Archive for December 29th, 2009

by Allan Fish

(USA 1925 143m) not on DVD

A little ‘skirt duty’

King Vidor, Irving G.Thalberg  d  King Vidor  w  Laurence Stallings, Harry Behn, Joseph W.Farnham  ph  John Arnold, Henrik Sartov  ed  Hugh Wynn  m  Carl Davis (orig.William Axt, David Mendoza)  art  Cedric Gibbons, James Basevi

John Gilbert (Jim Apperson), Renée Adorée (Mélisande), Hobart Bosworth (Mr Apperson), Claire McDowell (Mrs Apperson), Karl Dan (Slim), Tom O’Brien (Bull), Claire Adams (Justyn Reed), Rosita Marstini (French mother), Robert Ober (Harry),

King Vidor’s epic silent drama holds a place in cinema history for any one of a number of reasons.  It was the film that propelled John Gilbert from the regular roster of stars into the supernova category where he could justifiably rub shoulders with Garbo and Gish.  It was the film that propelled Vidor to the ‘A’ list of silent directors, alongside Griffith, de Mille, Ingram and Von Stroheim.  Perhaps most importantly it was the most financially profitable silent film of them all, sending the fledging merged studio MGM so far into the black that they could not only take the spiralling costs and financial disaster of Ben Hur in their stride, but give Vidor carte blanche to make The Crowd as a thank you. 

            Jim Apperson is the beloved, spoiled son of a rich industrialist who has long been betrothed to childhood friend Justyn.  Then America is called into the war and Jim signs up on the grand adventure with several friends.  Despite his family’s pleadings, he goes off to war with two friends and, once in France, they befriend a French farm girl.  He falls in love with her, but keeps faithful to his fiancée back home.  However, back home, Justyn has fallen in love herself. (more…)

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