Today puts me at the halfway point of my new Christmas tradition, wherein I gift my favorite bloggers with movie and TV clips that relate to both their movie interests and mine. (Click here for a complete explanation of this scenario.)
I focus today’s spotlight on Fritzi at the blog Movies Silently. I used to pride myself on being more knowledgeable about silent movies than the average moviegoer, but Fritzi has it all over me. She knows about more silent films than I’ve even heard of, and she writes about them in a scholarly yet captivating style.
There are any number of silent movies that would be worthy of a gift for Fritzi, but I’ve decided to keep it simple. Here are two and three-quarter minutes of French silent-film master Georges Melies making some simple movie magic with only stop-motion photography and some quick costume changes. I give you The Untamable Whiskers (1904), with a beautiful modern score by Kieron McIntosh.
The following is my entry in The Classic Movie Cookalong (and Book Giveaway!), a contest being hosted by Fritzi at the blog Movies Silently through Apr. 27, 2017. Click on the image above to learn more about the contest and how to enter!
My main memory of Welsh rarebit is an episode of “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” where Gomer fell asleep after eating the dish and turned into a sleepwalking maniac. I’d also heard of the silent film Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend. So for decades, I had the idea that Welsh rarebit was some exotic food. Imagine my surprise when Movies Silently‘s Fritzi announced this contest, and the main ingredients of the dish turned out to be shredded cheese and beer!
Nevertheless, the contest sounded fun and easy. All you have to do for it is use one of the two recipes (Charlie Chaplin’s or Maurice Chevalier’s) provided by Fritzi, and take photos or a video of yourself preparing and eating the dish. Fritzi is offering some very nice prizes to the contest’s winner. But frankly, the prizes don’t interest me — I entered the contest just to ham it up and to try a food I’d never eaten before. So I hereby declare that I do not want to be considered for the prizes — I just want to post my silly photos of me cooking this crazy dish!
Every shower must come to an end. It is with great regret, then, that we present
If you missed Day 1 and/or Day 2, click on those days (highlighted in this sentence) to review those days’ blogathon entries. For today’s finale, click on each respective blog’s name to read his or her ‘thon contribution.
The silent-film blog Movies Silently takes a fascinating look at an “actuality film” of The Seine Flood, a natural catastrophe that occurred in 1910 Paris.
Musings of a Classic Film Addict tells how rain helps a nun (Claudette Colbert) uncover a secret from the past of a criminal (Ann Blyth) in Thunder on the Hill.
Before any rain comes to end a Kansas drought, lightning definitely strikes Burt Lancaster and Katharine Hepburn in The Rainmaker, as recounted by Moon in Gemini.
More rain-soaked sparks fly between a young boy and Two English Girls, as Francois Truffaut’s film is blogged about by Cinematic Scribblings.
And last but hardly least, Whimsically Classiccritiques what is surely the sunniest rainy movie ever: Gene Kelly’s glorious-feeling musical Singin’ in the Rain.
This blog thanks all of the blogathon’s enthusiastic entrants and interested readers. We hope that we’ve helped to keep your head in the clouds for the past three days!
Have you ever gone to see a movie that has been raved up for years and then doubted your better judgment when you weren’t crazy about the movie? That’s what happened to me when I viewed the much-revered silent film version of The Phantom of the Opera for the first time.
(Brief synopsis: Erik [Lon Chaney] has been hiding out in the bowels of the Paris Opera House for years because he is ashamed of his disfigured face. However, Erik has designs on an up-and-coming opera singer named Christine [Mary Philbin], and he will do anything to both further Christine’s opera career [rival singers be damned] and win Christine’s love despite his physical appearance.)
Fortunately, I have Fritzi, who runs the blogs Movies Silently, as my blogging “neighbor.” I quickly consulted her entry on Phantom (click here if you’d like to read it for yourself), and much to my relief, she pretty much agreed with me: The movie is good but not a masterpiece, Chaney does an amazing job with both his makeup and his acting, and Philbin is fluttery and just this side of over-the-top.
However, my major hangup with the movie is in one of its major plot points, which I would imagine is a carryover from the original novel. (MAJOR SPOILERS from this point on!)
The movie’s money shot is when Christine surreptitiously removes Erik’s mask (despite his previous command not to do so) and gets a full view of Erik’s face. This is the shot on which the rest of the movie hinges, and when the movie was first released, Chaney was careful not to take any publicity photos that would show him in full Phantom make-up so as to build the audience’s shock at the unveiling. Mission accomplished. It’s still a pretty powerful moment.
What really bothers me is that the moment is taken at face value. In other words, Christine uncovers Erik’s face, and this drama queen’s first reaction is basically, “Whew, he ugly! Gotta avoid him like the plague!”, as if she was a high-school cheerleader who just got asked to the prom by the class nerd.
Since I am of the era of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast — a movie wherein an initially monstrous figure is shown to be human like the rest of us — Christine’s attitude really puts me off. It’s later revealed that Erik, while a musical genius, is also an escaped prisoner from Devil’s Island. The movie showed Christine as having been fascinated by Erik at first. Wouldn’t it have been more interesting to have Christine smitten with this man and his offbeat behavior and looks, only to find out later how dangerous he is? Instead, the story takes the easy route and instantly equates physical ugliness with supreme villainy.
I suppose movie buffs will chastize me for applying contemporary sexual politics to a 1925 movie. But it makes me think that when modern-day moviegoers scoff at silent film in general, it might not be only the antiquated technology they’re pooh-poohing. Maybe it has something to do with the way those movies look down their noses at the more underprivileged among us.
The following is my entry in The Classic Movie Ice Cream Social Blogathon, being hosted May 20-23, 2016 by Fritzi at the blog Movies Silently. Click on the above banner, and read a wide variety of reviews, articles, and recipes related to bloggers’ happy movie-related memories!
Many a scene in the comedies of Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy involved the duo running away from something or someone (usually an authority figure), only to be inconveniently halted by a nefarious mud puddle. I doubt that this sort of thing happens very often to the average citizen, but mud puddles are ubiquitous in the films of Stan and Ollie.
In honor of my lifelong comedy heroes, I’d like to gift you with my recipe for a unique dessert named “Dirt Cake.” I nabbed the recipe about 25 years ago after a co-worker brought the dessert to a company luncheon, and it has been a hit with everyone to whom I’ve presented it ever since. (Yes, I know, dirt technically isn’t the same as mud — but once you take a bite of this, all such hair-splitting will instantly cease.)
Dirt Cake Recipe
1/3 cup of butter or margarine
1 8-oz. container of Cool Whip
1 package of Oreo cookies
2 packages of instant French vanilla or white chocolate pudding
1 8-oz. container of cream cheese
1 cup of powdered sugar
3-1/2 cups of milk
Cream together butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar.
In a separate bowl, whisk pudding mix, milk, and Cool Whip. Then add in cream cheese mixture.
Crush all of the Oreos. (I choose to put the cookies in a gallon-size Ziploc bag and crush them with a rolling pin, but do whatever works best for you.)
Layer the cookie and pudding mixtures together.
Chill at least 2 hours before serving.
As a crowning touch, if you’re a hard-core Laurel & Hardy buff, you might want to print out a photo of Stan and Ollie in a mud puddle and place it atop your dirt cake.
And there’s another nice mess to get your taste buds into!
Just when you think you’ve read it all, along comes “The Silent Movie Star Sandwich Contest.”
It’s being hosted by my blogger-friend Fritzi at her blog Movies Silently, and if you could resist plugging such a unique contest, you’re a stronger man than I am. Please follow the link below for all the details: