Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Haven't been givin' the ol silent flicks much of a go lately so it was quite a refreshing experience watching this '26 feature starring not only the ol' French snoot himself Adolphe Menjou but phony Hispanic Ricardo Cortez, D.W. Griffith fave Carol "Scarecrow" Dempster and import actress Lya de Putti. I will say one thing about de Putti, and that is that she sure was a gal with a last name that never registered too well with me because it reminds me of the Italian word for uterine inner-lining remnants or something of an equally gross gynecological nature. Of course "Putti" sounds too much like "pooty" anyhow which makes me wonder why she didn't change it to something less odoriferous like Tammy Titsley or Betty Bounce.

Not bad looking at all in that late-silent dark sorta way, with creepy shadows and  the kind of weird angles that Wil Eisner and Jack Kirby were making good use of years later. I guess Griffith himself was watching a whole lotta expressionist films, the kind that were comin' outta Europe and making the film snobs go all agog, deciding to swipe a few ideas himself which would be fitting considering how they've been swiping from him for a good twenty years already. It would seem fitting for this type of film which is based on a novel by English hack Marie Corelli who ripped it off from FAUST anyway, and given the film's satanic theme what else would Griffith had done anyway, sprinkled it with fairy dust???

But man, even with the hackoid theme this film at least looks good. True the soundtrack (which comes off as if it was taken from a mid-thirties reissue that made its debut in an Albuquerque bowling alley) roars on and on regardless of the on-screen action, but it is sure easy going on the eyes and looks wonderful even if the subject matter coulda been tweaked a bit. The opening scene featuring the big revolt of the bad angels vs. the good just hadda've been cut considering its legendary in film historian status, but the short bit I saw was at least promising. The aforementioned dark tone also benefits the film, though while the likes of Cortez (a hotcha b-movie co-star by the late-thirties) and Menjou seem just right I gotta say I can't stand looking at Dempster who exudes all of the warmth and charm of your average afternoon talk show hostess who thinks she's a man. Dunno what Griffith saw in her but I guess it all worked out for at least two or three paragraphs of fame in your standard film history book eh, Carol?

Standard story, lovey-dovey couple (one a crit, the other a writer) failing in life, Crit gets fired for writing unpopular reviews by the original Jann Wenner, gal sells story. Crit meets up with Satan who presents him with wealth and woman with figure, gal withers into nothing. It all crumbles around crit who returns to gal after he realizes that really was Satan and all is sweetness 'n light. Now aren't you glad that I'm around so you don't have to watch these things yourself, as if good direction and visually appealing scenes ever did appeal to you!

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