shaky legal argument the Doyle Estate will come up with to try to continue to get money out of Holmes now. Also joining the Public Domain is The Jazz Singer, which has an enduring technical legacy and, I hear, little else to recommend it.

But the member of the PD class of 2023 that I’ve heard the most praise for is Wings. While I don’t recall hearing of it before now, it has not only a good reputation in story but also very impressive aerial cinematography for its time. I’m strongly reminded of Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, so much as I remember anything about it. While that movie was set in the first world war but made in the 1960s, it will be interesting to see how the 1920s retold WWI.

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The Lodger

The Lodger. Gainsborough Pictures 1927.
The Lodger. Gainsborough Pictures 1927.

Before watching the movie:

I got this in a box set of early Alfred Hitchcock films, which indicated it was Hitchcock’s first thriller. I’ve seen it described elsewhere as when Hitchcock came into his own. But I don’t know much about it beyond that it’s about a serial murderer and it’s silent.

I haven’t covered many silent films. I don’t dislike them, but they don’t usually attract me unless it’s something historically significant like The Birth of a Nation. Lack of color often enhances the tension in a movie, but I’m not sure if lack of sound will do the same or be a barrier to connecting with it. I’m expecting it to help though.

I have a hard time picturing a Hitchcock film without sound though. He does a lot of advanced camera and narrative techniques, and when I think of technique in the silent era, I think more about pioneering the basics than doing anything that can impress in its own right. I recognize this is patronizing, and I’m hoping this film will defy that notion.

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Metropolis

May is Non-Alliterative Silver Screen Classic Movie Month!

Metropolis. Universum Film 1927.

Before watching the movie:

For such a historically important movie, I’ve heard surprisingly little about this. Again. I’m not even sure off-hand why it’s important, because I want to say “first science fiction film”, but that ought to be Meli├Ęs’s A Journey From the Earth to the Moon.

The robot Maria is pretty much the only thing people mention about this film, to the point that she’s the icon for it. But the skant summary I’ve found doesn’t indicate her role in it at all.

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