Wednesday, October 28, 2015

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! THE WIND starring Lillian Gish and Lars Hansen (MGM, 1928)

It really takes a lot to get this fanabla's hide in front of a tee-vee set anymore, but I managed to pull myself outta the comfy chair in my room and trek into the human activity area to watch this silent film as it appeared on Turdner Classic Mooms one Saturday night. Sure brought back memories of when I'd used to spent Saturday evenings plopped in front of the boob tube watching old mooms whether it be via those SILENT YEARS reruns on 45 or (weather permitting) OLD MOVIES, THE GOLDEN ERA on Cleveland's 25 because hey, I was young and impressionable and everything from "the cinematic arts" to tee-vee to music left this slam-bang impression on me that just doesn't resonate the way it used to when you were young and WILD-EYED. But I think you know that already, unless you're one of those "Social Justice Warrior" types so concerned about equal rights for snails (normal humans...ferget it!) still holed up at some youth hostel in Dubuque.

THE WIND is whatcha'd call a late late silent released when audiences were gagging themselves silly over everything from cats meowing to Farina's gravelly voice to care about the on-the-way-out silents, and if this is the way silents went out they sure went out on a pretty hotcha note! Film vet Lillian Gish still looks young enough as she did in BIRTH OF A NATION playing the Virginia-bred missy named Letty who makes her way out to dustbowl country to live with a cousin on his rather disheveled in its own quaint way ranch. On the train ride west she meets up with this bigshot  cattle dude who tells her of the tremendous wind storms that'll drive any frail like herself batshit crazy as the dust just covers up the train windows before getting blown away by even more dust.

Cousin "Beverly" (yeah that's his name, sweetie!) and the kids take a liking to their new arrival but wifey gets those typically female jealousy rants and raves up because of it, thereby banishing Letty from the ranch which is a bad break considering the gal is pretty much penniless. It's at that point she marries Lige Hightower, a rather hicksome fellow played by Swedish big name Lars Hanson who really thinks that Letty is hot stuff. Too bad for him because Letty certainly doesn't return the favor doin' the ol' "ech, I only married you for your moolah" routine when Lige starts getting his hormones all in a rumble.

Meanwhile the storms keep roaring up and soon the big 'un hits right when Lige joins on a dangerous horse roundup so he can get the money to send Letty back to Vee-Yay and... Well, none other than the same bigshot dude she met up with on the train (who we find out already has a wife and just wants Missy for some fresh pudendum) is back at her place injured, but he gets around enough to act on his impulses which just happens to be when the storm hits a pretty frightening crescendo!

Pretty maddening moom here what with all of that wind and dirt (dishes are actually scrubbed in the dust!) and house-shaking intensity. And having to deal with a horny guy while hubby's away only adds to the madness of it all which Gish does in her best freaked out BROKEN BLOSSOMS best way possible. Hanson as the at first goofy yet ultimately heroic Lige also does well, but maybe that's because we don't have to hear his El Brendel voice! And Victor Sjostrom/Seastrom's directing abilities are just as good as Gish mentor D.W. Griffith's or any of his early emulators were the way he can build up the tension with the windstorms and threats, and although this film if anything signals "era's end" for the past few decades of cinematic fun and jamz you can just see how far the form had developed since those creaky if fun 1890's shorts that Biograph and Edison were putting out.

Glad to see this one survived years of nitrate degeneration, and whatever you do don't let the MGM logo scare you off...this is probably as close to a silent movie version of TWILIGHT ZONE or even ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS (w/o the twist ending, the original one being axed due to studio pressure) anyone ever could get!

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