Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Silent Film Fest - Day 4 - Nosferatu (1922)

Ah, what has become of the vampire? When did they become the good guys, the object of teenage angst and lust? For that matter, when did they themselves become full of teenage angst and lust? Whatever happened to the vampire who was a creature to be feared - the creature of the night who was a hunter subject to an uncotrollable bloodlust? Where now is the vampire who changes into a bat or mist, who controls and communes with the creatures of the night, who is a nearly unstoppable force that threatens to overrun towns and turn innocents into hellborn creatures like itself?

In short, when did vampires begin to sparkle in the sunlight instead of cringing and turning to dust?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Saturday TV - Batteries Not Included

And now, a word from our sponsors, courtesy of collector Jon Behrens:

("Batteries Not Included" was compiled by Jon Behrens, and is posted under an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States Creative Commons License as an example of what can be done with Public Domain material.)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Silent Movie Fest - Day 3 - Tarzan of the Apes (1918)

Just a short note to start things off: You may have noticed that instead of "Silent Movie Week", the title above says "Silent Movie Fest". that's because, truth be told, I'm simply finding that trying to keep to a one movie per day schedule is negatively affecting the quality of the posts that I'm able to do here, and not giving me the time to really treat them properly. Therefore, I'm going to be cutting the schedule back a bit. For instance, rather than trying to cover all five of the silent films I'd planned to this week, I'll still be doing the same number of films just over a two-week period instead on one. Not only will this change in schedule allow me to spend a bit more time with each film, it will give me a chance to work on some other projects that I hope you'll enjoy, including making some cosmetic changes to the site and updating the Master List which has been woefully neglected of late. There are also some new surprises coming down the lane which I'm not quite ready to announce yet, but I think will be a lot of fun.

Ok, enough of that for now, let's move on to today's film, shall we?

Tarzan. Lord Greystoke. The Lord of the Apes. When most people think of cinematic representations of the jungle hero, their mind immediately goes to Johnny Weismuller, whom many consider the definitive interpreter of the role. Weismuller was not, howevver, the first cinematic Tarzan. That honor actually goes to Elmo Lincoln who portrayed the Apeman in two feature films and a 15 chapter serial from 1918 to 1921. He also actually appeared as a circus roustabout in the 1942 Weismuller outing Tarzan's New York Adventure and had a small role in 1949's Tarzan's Magic Fountain which starred Lex Barker as the jungle king.

(Ok, for those sticklers out there, I'll grant you that technically Gordon Griffith, who plays the young Lord Greystoke in the film is the first cinematic Tarzan, but it's not really until Lincoln steps in that he's actually the Tarzan that we recognise as the Lord of the Jungle.)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Silent Movie Week - Day Two - The Lost World (1925)

Poor Professor Challenger - though he may very well be as intelligent, his temper, I fear, made him always destined be live in the shadow of his literary step-brother Shelock Holmes. Unfortunately for the professor, this secondary creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never was able to burst into the limelight or gain the popularity of the famed detective. Even in today's feature, the second in our look at silent films, he is truly upstaged by a pack of dinosaurs.

Of course, these were not your ordinary dinosaurs, to be sure. Instead they were the work of stop-motion pioneer Willis O'Brien, who would go on to also create a certain Empire-State-Building-climbing, Fay-Wray-loving giant ape. By then, the creations of O'Brien would be truly spectacular, but even in this early effort they are quite amazing. How amazing? Well according to a report published in the New York Times the day after Conan Doyle himself showed some of the test footage to the Society of American Magicians, "(Conan Doyle’s) monsters of the ancient world, or of the new world which he has discovered in the ether, were extraordinarily lifelike. If fakes, they were masterpieces"

Monday, May 3, 2010

Silent Film Week - Day One - A Trip To the Moon (1902)

Hiya Kiddies! Today we begin a week I've been looking forward to since I began this blog: Silent Film Week. Instead of the usual routine, each day this week we'll take a look at one of the great films of the truly early days of cinema before the movies learned to talk.

One of the reasons that I think I find silent films so interesting is that they truly employ a vocabulary all their own. Of course, everyone associates silent films with broad pantomimic gestures, and intertitles (those cards that pop up in the middle of the action with either a description of what is happening or a bit of dialogue) but really that's only the tip of the iceberg.

What you're also seeing really is the slow development and discovery of what is possible on film and what truly creative people can do when faced with a new medium, and rarely is that more evident than in today's film, A Trip to the Moon.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Saturday TV - This Is Your Life

Y'know, Kiddies, I suspect that with all the papparazzi and stalkers and such, a show such as This Is Your Life, at least as originally conceived, just wouldn't work today. Of course, considering Punked and other surprise shows, maybe all they'd need to do is get Ashton Kutcher to host it.

The concept was simple, really. Each week, host Ralph Edwards would surprise someone, usually, though not always, a clebrity, and take them to the studio where, in front of a live audience he would begin to reount the details of their biography. Where the true fun (and sometimes pathos) came in, though, was that along with the retelling, the network would bring in various people from throughout the guests life, often people they had not seen in years, and the show would turn into a mini reuinion as these people would share stories about the guest of honor. Quite often, it was these stories, rather than the actual biographical information imparted, that were the heart of the show.

In the episode posted below, for instance, the surprise guest is Lou Costello, half of the famous comedy team of Abbott and Costello. However, as host Edwards says at the start, if all you know about Lou is his onscreen antics, then you really don't know the reall Lou Costello. Let's take a look, shall we?

You can find more episodes of This Is Your Life by searching archive.org or on DVD from Amazon: This Is Your Life - The Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1

Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting,
-Professor Damian
Unless otherwise noted, all movies discussed on this blog and all associated materials are believed to be in the Public Domain. If you are a copyright holder for any of these materials, please email me. Unless otherwise noted, all material created for this blog by Professor Damian is licensed under a Creative Commons license as described below. Creative Commons License
Professor Damian's Public Domain Treasure Chest by Professor Damian is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
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