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King of All Cosmos

opiate1138 in watchingoscar

The first few . . .

There's a large hurdle to jump for these first few years in Oscar history; none of the movies are available. Of all the nominees from the first ceremony, only one was available on Netflix, and only two were available from the second ceremony. I've started a special queue on Netflix for all these flicks, and I've added up into the '40's, probably. The ratio is getting better, but I'd still say that one in five movies has yet to be released on DVD. Gr. I probably won't make many posts for these first few years . . . maybe only one every three movies or so, which brings me to:

"Tempest" (Winner, Best Art Direction, 1929), "In Old Arizona" (Winner, Best Actor - Warner Baxter, nominee for Best Writing, Directing, and Picture), and "The Broadway Meloday of 1929" (Winner, Best Actress - Bessie Love, Best Picture, and nominee for Best Director).

Tempest: The story of a peasant risen to the ranks in the Russian army. He falls in love with a woman of elevated social status, and that love is not reciprocated. He is jailed, but after the revolution he is a leader and the tables are turned.
I don't have a lot of experience with silent film. I've seen and love "Metropolis," and I've seen (and also enjoyed) a few Charlie Chaplin comedies. I've stayed away from silent drama, because I always assumed the worst; fright wigs, hilarious facial expressions and overacting . . . this was not the case with "Tempest." I was pleasantly surprised. John Barrymore was great, as were all of the male actors, but I did think that the female lead was a bit over the top. This edition was apparently a direct transfer, and a lot of the people on Netflix complained about the scratchy quality, but I thought it lent a little nostalgia to the experience. The scratches didn't bother me at all. This version had the original organ score performed on piano, which was nice. But I think I would've liked to have heard the organ accompaniment. There was also some playful camera work - something else I didn't expect from such an old film. My only beef is this is that I never fully understood why John Barrymore's Ivan was so in love. Camilla Horn's character was horrible - an ugly (on the inside) hateful woman. She was awful to him, yet he loved her with all his heart. I don't care if it was 1929 - love based on nothing but beauty doesn't do much for me, so it was a little hard to be sympathetic to the characters.

In Old Arizona: The first "talkie" western (or close to it). The story of a Mexican and an American soldier competing for the love of a duplicitous woman.
Ugh. I didn't appreciate this movie AT ALL. This one filled all the stereotypes I've held in regards to early cinema. Bad wigs, HORRIBLE pancake makeup, as well as bad stereotypes. Warner Baxter plays the Mexican, with makeup that makes our artifical tanning lotion look as natural as can be. And let's not forget the accent, which shifts in and out and, even to someone that is not easily offended like me, actually made me a little uncomfortable to watch. The female lead had a terrible wig, and an accent to match. The sound quality made watching and understanding very difficult - the mix was terrible, but the print was actually pretty nice. I'm glad I saw this, but only for historical reasons. :)

The Broadway Meloday of 1929: This is an example of something I needed to prepare for: the Hollywood Musical. I've never been a fan of musicals . . . and there are about to be A LOT of them in my future. But "The Broadway Melody" wasn't what comes to mind when I think "musical." There were songs, but no big choreographed numbers . . . it was much simpler. This was the very first "musical," I think - definitely the first to win Best Picture. The acting was nice (Bessie Love in profile looks so much like Gillian Anderson it's not even funny, by the way), the plot was not to whimsy. I do think that the repetition of songs was a little silly, but overall it was a fun watch.