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

Saturday, January 07, 2023
HAS IT REALLY BEEN A WHOLE CENTURY?: I have picked the best pictures of
2012, 2002, 1992, 1982, 1972, 1962, 1952, 1942, and 1932. You have probably anticipated my next step.

Welcome to 1922. We are in the pre-Oscar era now, so I can't start this my usual way by telling you what won Best Picture. I can say that the top-grossing movie in America this year is Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood—yes, the official title includes the star's name. I have never seen it. But I have seen these:

1. Salomé
Directed by Charles Bryant and Alla Nazimova
Written by Nazimova and Natacha Rambova, from a play by Oscar Wilde

Feels more like Kenneth Anger than Oscar Wilde.

2. Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror
Directed by F.W. Murnau
Written by Henrik Galeen, from a novel by Bram Stoker

Dracula, but less suave and more goblinny.

3. Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler, Part 2—Inferno: A Game for the People of Our Age
Directed by Fritz Lang
Written by Lang and Thea von Harbou, from a novel by Norbert Jacques

Tired of superhero movies? Here's a vintage supervillain movie.

4. Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler, Part 1—The Great Gambler: A Picture of the Time
Directed by Fritz Lang
Written by Lang and Thea von Harbou, from a novel by Norbert Jacques

It's good that part two is ranked higher. That means the story keeps getting better.

5. Cops
Written and directed by Buster Keaton and Edward F. Cline

Buster has a run-in with the LAPD—and I mean all of the LAPD.

6. The Blacksmith
Written and directed by Buster Keaton and Malcolm St. Clair

Yes, it's Buster Keaton again. He was having a good year.

7. Grandma's Boy
Directed by Fred C. Newmeyer
Written by Hal Roach, Sam Taylor, Jean Havez, and H.M. Walker

Harold Lloyd was also having a good year.

8. Pay Day
Written and directed by Charles Chaplin

Even Charlie Chaplin was having a pretty good year. I'm not a huge Chaplin fan, but none of my usual complaints about him apply to Pay Day: This is fast-paced, funny, and unsentimental—head-and-shoulders better than anything else the man did before Modern Times.

9. Jumping Beans
Directed by Dave Fleischer
Written by Max Fleischer

A 12-minute tale of space travel and cloning, with allusions along the way to Gulliver's Travels and Jack and the Beanstalk.

10. Witchcraft Through the Ages
Written and directed by Benjamin Christensen

If you don't mind mixing a little 1968 into your 1922, look for the version narrated by William Burroughs.

I haven't got a full list of 10 honorable mentions this time, but I'll give a shoutout to Walther Ruttmann's experimental advertisement Der Sieger. Here we are, barely past World War I, and already ads are absorbing the avant garde—or is it the other way around?

Of the films of 1922 that I haven't seen, I'm most interested in Phantom.

I have not watched enough movies from 1912, let alone enough good movies from 1912, to do another top 10 after this one. So this post is where this year's list-fest ends. For the record, my favorite movie of 1912 is Wladyslaw Starewicz's The Cameraman's Revenge. My favorite movie of 1902 is Georges Méliès' La Voyage Dans la Lune. My favorite movie of 1892 is Charles-Émile Reynaud's Pauvre Pierrot. And my favorite movie of 1882—if movie is the right word for it—is Eadweard Muybridge's The Kiss. If you have a brilliant fantascope disc from 1872 to recommend, drop me a line.

posted by Jesse 9:30 AM
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