Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hush, Hush Sweet Junk Thief

I wrapped up the silent film festival weekend with two completely unrelated films as the afternoon moved into early evening.

A restored print of Her Wild Oat discovered in the Czech Republic and starring Colleen Moore was a nice treat. I first discovered her nearly 40 years ago in middle school when I picked up her autobiography in the bargain bin. Though she was the top box office draw in 1926 and 1927, she is pretty much forgotten by non-silent movie fans. Ironically, Louise Brooks was relatively obscure at the time and considered a cheap Colleen Moore knock off. Colleen had the flapper thing going long before Louise went to Berlin to be Lulu. Perhaps because she retired fairly happily and spent the next 50 years happily married and sane hurt her reputation as a legend. Her persona was somewhere between Clara Bow and Mary Pickford. Speaking of which, the feature was preceded by a two minute techincolor screen test of Pickford having dropped the orphan-waif and looking vampish, seductive and ready to play Lulu. Her Wild Oat merged the hard working orphan with the gauche flapper with scenes at the Del Coronado Hotel that seemed the template for Some Like It Hot to ultimately copy.
Having such a light but touching comedy before Teinosuke Kinugasa's Jujiro was not the best build up for such an intensely dark film. I appreciated that it was not a film about samurais, geishas, martial arts or an Ozu family chamber drama. Its central theme of a younger brother declaring to his big sister "I will follow you to the end of the earth" carried greater resonance after the screen faded to black, and it was all so dark -- sets painted gray and filmed at night -- with plenty of rain, blood, ash, painted hussies, a greedy old madam and a host of villains with bad teeth.

As always, this festival is the best trip to a foreign land -- the first quarter of the 20th century -- and I come away wishing I'd seen even more in the series.

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At 12:04 PM, Blogger digibudi said...

Dear Junk Thief, It's been a while.. I've missed you. I've been quite ill and had sooo much work at the shop that I've postponed my blog readings and friends. But I'm back and feel energized as never before! big hug and kiss. Love this post on the silent movie festival. I adore the silent movies. But I know you know that. xoxoxoxo

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Nikolas - Welcome back, and glad you're well. I've missed you, and hugs and kisses back to you across the big pond.


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