Tag Archives: Mary Philbin

The Man Who Laughs (1928)

The Man Who Laughs (1928)

Country:  USA

Director:  Paul Leni

Main Stars:  Mary Philbin, Conrad Veidt, Julius Molnar Jr., Olga Baclanova, Brandon Hurst

Storyline:  A noble refuses to kiss the kings hand so he kills him and surgically disfigures his son as revenge. The son travels on a freak show and does not know that he really is a noble.

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Review (Spoils):  The son of Lord Clancharlie Gwynplaine (Julius Molnar Jr., ) is punished for his father’s actions to the king. He gets sent to Dr. Hardquanonne who is known to disfigure children and kidnap them. Gwynplaine gets a permanent smile craved into his poor face and gets exiled into the cold winter where is founded by a man who runs a traveling freak show. Years pass and Gwynplaine (Conrad Veidt) travels with them as “The Man Who Laughs” and falls in love with a blind woman named Dea (Mary Philbin).  During their travels Duchess Josiana (Olga Baclanova) falls in love with his face of fake happiness during one of his shows. She tracks him down with her wild traits and entraps him in a love triangle.

Silent films are easy to review as it comes down to scenery and facial expressions that make the film.  This film has both! The scenery is very well done from the royal bedchambers to the costumes themselves.  The crazed jester Barkilphedro (Brandon Hurst) was awesome.  He was the perfect villain as you can see the madness right in his eyes as he laid his evil ideas and plans to the king about the child Gwynplaine.  He was truly way more frightening them the laughing man himself. The second most interesting character is the child actor Julius Molnar Jr. during his travels through the storm and the sheer innocence of him when rescues the baby from the dead mothers arms.  The film describes this perfectly on the screen without words.  The rest of the film is interesting such as the quite loosely enjoyable Duchess Josiana and the hidden face of Gwynplaine when he was older but I feel the true outstanding of the film is the younger moments of the film.

Rating:  This film was very interesting and it held my attention. The storyline was thick and did not contain any real holes unlike other plots for this era. Sure it’s a love story but at the same time it’s a story of tragedy as poor Gwynplaine gets punished for his own father’s actions. The film has an iron maiden which worth some gold stars also.

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6/10 Beers!

Yacker

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The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Country: USA

Director: Rupert Julian

Main Stars: Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry

Storyline: The Opera House of Paris is haunted by a mysterious phantom that falls in love with a singer named Christine (Mary Philbin). He grants her the greatest role and success if she will give it all up for him.

 

 

 

 

 

Review: This is my first silent film review. There was so many to choose from my collection to be my first but Lon Chaney is a legend in horror (plus Rebecca had never seen it before). The story is very easy to follow as it is a haunting love story of a phantom named Erik (Lon Chaney) who will do anything for the girl.

First off the sets in this movie are amazing and massive. The Opera Hall itself is a whole screen from roof to floor and the casting for fill in actors/actresses is huge. This film is amazing for its time when it comes to detail. Even the many levels of the catacombs beneath the stag are very detailed with water ways, dripping walls and even a large bedroom.  Unfortunately the copy I own has changes in color for certain areas in the dungeons ranging from blue/red/ green to black and white. Not sure Universal decided to do this on later copies but still it did not stop the beauty of the sets.

Now to the monster himself! Lon Chaney steals the show when it comes to acting in this one and the mystery behind his man like half mask leads to the revealing of one of the best make-up monster to date. The pale skin, fearful mouth of jagged teeth and those menacing bulging eyes. This is the best of the entire versions of this tale and thanks to Lon Chaney creating one of the most memorable monsters of horror.

Rating: Crack open the case for this one as it’s a classic and if you dislike silent films this still a must see. The gothic beauty of the sets alone is worth the watch. Thank God Lon Chaney passed some of his greatness to his son to continue the horror venture.

 

 

7/10 Beers!

Yacker

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