Allan Fish Online Film Festival: Pornography (2012)

Each year (this is the second such) the splendid movies’n’more website Wonders in the Dark runs an “Online Film Festival” in honor of Allan Fish, the site’s co-founder, whose tragically young death came as a shock to all connected with WitD. Here’s my contribution to the 2018 AFOFF.

If you’d like to see it in context on WitD, here’s the link.

A charmingly innocent (well, sort of) romp, all done to the music of the Tango!

US / 16´ 24´´ / bw / Tango Silent Films
Dir & Pr & Scr: Joe Leonardo
Cine: Mauricio Carvajal
Cast: Matthew Mičetić (Reynold Clifton), Julene Beeson (Natasha Primrose), Jenna Hastreiter (Mabel May), Lilah Wallach (Harem Girl), Jerry Wallach (Genie), Evan Halbert (Natasha’s Genie), Steve Correl, Elango Samy Manin, Julian Prokofiev, Patrick Bledsoe, Carol Hess, Monte Hess, Ted Roe, Christopher Duff, Graham Powrie, Jessica Kimmet

The fifth, last, most ambitious and in my opinion finest of the Tango Silent Films series of short movies made by Joe Leonardo with the participation of various members of the Portland (Oregon) Argentine Tango Community. You can find below details of #1–#4 in the series, plus an ancillary song-short. A recurring backdrop in some of the movies is the Portland center Tango Berretín. The soundtracks to the movies consist of Tango music, plus the whirring of a (supposed) projector. Verisimilitude is enhanced by the use of black-and-white stock, occasional fluctuations in brightness, and of course the performances of the cast.

Pornography has two acts. In the first, set in the Tango Berretín, rich Reynold Clifton (Mičetić) is incensed when trophy spouse/girlfriend Natasha Primrose (Beeson) flirts outrageously to the room. Reynold responds by doing his very best to get into a clinch with alluring barfly Mabel May (Hastreiter). Just before Continue reading

Hotel Imperial (1927)

Pola Negri stars in a high melodrama!

US / 77 minutes / bw / Paramount Dir: Mauritz Stiller Pr: Erich Pommer Scr: Jules Furthmann, Edwin Justus Mayer Story: Hotel Imperial (1917 play) by Lajos Biró Cine: Bert Glennon Cast: Pola Negri, James Hall, George Siegmann, Mickael Vavitch, Max Davidson, Otto Fries, Josef Swickard, Nicholas Soussanin.


The opening title of this intriguing silent movie sets the time and place:

“Somewhere in Galicia, March, 1915—when Austrian fought Russian on Austrian ground.”

This is worth remembering because, according to the Turner Classic Movies online database, the movie is set in Hungary. The same site shows a capsule review by Leonard Maltin, which summarizes the plot thus:

“As WW1 floods over the map of Europe, a squad of Austrian soldiers seeks sanctuary in a small village inn, only to find it occupied by enemy Russians. Chambermaid Negri holds the key to their survival.”

This is less worth remembering because, while it does bear some similarities to the movie’s plot, they’re no more than similarities. Also less worth remembering is that IMDB renames Vavitch’s character—calling him Tabakowitsch rather than Petroff—with the result that TCMDB and Wikipedia call him Tabakowitsch as well. I suspect he may have Continue reading

Anna-Liisa (1922)

Finland / 49 minutes / bw silent / Suomi-Filmi Dir: Teuvo Puro, Jussi Snellman Pr: Erkki Karu Scr: Jussi Snellman Story: Anna Liisa (1895 play) by Minna Canth Cine: Kurt Jäger, A.J. Tenhovaara Cast: Helmi Lindelöf, Emil Autere, Einar Rinne, Mimmi Lähteenoja, Hemmo Kallio, Meri Roini, Greta Waahtera, Axel Ahlberg, Tauno Ensio Järvinen.

A silent melodrama that could be seen, I suppose, as holding some ancestral place in the family tree of Finnish film noir, at least thematically: because of an old and hushed-up crime, the protagonist is cast into an archetypal noir abyss of inescapable guilt . . .

Anna-Liisa - 1 Anna-Liisa is only too willingly seduced by Mikko

Anna-Liisa (Helmi Lindelöf) is only too willingly seduced by Mikko (Einar Rinne).

In a remote part of Finland, Anna-Liisa Kortesuo (Lindelöf) is planning to marry Johannes Kivimaa (Autere), the somewhat milksop employee of her jovial father (Kallio). But Anna-Liisa has a secret. Years ago she dallied with farm laborer Mikko (Rinne). When he went off to seek his fortune, she Continue reading