Sunday, February 13, 2011

Soon we'll be having lady detectives up in the Yard.

Finally, here's another 1929 post.  The count now is a mere six films watched.  This is going much slower than I would have liked, but I'm still enjoying the project.

We've watched three more films:
Blackmail (Hitchcock)
Woman in the Moon (Lang)
The Broadway Melody (Beaumont)

Woman in the Moon is a good film.  Visually striking with magnificent set design; exactly what one would expect from Lang at the height of his silent film career.  

I want to attribute the weaknesses of this film to Harbou's script.

The moon gold premise is silly.  The love triangle is silly.  The whole thing takes way too long to develop.  It's a solid 90 minutes before we see any rocketship action.  Then, there's about half an hour in the middle that's absolutely fantastic.  At 3 hours, I'm not sure that this does much more for the imagination than Melies was able to do in 14 minutes.  Even so, the melodrama is solid and Lang does seem dedicated to some semblance of a realistic science-based story.  The stuff on the moon is great and Lang's experimentation with titles on the screen pays off big time when the gold is found.  Also, finally, the Mirsalis score for the Kino DVD release is brilliant.

The Broadway Melody (of 1929) is a chick flick about two sisters and their intertwined love lives.  I regret letting the girls watch it with us.  They enjoyed it way too much!  I live with a bunch of girls.

I didn't really like Broadway Melody, but the first five minutes or so features brilliant sound design which must have been absolutely revelatory in 1929.

My favorite film of this new batch of three is Hitchcock's Blackmail.

Blackmail is almost as good as the best masterpieces that Hitchcock made later in life.  Hitchcock told a story better than almost anyone else and he knew how to get a strong moral message across without ever sounding preachy.  SPOILER: The fact that the woman gets away with her crime (which in many ways wasn't a crime at all until she tried to cover it up to save some notion of honor) is absolutely the most damning punishment that could be inflicted on her and Hitch knows it and shows it.  And it's all the more terrible now that she's killed a second man in the process of covering up her crime.  It's not even so much that she chooses the evil that she falls into so much as she doesn't actively fight against it and choose the good.  Depravity is the default.  Deceptive self-justification happens.

So, how do things stand?

1929 Top Ten - John
1) Blackmail
2) Hallelujah!
3) The Iron Mask
4) Woman in the Moon
5) Spite Marriage
6) The Broadway Melody

1929 Top Ten - Abigail
1) Woman in the Moon
2) Hallelujah!
3) The Iron Mask
4) Blackmail
5) Spite Marriage
6) The Broadway Melody

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