Happy Birthday To “Master Of Darkness” Fritz Lang

Or so BFI likes to call him. At any rate, this is the 127th birthday of this legendary director, a man who kept his life so private that one biographer questioned if Lang’s first wife (#1 of 3 marriages) even existed.

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A Halloween Post Roundup!

Happy Hallowe’en, everyone!

This wonderful illustration is from Dennison’s Bogie Book, a book of Halloween decoration and party ideas that seems to have been published every year, with updates I presume. This comes from the 1925 edition–isn’t it priceless? Here’s another  illustration:

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To celebrate this spooky holiday, here’s a roundup of all my Halloween-inspired posts from the past. Counting my posts from this month, this includes the films: Continue reading

Obscure Films: “Genuine: A Tale Of A Vampire” (1920)

Man, I couldn’t help cringing while writing the title of this post–because from that alone, this film sounds so cool. This is a vampire tale? From the year 1920? And it’s a German Expressionist film, you say? By Robert Wiene, the director of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, you say?! This must be a forgotten gem!! An obscure work of genius, just begging to be rediscovered by eager new audiences and then extolled as one of the unsung masterpieces of early experimental cinema!!

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HOLY FREAKIN’ HARRY LANGDON, LOOK AT THAT ART DESIGN!!

Well, I’m here to confirm that it’s………..not. It’s just not. It’s not any of those things. Well, okay, it is a German Expressionist film from 1920 directed by Robert Wiene, but a cinematic masterpiece? Oh good heavens, no.
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A Mesmerizing Talent: The Life And Career Of Conrad Veidt

“I only fell in love once with a movie actor. It was Conrad Veidt. His magnetism and his personality got me. His voice and gestures fascinated me. I hated him, feared him, loved him. When he died it seemed to me that a vital part of my imagination died too, and my world of dreams was bare.”

Quoted from one of the documents compiled in British Cinemas and Their Audiences by J.P. Mayer. 

He had a lean, chiseled face that could’ve belonged to a regal nobleman, a sickly poet, or a sinister villain. His blue eyes could burn with the fury of a madman, or grow wide and distant as if trying to forget terrible secrets. But they could become warm and friendly too, especially if you were chatting with this tall, distinguished man about his greatest passion: dramatic acting. “I must have the dramatic, the ecstatic,” he told an interviewer in 1928, “something with great mental force.”

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Known today for such horror classics as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and The Man Who Laughs, Hans Walter Conrad Veidt (nicknamed “Connie”) came from a quiet and sensible background. Continue reading

Thoughts On: “Nosferatu”

Why do we hold such reverence for Nosferatu? Why does a film with such simple special effects and occasionally humorous acting linger in our minds? Why, when Hollywood offers a wealth of svelte–even sexy–vampires, do we keep turning to the gaunt, bushy eyebrowed Count Orlok with his protruding rat teeth?

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It must be more than simple curiosity to see one of our earliest vampire films, although that’s probably a big factor for many. According to some of my non-silents-accustomed friends, its style and film speed can make it effectively creepy. That said, I’ll admit that plenty of people find it hysterical. Continue reading

Thoughts On: Murnau’s “Faust” (1926)

I always kick off the month of October with this Expressionist masterpiece. I hope you enjoy it–or will enjoy it–as much as I do!

Some of the greatest silent films can be described as collective dreams. They capture familiar legends, familiar places, and certain eras. These films are Art, and Art doesn’t age, not the way many older movies do. One of these works of Art is F.W. Murnau’s Faust (1926), a masterpiece of fantasy that’s often overlooked in favor of other German Expressionist works–such as Murnau’s own Nosferatu. Strange, considering that did nothing less than draw upon some of the most iconic imagery of good vs. evil in the world.

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Happy Birthday, Nosferatu! (A.K.A. Max)

On this day, 136 years ago, an actor was born who would one day embody the idea of brooding, creeping, sinister evil in a way that no film actor ever had before–or arguably ever did since. His last name even translates to “terror”–I kid you not (get thee to Google Translate!). Here’s a brief overview of the life of this remarkable presence: Continue reading

Obscure Films: “From Morn To Midnight” (1920)

So if The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari took German Expressionism and ran with it, From Morn To Midnight took it, ran with it, jumped on a motorcycle and rode it screaming straight through a brick wall. 

From Morn to Midnight set shot

Behold.

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