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A celebration of cinema: The Films of 1920
#1
This is only the second thread I've ever posted. But, if these start good discussions, I plan on doing a thread for every single year from 1920 to the present. Discuss any and all films of that year. Good or bad. Famous or obscure. Hopefully we all learn some things and maybe discover new films that we've not heard of to be able to check out.

I own two films from 1920. Though, as of this post I've only watched one. Gonna watch the second tonight hopefully.

Those movies are:

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

If you've never seen The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari....you owe it to yourself to do so. Especially if you're a fan of Tim Burton. Batman Returns owes a lot to this film visually. 

Chime in and name some other films from this year!
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#2
Caligari is fantastic.

The only other 1920 films I've seen are Harold Lloyd's HIS ROYAL SLYNESS (pretty cute), Buster Keaton's ONE WEEK (Keaton's so great), and the ice floe chase scene in WAY DOWN EAST:



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#3
Great! Those are films I've never heard of. I will definitely check them out.

I was thinking about Franchise Me the other day and how much I missed it and I thought about doing something that interested me in a format that was really clear. And it'd be a good way to maybe learn about films that I've/we've never heard of and to expound on the virtues of movies regardless of age. I made a very deliberate decision to own a blu ray of at least one film from every year I thought that would be cool. I hope this sort of thing inspires interesting conversations. No film from the given year is off limits..
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#4
For the most part, I'm pretty ignorant of the Teens and early 20s outside of Keaton. For example, I haven't seen any D.W. Griffith outside of clips like the above or the more wince-inducing passages of BIRTH OF A NATION.

A quick scan of Letterboxd primarily tells me that Keaton and especially Lloyd were the kings of this time period. Criterion has been releasing some of the Lloyd stuff, and we forget just how incredibly popular that guy was, into the sound era.
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#5
I've never seen any Buster Keaton. I definitely need to fix that. I'm not familiar with Lloyd either. I'm going to research both.

I chose to start with 1920 because I'm foggy as well when it comes to films from pre '20..
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#6
For the October Horror Movie Challenge last year, I watched Caligari and The Golem: How He Came into the World. I really liked both of them, especially Golem. The monster itself is pretty creepy and I remember being really impressed by some of the special effects in the movie.
Mangy Wrote:TCM 2 is like sentient cocaine.
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#7
The neat thing about the '10s-'20s is that copyright was sketchy enough that a lot of the cinema of the time is in the public domain - archive.org's Prelinger Archives collection has at least 470+ videos from the period, although a number of those are newsreels/educational shorts. I don't think I've seen anything from 1920 specifically, but it's definitely interesting to dig through the shorts and features of the period and watch the development of narrative cinema.
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#8
By all means, check out Keaton's stuff. The aforementioned One Week is one of his best shorts.


The Golem is another good one from Germany. The sequence where the Golem is brought to life is particularly cool, and possibly influenced some moments in Murnau's Faust. James Whale's Frankenstein owes a bit to this one, too.

The Penalty, with Lon Chaney, is also worth a look. He plays a gangster whose legs were unnecessarily amputated when he was a child, and is planning revenge on the doctor who performed the operation.

Edit: Ah, HP beat me to the Golem mention.
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#9
Added THE GOLEM and THE PENALTY to my Youtube queue. Thanks, folks. Also added THE MARK OF ZORRO. Fairbanks is another blind spot.

Chaney was great. I just recently watched THE UNKNOWN from '27 and it's fantastic. Chaney loved playing amputees!

There's a good blog called Movies Silently written by a lover of silent films. She reviews them frequently, and has a ranked list of all the silents she's reviewed. This might be a handy list - http://moviessilently.com/all-silent-movie-reviews/
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#10
The Golem! I'd forgotten about that movie. I've never seen it but need to for sure. The Mark of Zorro as well. I wasn't aware there was one that old..
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#11
One Week rules. Absolutely check that one out ASAP.
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#12
It is MIND BOGGLING how many lost films that there are. Has anyone ever wiki'd that subject? Hundreds and hundreds. Back then, studios thought that after a certain amount of time, audiences wouldn't want to watch or have any use for older films so they trashed them. No one anticipated the home video revolution. We're damn lucky to still have as many as we do from this era.

Previously the oldest movie I owned was The Birth of a Nation. I thought it would be worth it for posterity's sake. Bought the Twilight Time blu. Truly looked great. But man, it makes Gone With the Wind look like Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. I had to sell that one. It was just too much..
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#13
Ugh I had to watch parts of Birth of a Nation for a history class. Fuck historical significance, every copy of that movie should be burned to ashes like Robert Picardo did to Hitler's shitty paintings on Justified.
Mangy Wrote:TCM 2 is like sentient cocaine.
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#14
Yeah. I underestimated how bad it was gonna be. Very naive of me. I couldn't finish it even. The rape crazy black man (white dude in black face) was what did me in. Not that it wasn't disgusting before that. But that was so bad that it was like a Chapelle Show sketch. What with the pure as the driven snow, white woman leaping to her death rather than have a black man touch her. I understand the ending involved the KKK riding "heroically" to the rescue. Griffith was awful..

I think I'm gonna make one more thread that I should've made before this one to better categorize where some of this conversation could go..
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#15
I've never watched Calagari, which I consider a serious cinematic weakness.

I'm going to wait until October though.
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#16
You can learn plenty from Griffith's other films, and watching them will help contextualize Birth's melodrama, specifically how he builds tension through the chase, a storytelling element pretty much unique to film when you think about it. The aforementioned Way Down East and Orphans of the Storm (1921) contain much more memorable Lillian Gish characters, and Intolerance (1916) is much more than historical spectacle.
"I'd rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on Earth."--Steve McQueen
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