Filled Under: *Movies Silent
Opening Title Card: [first card] “It is not generally known that there are Atheist Societies using the schools of the country as their battle-ground, attacking, through the Youth of the Nation, the beliefs that are sacred to most of the people.”
Opening Title Card: [second card] “And no fanatics are so bitter as youthful fanatics.”
“The Godless Girl” (1929) is a silent drama directed by Cecil B. DeMille. The movie was completely shot without sound, but after the advent of talkies, some sound and a dialogue sequence were added.
“The Godless Girl” centers around two high school kids. Judy Craig (Lina Basquette) is a hard core atheist. Bob Hathaway (Tom Keene) is a devoted christian. Judy forms a club called ‘The Godless Society’ in high school and begins to recruit members. Bob incites other students to attack the atheists and a riot ensues. An atheist girl named Grace (Marie Prevost) is accidently killed in the melee. As a result of Grace’s death, Judy, Bob, and another boy are sent to the state reformatory where they are treated very badly by the head guard (Noah Beery). The two former antagonists, Judy and Bob, under the harsh life of reform school, begin to find common ground and fall in love. Bob plans a succesful escape for himself and Judy, but they are soon caught and returned to the reformatory. They are locked in seperate cells as punishment for their escape attempt. While locked up, a fire breaks out, and Bob manages to save himself and Judy along with the brutal head guard. As a result, Bob and Judy are given their freedom.
The first part of the film is very high-handed in it’s treatment of Christianity versus Atheism as the two groups really go after each other with no tolerance for the other side’s belief’s. Marie Provost’s (Grace) death scene is beautifully done and very touching with the atheist girl confessing she is afraid to die because she doesn’t know what is next. Noah Berry is very convincing as the evil, brutal head guard and some of the violence in the reformatory is somewhat graphic. Lina Basquette and Tom Keene are very, very good in their roles as Judy and Bob and easily carry the movie with their performances. Overall, “The Godless Girl” holds your attention throughout the movie and is very entertaining.
Mary Preston (Clara Bow): Do you know what you can do when you see a shooting star?
Jack Powell(Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers): No, what?
Mary Preston(Clara Bow): You can kiss the girl you love.
Wings (Paramount Pictures 1927) is a silent film set during WWI. Wings stars Clara Bow, Charles “Buddy” Rogers, Richard Arlen and Jobyna Ralston. Gary Cooper had a brief secondary roll which helped launch his Hollywood career. The premise of the movie is pretty simple. Two young rivals (“Buddy” Rogers and Richard Arlen), from a small town USA are both in love with the same woman (Jobyna Ralston) and are vying for her attention. Clara Bow plays the girl next door who desperately loves one of the young men herself. The two rivals enlist to become combat pilots in the Air Service during WWI. Clara Bow’s character joins the war effort as an ambulance driver. They all wind up in France to fight the Germans. I won’t go into any more detail as to the plot because I hate giving away what happens, but suffice it to say, this movie is one of the best war movies of all time. The story is very well done, the acting superb, and the camerawork during the arial battle scenes magnificent. You need to remember this movie was made in the mid 1920’s, but the battle scenes with the hundreds of extras on the ground, the explosions, and the arial scenes rival anything you would see today. Richard Arlen and Buddy Rogers did their own stunt flying during filming. Arlen had been a WWI pilot himself, although he saw no combat, but Buddy Rogers had never flown a plane before in his life, but by the end of production he was piloting his own plane.
Wings, completed with a budget of 2 million dollars, was an immediate success in the United States. Opening August 12, 1927 at the Criterion Theatre, Wings was shown for 63 consecutive weeks before being moved to “secondary” theatres. Critics also loved the film, calling the realism of the arial and battle scenes impressive. The film was one of the first to ever show a male on male kiss, be it a fraternal one, during a death scene towards the end of the movie. It was also one of the first to show nudity, as you get a very brief glimpse of Clara Bow nude during one scene. Wings went on to win an Academy Award for Best Picture, being the only silent movie to ever do so. In 1997, Wings was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
In 1998, Roger Ebert reviewed Pandora’s Box, giving the film much praise and saying of Louise Brooks, “she regards us from the screen as if the screen were not there; she casts away the artifice of film and invites us to play with her.”
Pandora’s Box (1929) is a silent movie directed by the Austrian filmmaker Georg Wilhelm Pabst. The movie is based on two plays, Earth’s Spirit and Pandora’s Box, written at the beginning of the 20th century by the controversial German playwright Frank Wedekind. It is said that he wrote them “with the deliberate intent of shocking his middle class audience by talking bluntly about the consequences of sex, violence, and hypocrisy”. If that was the playwright’s intent, Pabst succeeded in doing the same in the film. Louise Brook’s stars as ‘Lulu”, a child/woman who’s open sexuality has a disastrous effect on all who love her. The film follows her in her downward spiral as she takes everyone who desires her down with her into her descent. Pandora’s Box also stars Fritz Kortner, Francis Lederer, and Alice Roberts. Although released in 1929, the movie is incredibly modern, daring in it’s use of sexuality and violence, and cutting edge in it’s inclusion of a lesbian countess (Alice Roberts) who also falls for Louise Brook’s character ‘Lulu’. Initially panned by critics, it was rediscovered in the 1950’s, and modern critics call it “a cinematic masterpiece”, thanks in large part to the beautiful and sensual Louise Brooks. The Internet Movie Database says “this movie is one of the great treasures of cinema, and Louise Brooks one of the most talented and fascinating actresses to ever appear in movies, on either side of the Atlantic.”