Sunday, May 5, 2019

Jason goes to Silentfest: Day 3

Two more movies on Friday. Again my day job kept me away from the early shows, but I got to see a couple of great ones, and I checked into my weekend home, Beck's Motor Lodge.

THE LOVE OF JEANNE NEY (DIE LIEBE DER JEANNE NEY) (1927): Set in Crimea after the Soviet Revolution, where Bolsheviks and Cossacks are fighting. Jeanne (Γ‰dith JΓ©hanne) is the daughter of French diplomat AndrΓ© Ney (Eugen Jensen) and lover of Andreas Labov (Uno Henning). A scheming, lecherous opportunist Khalibiev (Fritz Rasp) sells AndrΓ© a list of Bolshevik agents--a list that includes Jeanne's lover Andreas. That leads to a confrontation that kills her father, wounds Andreas, and leads to Jeanne fleeing to Paris. She is followed, more dangerous encounters ensue, and Brigitte Helm (most famous, of course, for METROPOLIS) has a supporting role as a blind girl who is the target of more of Khalibiev's schemes. And my head is kind of left spinning by the plot but marveling at the camerawork, pacing, and editing.

Guenter Buchwald Ensemble (Guenter, Frank Bockius, and Sascha Jacobsen)
Jeanne and Andreas

WEST OF ZANZIBAR (1928): And we ended the night with a co-presentation by Midnites for Maniacs, introduced by the head Maniac himself, Jess Hawthorne Ficks.

It's a Todd Browning (DRACULA, FREAKS) and Lon Chaney (the original Man of 1,000 faces) collaboration, one of the greatest partnerships in the entire silent film era, at least for classic genre fans. Chaney is a stage magician, Phroso, with a beautiful wife and assistant Anna (Jacqueline Gadsdon). But she's been cheating on him with Crane (Lionel Barrymore) and Crane attacks him, leaving him crippled and running off with Anna. A year later, a broken Phroso learns that Anna has returned. He finds her dead in a church with a baby girl--the proof of her infidelity--by her side. So he plots revenge. It takes 18 years, in Africa, where Crane has become an ivory merchant. But he gets in good with the natives, using his magic to lead them with his cadre of helpers, he is now known just as "Dead Legs." The plot and visuals are somewhat shocking, even today, and the revenge scheme is grotesque. And of course, because it's from the master of the macabre, things don't go quite according to plan. An absolutely dark treat, and a great film to just try to sleep after (I didn't, I stayed up and halfway caught up on my blog.)

Stephen Horne and Frank Bockius again (he's been busy this festival!) kept the tight, tense, and macabre plot churning ahead with their score, and it was all a lot of fun.
Dead Legs keeping the co-conspirators in his revenge plot in line.

Total Running Time: 170 minutes
My Total Minutes: 504,406


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