Archive for February 13th, 2010

by Allan Fish

(USA 1928 110m) DVD1


p  Carl Laemmle  d  Paul Leni  w  Walter Anthony  novel  Victor Hugo  ph  Gilbert Warrington  ed  Maurice Pivar, Edward Cahn  art  Charles D.Hall. Joseph Wright, Thomas F.O’Neill  cos  Vera West, David Cox  make up  Jack Pierce

Conrad Veidt (Gwynplaine), Mary Philbin (Dea), Olga Baclanova (Duchess Josiana), Josephine Crowell (Queen Anne), George Siegmann (Dr Hardquanonne), Brandon Hurst (Barkilphedro), Sam de Grasse (King James II), Stuart Holmes (Lord David Dirry-Moir), Edgar Norton (Lord Chancellor), Cesare Gravina (Ursus),

Here’s a film to cherish, one long thought lost to posterity, but now available in a restored print and as near an approximation of the original as could be offered.  It’s been called director Paul Leni’s finest achievement which, despite Waxworks and the original The Cat and the Canary, is spot-on.  It’s been called a masterwork to match Universal’s earlier The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney and an essential early horror film; well, I agree with the first part of that statement, as it’s not actually a horror film.  What has to be admitted is that it was an essential film on the road to what would become the Universal horror strain of the thirties and forties, as so many of the techniques were pioneered here.  For sure, Tod Browning and James Whale are the most pivotal figures in early horror, but Paul Leni might well have matched them, had he not died so prematurely in 1929 after completing The Last Performance. (more…)

Read Full Post »