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Posts Tagged ‘silent film

“We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven’t you?”*…

 

Director Steven Soderbergh lovingly cut Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho together with Gus Van Zant’s shot-by-shot remake into a single film…

Marion Crane: Do you have any vacancies?

Norman Bates: Oh, we have 12 vacancies. 12 cabins, 12 vacancies.

See Psychos (“This… comes from a place of ‘total affection, openness, and honey bought directly from a beekeeper’”) here.  And browse “Salon des Refusés” for Soderbergh’s list of movies and TV shows seen, books read, and music heard in 2013, for his appreciation of Josef von Sternberg, and for gobs of other goodies…

* Norman Bates

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As we recall Norman’s adage that “a boy’s best friend is his mother,” we might spare a thought for comic genius Harold Clayton Lloyd, Sr.; he died on this date in 1971.  While your correspondent marginally prefers the extraordinary Buster Keaton, Lloyd has some real claim to being the finest physical comedian of the silent film era (even as his career extended to talkies and radio).  Like Keaton, Lloyd did his own stunts– many of them, breathtakingly dangerous.  Indeed, after 1919, he appears wearing a prosthetic glove, masking the loss of a thumb and index finger in a bomb explosion at Roach Studios.

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Written by LW

March 8, 2014 at 1:01 am

Float like a butterfly, sting like a king…

There’s a boxing ring planted in the middle of a London nightclub.

So far, nothing too out of the ordinary. But there’s also a folding table in the center of the ring, and on it, a chessboard. And rather than gloving up to start sparring, the two boxers, hands wrapped, sit down to square off over the board. Because this isn’t regular boxing—it’s chessboxing.

Chessboxing is a hybrid sport that is exactly what it sounds like: Chess plus boxing, or, more specifically, a round of chess followed by a round of boxing, repeated until someone comes out the victor. As Tim Woolgar, founder of London Chessboxing, says, “If you know how to play chess and you know how to box, you know how to chessbox”…

Get the dope at “TKO By Checkmate: Inside the World of Chessboxing.”

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As we roll on the ropes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1926 that Thomas Alva Edison opined that “Americans prefer silent movies over talkies.”

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Written by LW

May 20, 2013 at 1:01 am

Get (Sur)real…

 

click here for video

From Alex Pasternack on Motherboard:

Before he was Kermit, Jim Henson was Brunel.

With apologies to Man Ray and Busby Berkley and many others, I submit that argument and this hypothesis: the amount of time you spent as a child watching Sesame Street and the Muppets is directly proportional to your taste for the comic, the avant-garde, the absurd and the surreal. Jim Henson, the lead instructor of this viewers-like-you-fueled education, would have turned seventy-five this week had he not died in 1990, sucking away a collective head trip that was, ultimately, firmly planted in a felt flowerbed of weirdness.

Pasternack offers plentiful– and delightful– evidence, including this remarkable 1974 appearance on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show:

… and this “collaboration” with Orson Welles:

Many more mesmerizing examples at “Jim Henson Was America’s Greatest Surrealist.”

Special Minimalist Bonus!:

 

As we proclaim Henson the (Du)champ, we might wish a stony-faced Happy Birthday to “the greatest actor-director in the history of the movies” (quoth Roger Ebert); Joseph Frank “Buster” Keaton was born on this date in 1895.

As a young vaudevillian, Keaton met silent star Fatty Arbuckle.  Keaton borrowed Arbuckle’s crew’s camera, took it back to his boarding house, disassembled and reassembled it, then returned to ask for a job.  He was hired as co-star and gag man on “The Butcher Boy”– and soon became Arbuckle’s “second director” and his entire gag department.  Keaton soon earned his own unit, and began churning out two-reelers.  Leo McCarthy (director of Charlie Chase, Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, Mae West, and others) recalled, “All of us tried to steal each other’s gagmen. But we had no luck with Keaton, because he thought up his best gags himself and we couldn’t steal him!”

From 1920 through 1929, Keaton made Our Hospitality, The Navigator, Sherlock Jr., Seven Chances, Steamboat Bill Jr., The Cameraman, and The General— gems all.  Indeed, Henson collaborator Orson Welles considered The General to be, “the greatest comedy ever made, the greatest Civil War film ever made, and perhaps the greatest film ever made.”

With the advent of sound, Keaton’s career took a sideways turn.  While he appeared in a number of feature films, guested on many television series, and even served as an advisor to Lucille Ball on I Love Lucy, he was never again the monster star that he had been on the silent screen… which adds to the power– and the poignancy– of his penultimate role: the lead in the only movie written by Samuel Beckett, the (nearly) silent Film.

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Your correspondent is bound for the City of Dreaming Spires.  The time-zone differential being what it is, regular service will be interrupted until October 10 or so.  While there may be an occasional missive in the meantime, readers can trustworthily amuse themselves with the films of Buster Keaton, streaming (for free) on the wonderful Archive.org.

Written by LW

October 4, 2011 at 1:01 am

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