The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Monday, January 07, 2019
DOUBLE POE: I've listed my favorite films of
2008, 1998, 1988, 1978, 1968, 1958, 1948, and 1938. Now it's time for the '20s.

The Motion Picure Academy split its Best Picture award for "1927-1928" between two movies released in 1927, and it gave its "1928-1929" prize to a film from 1929. So it never did get around to honoring 1928. Here are some of the movies it missed:

1. There It Is
Written and directed by Charley Bowers and Harold L. Muller

One of the strangest, funniest comedies of the '20s, or of any decade.

2. Spies
Directed by Fritz Lang
Written by Lang and Thea von Harbou

Part banker, part communist, part criminal, part clown, Lang's supervillain feels like a cubist abstraction of a Nesta Webster conspiracy theory.

3. The Docks of New York
Directed by Josef von Sternberg
Written by Jules Furthman, from a novel by John Monk Saunders

This has one of the greatest wedding scenes in film history, made greater by the lurking question of whether the ceremony is a sham.

4. The Fall of the House of Usher
Directed by Jean Epstein
Written by Epstein and Luis Buñuel, from a story by Edgar Allan Poe

European surrealists do Poe.

5. The Fall of the House of Usher
Directed by James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber
Written by Watson and Webber, from a story by Edgar Allan Poe

The American version. Briefer and even more dreamlike than the French effort.

6. Speedy
Directed by Ted Wilde
Written by Al Boasberg, Albert DeMond, John Grey, Jay Howe, Lex Neal, Howard Emmett Rogers, and Paul Girard Smith, from a story by Grey, Howe, Neal, and Rogers

Baseball-crazy Harold Lloyd drives New York's last horse-drawn trolley. Is it possible to be nostalgic for another generation's nostalgia?

7. Zvenigora
Directed by Alexander Dovzhenko
Written by Dovzhenko, Mikhail Ioganson, and Yuri Tyutyunik

An eccentric fantasy filled with bizarre images. As usual in early Soviet cinema, there are propaganda parts; as usual with Dovzhenko, he doesn't seem to care much about them.

8. KoKo's Earth Control
Directed by Dave Fleischer

This is how the apocalypse will come: with a clown and a dog stumbling their way into the world's control room and pulling the wrong lever.

9. The Passion of Joan of Arc
Directed by Carl Dreyer
Written by Dreyer and Joseph Delteil

It may seem a little perverse of me to rank this lower than KoKo's Earth Control, but it's my list and I can do with it as I please.

10. The Seashell and the Clergyman
Directed by Germaine Dulac
Written by Antonin Artaud

The movie that produced the British Board of Film Censors' most infamous judgment: "This film is so cryptic as to be almost meaningless. If there is a meaning, it is doubtless objectionable."

Honorable mentions:

11. October (Sergei Eisenstein, Grigoriy Aleksandrov)
12. Steamboat Bill, Jr. (Buster Keaton, Charles Reisner)
13. Ghosts Before Breakfast (Hans Richter)
14. The Wind (Victor Sjöström)
15. The Cameraman (Buster Keaton, Edward Sedgwick)
16. Études Sur Paris (André Sauvage)
17. Woos Whoopee (Otto Messmer)
18. The Crowd (King Vidor)
19. Two Tars (James Parrott)
20. La Zone (Georges Lacombe)

Of the films of 1928 that I haven't seen, I'm most interested in L'Argent and Storm Over Asia.

posted by Jesse 7:41 AM
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