Blogs

TGWTG's Community Blogs.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login

Silent Reviews

Posted by on in Silent Reviews
(No, that's not a typo in the title of this blog.  In the 1920s, "Bagdad" was a legitimate spelling of Baghdad.  However, I'll be using this older spelling only when using the title of the film.)

Douglas Fairbanks stars in and produces this lavish Arabian Nights-derived fantasy that continues to rank very highly on lists of not only the best silent films ever made, but fantasy films as well. 



Fairbanks was one of the biggest stars of the Silent Era, literally in the same league as Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford (Fairbanks's second wife).  Pickford was America's Sweetheart, Chaplin was the Gentleman Tramp who made audiences laugh and cry at the same time, and Fairbanks was the ultimate action-adventure hero.  (What else can you say about a guy who's played Zorro, d'Artagnan, Robin Hood, and a pirate captain?)  Making his mark in a number of hit comedies in the 1910s, Fairbanks would transition towards grand-scale adventure movies in the 1920s, beginning with The Mark of Zorro (1920) - although most people say the transition really began with his next film, The Three Musketeers (1921).  Fairbanks's adventure movies featured lavish costumes and elaborate sets, along with daring stunts that emphasized his athletic prowess (I've often wondered whether Fairbanks's movies had an influence on Jackie Chan's the way silent comedies did).  In addition to his work in front of the camera, Fairbanks was one of the founders of United Artists (along with Chaplin, Pickford, and D.W. Griffith) and the first president of what we now know of today as The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which he intended to be a true academy for the study and advancement of filmmaking techniques.



After the introduction of our framing device, an imam telling a young man that "Happiness must be earned," we transition to a day in the life of our unnamed thief (Douglas Fairbanks).  He steals, he eludes the city guards with the aid of some impressive acrobatics, and insults imams and mosque-goers to their faces about how he just takes what he wants and lives for himself.  Around this same time, a trio of suitors arrives at the caliph's palace seeking to wed his daughter (Julianne Johnston).  One of these suitors is Cham Shang (Sojin Kamiyama), a Mongol prince and the only character to get an actual name in this movie.  Cham Shang, however, seeks to conquer Baghdad, and is using the ruse of seeking The Princess's hand as a means of getting the lay of the land.  Meanwhile, The Thief, after watching the parade, schemes to sneak into the palace and swipe some of the many valuables the suitors are bringing as gifts.  During his break-in, however, he happens upon The Princess asleep in her bed and is instantly smitten.  He returns to his lair empty-handed and utterly lovestruck.


Desperate to see The Princess again, The Thief disguises himself as Prince Ahmed, another suitor for The Princess's hand - who is naturally more successful than his rivals.  However, The Princess's treacherous handmaiden (Anna May Wong), who's in league with the Mongols. recognizes The Thief from his previous break in.  She reports to her master, who informs the caliph.  The Thief is arrested, flogged, and sentenced to a gruesome death, but The Princess arranges for him to be freed (there's a refreshing twist).  In despair, The Thief turns to the imam he mocked in the beginning of the movie (and who's also the one telling the story), and the imam kindly tells him where he can find a fantastic treasure that will change his fortunes and fate.  The Thief embarks on a long and dangerous journey across a series of strange lands, facing all sorts of perils and monsters before finally claiming the treasure.  The Thief races back to Baghdad, arriving just in time to thwart Cham Shang's secret invasion.     



The uncut prints of The Thief of Bagdad clock in at 152 minutes, making it the longest movie Fairbanks ever made, not to mention the most elaborate in terms of design and special effects.  However, if you like silent movies, you'll rarely feel like this film is dragging.  For one thing, it's gorgeous to look at - so much so that critics at the time complained that the sets and spectacle were overwhelming and drowned out the characters (modern critics disagree, and so do I).  Drawing inspiration from the German Expressionist movement, all of the lavish sets have a surreal quality to them, from the streets of Baghdad and the caliph's palace to the fantastic lands our hero travels to.  The special effects are pretty good for the time, including a flying carpet and horse.  (Just don't go into this expecting WETA or ILM quality, or even Harryhausen.)



Acting-wise, this film has some good performances from the supporting cast, particularly Charles Belcher as the imam and Anna May Wong as the treacherous handmaid.  Fairbanks is his usual flamboyant, energetic self, and like always, he makes for an engaging hero.  The Thief of Bagdad's director was none other than Raoul Walsh, who prior to this movie had made Westerns and gangster movies.  Walsh would later go on to direct such classics as High Sierra (1941), Objective, Burma! (1945) and White Heat (1949), to name but a few.  Walsh had never done anything even similar to this movie when Fairbanks asked him to direct it, but the end results are pretty solid, so he was evidently a good fit for the movie.

For all its merits, this film does unfortunately engage in quite a bit of racial stereotyping, particularly where Asian characters are concerned.  This is one of a number of instances in Western pop culture of The Yellow Peril, a tendency to depict Asian characters as inherently evil.  However, one thing that's surprising about this movie's cast is that they actually used Asian actors to play the principal Asian characters.  Sojin Kamiyama (often just credited as Sojin, including in this movie), a Japanese actor, worked steadily throughout the Silent Era (often playing villains) and even had a small role in Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai (1952) as a blind musician.  Sojin was also the only Asian actor to ever play Charlie Chan, which he did in several silent films.  As for Anna May Wong, she became a big name after this movie and also had an extensive career (again, often playing handmaids opposite Caucasian actors in "yellow-face" makeup).  Unfortunately, her looks, acting talent, and mastery of the English language didn't help her overcome Hollywood's racial barriers, keeping her from substantial roles in The Good Earth (1937), which had an all-Caucasian cast, even though it was set in China.



It used to be believed that The Thief of Bagdad cost $2 million to make (that's in 1924 dollars, mind you).  While it was still one the most expensive movies made up until that time, the actual costs were closer to $1.1 million.  Unfortunately, it didn't do well at the box office, which is really a shame.  Fairbanks biographer Jeffrey Vance states a number of reasons for this.  First of all, audiences at the time deemed it too fantastical and bewildering.  In addition, American audiences had become more cynical and less idealistic and imaginative in the years after World War I.  They wanted simpler, more stories, as opposed to elaborate fantasies.  Nowadays, however, The Thief of Bagdad is recognized and much more appreciated for how artistic and entertaining it is.     

This is a wonderful classic from the Silent Era, and definitely worth watching.  And yes, I do plan to review the 1940 remake with Sabu and Conrad Veidt at some point.


0
Hits: 289 0 Comments

Posted by on in Silent Reviews

I was going to make a video about this movie...but then I decided there wasn't enough to go on to make a full video. I can talk about here just fine as well.

I love Hitchcock, he's my favorite black and white director, but I wasn't a fan of this movie, I don't mind silent films, but I think it was the premise, an hour and a half of a guy wanting to get married but going to every girl in town except the girl he needs to talk to?

Okay, sounds like every chick flick, and maybe it's what every chick flick is based on. I don't know.

...
0

Posted by on in Silent Reviews


Remember all of those disco bits I posted? This is the show they're from, a 13 episode spinoff of  Yogi's Space Race comes one of the stupidest things Yogi Bear has ever appeared in. But what do I know it's not like I watched almost every episode of is crap. So with week before my departure let's take a quick rundown of the first episode.

The show surprisingly starts in space where we see a princess of sorts tending her flowers repeating one of the most annoying lines a princess could repeat since "Inuyasha".

Physics was never Hanna-Barbera's strong suit.

Some Space hag Zangra and her robot flunky fly in, turn her flowers into a Venus flytrap to capture her. Despite her capture she warns them that the galaxy goof-ups will come to her aid (Yeah, goof-ups will totally help this situation). Strangely news of this travels fast because Captain Snerdley, the Goof-ups commander sends them out for the rescue...or he would if they weren't doing this...



And we come to the main attraction of the show, the disco bits. Not to be confused with the pseudo music video bits from Jem, while those had a point these are well trippy... and not in a good way. Snerdley sends Officer Quack-up (A new character who died once this show got cancelled) to get them to mount a rescue.


After some mild slapstick they make it to Zangra's ship to free the princess.

Well, excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me princess.
Zangra uses all of her haggish tricks to stop them. Dragons, retarded robots, plants but these four dumbells prove too much for the mighty Zangra.

This is their leader folks.


In a last attempt at defeating the goof-ups she fires an icebeam at their ship as they escape but uh-oh, the princess is looking at herself in her hand mirror and the beam bounces back and freezes her instead. Oh and this i just the abridged version, you have to watch through 20+ minutes of nonsense just to get the full experience of suck. Well until next time.



0
Hits: 1335 2 Comments

Posted by on in Silent Reviews

Throughout the holidays it's my best intentions to get pass every single best picture winner in the oscars history.  Let's start with the oldest best picture winner Wings from 1929.  When the awards first started, there were 2 categories for best picture.  The first one was Most outstanding production which went to Wings.  The other category was most artistic quality of production which went to Sunrise.  The film most people recognize as the winner of that year is Wings.  Wings is the only silent film to ever win best Picture.  This will be untrue if The Artist wins Best Picture in 2012.  Wings is about 2 best friends Jack and David who are fighting together in the war.  There friendship is questioned when both fall in love with fellow worker Mary.  The film is the first big film Gary cooper did starring as cadet White.  Gary Cooper would later win Best Actor in Sergeant York and High Noon in 1942 and 1953.  Mary is played by famous silent actress most known  for It, Clara Bow.  Charles Buddy Rodgers who played Jack would go on to win a special achievement in 1988 and also a hollywood walk of fame star.  Richard Arlen who played david also has a Hollywood walk of fame star.  The films director william Wellman went on to direct the Public Enemy with james Cagney and a star is born with Judy garland.  The film is your average military film and has 96% on Rotten Tomatoes despite many considering the film to be disappointing and lacking by todays standards.   

Other Nominees that year 

...
0

Latest Videos

Oancitizen: Shakespeare

Watch Video

Phelous: BZ - Super Mario World

Watch Video

MikeJ: Microwave S'mores Maker

Watch Video

NChick: 50 Shades S2E3

Watch Video

Film Brain: Amz Spider-Man 2

Watch Video

Taylor: Tales of Symphonia HD

Watch Video

Adventure Time: 5 More Short

Watch Video

NC: Swan Princess

Watch Video

Leon: AotT: Inquisition

Watch Video

NChick: Game of Thrones S3E3

Watch Video

Diamanda: Amz Spider-Man 2

Watch Video

Benzaie: Neo Versailles Ep 5

Watch Video

Lotus Prince: Snatcher Finale

Watch Video

Linkara: Athena #2

Watch Video

Sage: Plastic Little

Watch Video

Lupa: Haunting of the Innocent

Watch Video

Suede Played Higurashi P1

Watch Video

Adventure Time: Jake the Dog

Watch Video

Blockbuster: Planes

Watch Video

Adventure Time: Finn the Human

Watch Video

Lupa: BW - Rookie School

Watch Video

Sage Vlogs: Under the Skin

Watch Video

Diamanda: The Raid 2

Watch Video

Brad: Transcendence

Watch Video

Nash: Tasmanian Triangle

Watch Video

NC Com: Alice in Wonderland

Watch Video

Linkara: LPPO Ep 17 & 18

Watch Video

LP - Snatcher P13-15

Watch Video

NChick: ID vs WotW P2

Watch Video

Rap Critic: Loyal by Chris Brown

Watch Video

ChaosD1: Digimon Masters

Watch Video

Benzaie: Neo Versailles Ep 4

Watch Video

Lesbian Talk: Episode 54

Watch Video

Adventure Time: The Lich

Watch Video

Todd: Ghetto Superstar by Pras

Watch Video

MikeJ: Marley & Me TPY

Watch Video

Brad: ET the Porno Bloopers

Watch Video

Nerd: Ep 110 - Outsourced Anim

Watch Video

Adventure Time: I Remember You

Watch Video

Brad: Two of a Kind

Watch Video

Phelous: Gingerdead Man 3

Watch Video

Taylor: Lightning Returns

Watch Video

Blog Categories

What's Up? (138)
Sports (264)
News (273)
Book Reviews (523)
Funny (560)
Top # Lists (736)
Animation (869)
Wrestling (969)
Movies (1031)
Anime (1055)
Thoughts (1122)
Comics (1137)
Misc Reviews (1174)
Music (1257)
Video Reviews (1793)
Film Review (2619)
Uncategorized (3964)
Video Games (4930)
Old Blogs (15349)