Crime Shorts, Silent Cinema and July 2012 in Films

I watched nearly 100 new-to-me films this month! That’s not a lot compared to my numbers last year, but this year that is just crazy talk. Mostly it was because of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and the 50 films in the Warner Archive’s Crime Does Not Pay set. I worked a crazy amount of hours at the two movie theaters that now employ me (the Lumiere and the Clay, two of San Francisco’s greatest!) and worked a lot on my feature screenplay, as well as wrote a short that might actually get filmed. Speaking of which, my friend for whom I wrote the short, has a documentary making its way around the festivals right now that you should check out. It is called Dharavi Diary and it is fantastic. As always, my picks for the month as well as the whole list is after the cut.

  1. To Rome With Love
  2. Six Degrees of Separation
  3. Gow the Head Hunter
  4. The Amazing Spider-Man
  5. Taps
  6. Regarding Henry
  7. Another Country
  8. Brave
  9. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  10. Take This Waltz
  11. Gregory’s Girl
  12. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
  13. Time Bandits
  14. Little Toys
  15. The Love of Pharaoh
  16. Mantrap
  17. The Wonderful Lie of Nina Petrovna
  18. Felix Loses Out
  19. Felix Trips Thru Toyland
  20. Felix the Cat Weathers Weather
  21. Felix the Cat in Blunderland
  22. Felix in Jungle Bungles
  23. Felix in Eskimotive
  24. Felix Flirts with Fate
  25. The Spanish Dancer
  26. The Canadian
  27. South
  28. Erotikon
  29. Stella Dallas (1925)
  30. Crime Does Not Pay: Buried Loot
  31. Crime Does Not Pay: Alibi Racket
  32. Crime Does Not Pay: Desert Death
  33. Crime Does Not Pay: A Thrill For Thelma
  34. Crime Does Not Pay: Hit and Run Driver
  35. Crime Does Not Pay: The Perfect Set-Up
  36. Crime Does Not Pay: Foolproof
  37. Crime Does Not Pay: Public Pays
  38. Crime Does Not Pay: Torture Money
  39. Crime Does Not Pay: It May Happen To You
  40. Crime Does Not Pay: Soak the Poor
  41. Crime Does Not Pay: Give Till It Hurts
  42. Crime Does Not Pay: Behind The Criminal
  43. Crime Does Not Pay: What Price Safety!
  44. Crime Does Not Pay: Miracle Money
  45. Crime Does Not Pay: Come Across
  46. Crime Does Not Pay: A Criminal Is Born
  47. Crime Does Not Pay: They’re Always Caught
  48. Crime Does Not Pay: Think It Over
  49. Crime Does Not Pay: The Wrong Way Out
  50. Crime Does Not Pay: Money To Loan
  51. Crime Does Not Pay: While America Sleeps
  52. Crime Does Not Pay: Help Wanted
  53. Crime Does Not Pay: Think First!
  54. Crime Does Not Pay: Drunk Driving
  55. Crime Does Not Pay: Pound Foolish
  56. Crime Does Not Pay: Know Your Money
  57. Crime Does Not Pay: Jackpot
  58. Crime Does Not Pay: Women In Hiding
  59. Crime Does Not Pay: Buyer Beware
  60. Crime Does Not Pay: Soak The Old
  61. Crime Does Not Pay: You, The People
  62. Crime Does Not Pay: Respect The Law
  63. Crime Does Not Pay: Forbidden Passage
  64. Crime Does Not Pay: Coffins On Wheels
  65. Crime Does Not Pay: Sucker List
  66. Crime Does Not Pay: Don’t Talk
  67. Crime Does Not Pay: For The Common Defense
  68. Crime Does Not Pay: Keep ‘Em Sailing
  69. Crime Does Not Pay: Plan For Destruction
  70. Crime Does Not Pay: Patrolling the Ether
  71. Crime Does Not Pay: Easy Life
  72. Crime Does Not Pay: Dark Shadows
  73. Crime Does Not Pay: The Fall Guy
  74. Crime Does Not Pay: The Last Installment
  75. Crime Does Not Pay: Phantoms, Inc.
  76. Crime Does Not Pay: A Gun In His Hand
  77. Crime Does Not Pay: Purity Squad
  78. Crime Does Not Pay: The Luckiest Guy In The World
  79. Eyes of the Navy 
  80. Another Language
  81. Cul-de-sac
  82. Punch-Drunk Love
  83. The Dark Knight Rises
  84. Black Hand
  85. The Devil Makes Three
  86. The Coca-Cola Kid
  87. The Americano
  88. The Turning Point (1977)
  89. Jiro Dreams of Sushi
  90. Mississippi Burning
  91. Adua e le Compagne (Adua and Her Friends)
  92. Author! Author!
  93. Heartburn

1880s: 0
1880s: 0
1890s: 0
1900s: 0
1910s: 1
1920s: 15
1930s: 27
1940s: 25
1950s: 3
1960s: 2
1970s: 2
1980s: 8
1990s: 2
2000s: 1
2010s: 7

Before I talk about the five featured films, I just want to say that yes, I did see the new Woody Allen film, but no it is not one of the featured. I would call it a mid-level effort from Allen. Entertaining, sure, but not brilliant. Also, please for the love of whatever you consider holy do not go see Take This Waltz. I hated that movie so much I was anger for hours afterwards. Don’t ask me to explain, just take my advice and skip it. Now, on to the five films I’m highlighting this month. You will notice that three of them are from the Silent Film Festival. There were so many great films shown during that festival this year (several that I had already seen and loved) and the three films I’m featuring were so great that even though it’s been two weeks I am still thinking about them and wish I could own them and rewatch them because I am sure they are the kinds of films that just improve with every revisit.

Beasts of the Southern Wild, 2012 (dir. Benh Zeitlin)

I know that some have found this film to be hollow or false, but I have to disagree. I saw it twice within the span of a week and I loved it both times. For me, it is one of the best representations of childhood I have ever seen. What I mean by that is it shows how everything is a big adventure, how everything you do seems like life or death, how exaggerated everything becomes. I saw a lot of myself in this little girl and the way she saw the world. Also, I felt that the narration – something many critics disliked – also went perfectly with the character and world represented. I, for one, often narrated my own adventures when I was a kid and that’s how it felt for me. If there’s any justice in this world newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis will make history with a Best Actress Oscar nomination later this year.

The Wonderful Lie of Nina Petrovna, 1929 (dir. Hanns Schwarz)

This film stars Brigitte Helm (Metropolis) and Franz Lederer (Pandora’s Box) and is reminiscent of Camille, but a more realistic and less romanticized telling of that kind of tale. Helm and Lederer have amazing chemistry together and I dare you to get through this film without crying your eyes out, I dare you! That is, if you can find it anywhere. This film is just begging for a Kino or Flicker Alley release and if it ever does get one, I will be the first in line to buy it.

The Canadian, 1926 (dir. William Beaudine)

This is an adaptation of the 1913 Broadway play The Land of Promise by W. Somerset Maugham and apparently there is a 1917 film version, also starring Thomas Meighan in the same role. That version has Billie Burke in the female lead, played in the 1926 version by Mona Palma. I don’t know much about Palma, but I loved her in this film. She was so natural and wonderfully melancholic throughout the film. I’d never even heard of this film before I saw it on the program, but I am so glad it was shown. It’s maybe a little too simplistic for some, but it is so perfectly Maugham. It has been preserved by the Library of Congress, but like Nina, I don’t believe it is available on DVD.

Stella Dallas, 1925 (dir. Henry King)

As much as I love the Barbara Stanwyck version of this story, I think this 1925 version is superior. The story is so melodramatic that the later sound version, despite Stanwyck’s brilliant performance, falls into an overly dramatic mire at some points. Whereas, with this silent film words are minimal and it is almost all actions that propel the story forward, allowing for the film’s melodramatic tone to not overwhelm. Belle Bennett is superb in the titular role, as is Lois Moran as her daughter. You also get bonus Ronald Coleman, Jean Hersholt and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. in the mix. What is not to love? This is another one that will destroy you, so be sure you prepare yourself and bring lots of kleenex.

Punch-Drunk Love, 2002 (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)

As Kristen and I continue our way through PTA’s filmography (we’ve only got one left!), one of his films makes my featured five for a third consecutive month (this is why I’ve been spreading them out, or I’m sure he would just take over the whole list). This is probably Anderson’s shortest film, but also one of his most bizarre and intense. Half the time I was watching it I was thinking to myself, “What the hell is going on?!” I definitely need to revisit all of his films once I finish his filmography and then maybe I will attempt to rank them. So far, though, whatever one of his films I’m watching at the moments winds up as my favorite. He is most definitely one of the few true geniuses working in film today.

So that was July. Lots of great cinema. One really bad film. Here’s hoping August holds a lot of great things for you and me both!

About Marya E. Gates

Cinephile to the max.

Posted on August 1, 2012, in 2012 in Films and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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