Archive for January 9th, 2010

by Allan Fish

(USA 1918 85m) DVD1

Who is Edgar Smith?

p  Cecil B.de Mille, Jesse Lasky  d  Cecil B.de Mille  w  Jeanie MacPherson  ph  Alvin Wyckoff  ed Cecil B.de Mille  md  Rodney Sauer  art  Wilfred Buckland

Raymond Hatton (John Tremble), Kathlyn Williams (Jane Tremble), Elliot Dexter (Coggeswell), Edythe Chapman (Mrs Tremble), Noah Beery (Longshoreman), Guy Oliver (Police Chief MacFarland), Tully Marshall (F.P.Clumley), Gustav Von Seyffertitz (mocking voice), Edna Mae Cooper (good face), Julia Faye (girl in Shanghai dive),

Motion to put to the honoured assembly of cineastes; namely, that Cecil Blount de Mille be reclaimed from infamous ridicule to his rightful place among the master pioneers of the cinema.  It’s a motion that will doubtless have many spluttering their beverage of choice while reading, but which I feel is long overdue.  For too long, de Mille’s films have been dismissed as mere entertainments, long on spectacle but short on complexity.  To a degree, that is true, but too many historians concentrate on the period from his first such epic (the silent The Ten Commandments in 1923) to his last (the talkie remake from 1956).  But just as even that period has its share of classics, from the camp The Sign of the Cross to the sometimes ludicrous but often stunning The King of Kings, his work from before 1923 needs closer examination.  From 1919, he largely concentrated on sophisticated sex comedies such as Male and Female, often starring Gloria Swanson, but the year before, in 1918, he made his most aesthetically daring piece, The Whispering Chorus, one of the forgotten masterworks of the early American cinema. (more…)

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