THE NAVIGATOR (1924) AND FROZEN NORTH (1922)

The Navigator (1924) was Buster Keaton‘s biggest commercial success and remains one of his most popular features. Co-directed by Donald Crisp, it is a bona fide classic. Affluent society heir Rollo (Keaton) wakes up one morning, sees a newlywed couple outside of his window, and, bored to tears, decides he wants to get married. Love, of course, never enters the picture. He starts planning a regal honeymoon and eventually remembers that he needs to ask the bride-to-be, another socialite named Betsy (Kathryn McGuire, Keaton’s leading lady from Sherlock Jr.). The super rich were a favorite target for 1920s audiences, which certainly helped this … Continue reading THE NAVIGATOR (1924) AND FROZEN NORTH (1922)

SHERLOCK JR. (1924)

Buster Keaton never aligned himself with the Surrealists or the avant-garde. His late in life experience acting in Samuel Becket’s Film (1965) proved a negative experience for the actor. Yet, Keaton possessed aesthetic qualities akin to Surrealist tenets, which made him a revered figure in that movement. Together with Playhouse (1921) andFrozen North (1922), Sherlock Jr. (1924) is one of Keaton’s most pronounced ventures into slapstick Surrealism. At 45 minutes Sherlock Jr. is often listed as both a short and a feature. By 1924 standards it was considered a feature. Either way, it is perhaps the most innovative comedy of the entire silent era and it retains a formidable reputation … Continue reading SHERLOCK JR. (1924)

PAUL LENI’S WAXWORKS (1924)

Kino International included Paul Leni‘s 1924 Waxworks in its German Horror Classics collection.  While the usual Kino craftsmanship has gone into remastering and merchandising, the inclusion of Leni’s breakthrough film is a bit of a misclassification.  Waxworks is not a “horror” film.  It is representative of what may possibly be the most experimental period in the medium of film: German Expressionism.  This style exploded with Robert Wiene’s Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), which turned out to be an even more influential film than D.W. Giffith’s Birth of a Nation (1915). Leni was among the apprentice filmmakers and artisans profoundly influenced by Caligari. That inspiration came to fruition in the anthology film Waxworks ( screenplay by Henrik Galeen, … Continue reading PAUL LENI’S WAXWORKS (1924)