Not really black and white, but I wouldn't say it's in color. It has different hues for different moods. I'm including it because it's just so remarkable. Perhaps I wouldn't think so if I'd known more about the star; I've always thought of him as a Swashbuckling Adventure actor.
I'd no idea he started out . . . as a comedian.
Interesting credits. They show everyone involved, laughing and hamming it up. It's the first movie by this fellow:
Twenty years away from "Gone with the Wind."
Here's your scenario writer, the guy who wrote the description of what happened:
That's all you needed to say, apparently - T.J.G. That would be Thomas J. Geraghty, a newspaperman who got into the film racket and banged out stories for decades.
Here's our shooters, cranking away by hand:
McGann's first movie. He did 52 movies in the period between 1930 and 1940 alone. B-movie and second-unit director, mostly. Harry was a St. Paul buy who did fewer films, got out of the business in 1928, and did Lord-knows-what until he died in 1972.
Okay, what's it about? Imdb synopsis: "Psychiatrist Dr. Ulrich Metz attempts to drive Daniel Brown to suicide." Pretty much, yes. But it takes a while to get there. The movie begins with Fairbanks having nightmares from indigestion, and he meets this fellow:
That's the original aspect ratio. The actor is Bull Montana, a pro wrestler managed by Fairbanks. He's a terrifying apparition, and look at how surreal this gets:
He runs through the wall - vanishing, mind you; a nice optical effect - and lands in a room full of women while wearing only his pajamas. Trampolines across the room, goes through a wall, ends up in a swimming pool, then sees he's being pursued by the things he ate for supper. He runs over hurdles, catapults on to a horse, gallops off, ends up at a house and walks on the walls. This is the sequence that reminds you how fast the art form grew up: he's doing the same thing Astaire did, but a mere ten years after movies began. After he's walked on the walls he does it again, and there's an inelegant cut where they splice in the angry food. Given that, just look at this:
That's just the first part, the set-up. I kept grabbing frames to pick out items that summed up 1919, and looked instantly familiar to modern eyes. okay, maybe today our scales are smaller:
And the switchboard isn't this clunky.
The receptionist was Babe London. This was her first movie. She'd make 50 more.
Of course, there's a girl:
Nothing changes, does it? Except she probably couldn't afford Greenwich Village now; not so boho.
Let's meet the evil scientist who's trying to get our hero to kill himself:
The drawing is his conception of the human mind, and when passions start to rise up in the hero's head -
- we literally see the emotions struggle. It's incredibly bizarre.
Througout the movie Fairbanks is a delight to watch - he goes it all with no effort whatsoever, just springing and leaping and climbing.
And then it turns into a disaster movie. Again: this is 1919.
But it's still a comedy. She's hungry; he goes to see if there's anything in the icebox.
None of this really captures how much fun it is, but you get the idea. And it's full of inadvertant documentary. 1919 seems so . . . weighty.