In the 16th century, Archduke Ivan (Nikolay Cherkasov) crowns himself Tsar of Russia and sets himself the goal to unite Russia under one rule. Not everybody is taken with his plans and Ivan always has to watch his back – also among the people of his court. There his aunt Efrosinia Staritskaya (Serafima Birman) is plotting against him, hoping to put her own son Dmitri in his place. But also his marriage to Anstasia Romanova (Lyudmila Tselikovskaya) costs him support. But Ivan will do anything to achieve his goals, no matter the cost.
Ivan Groznyy is a monumental two-parter and an absolutely affective and effective piece of propaganda. It’s worth seeing – especially on the big screen, when you got a huge orchestra and choir on stage to (under)score it. The film is too big to do anything on a small scale.
Alan (Hans Heinrich von Twardowski) and Francis (Friedrich Feher) visit the fair where they see the show of Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss). Caligari is a hypnotist who shows off a somnambulist, Cesare (Conrad Veidt). After Caligari wakes Cesare from his sleep, Cesare predicts the future. In this case specifically, he predicts Alan’s death. The very next day Alan is dead, and Francis is deeply suspicious of Cesare.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a pretty astonishing film and the combination of this film with Cameron Carpenter and his music really was the perfect storm, making this event a perfectly stylish evening.
Professor Manfeldt (Klaus Pohl) has spent his life researching the moon. He has theorized that it has huge gold reserves that could be harvested for earth should space travel ever be achieved. But academia laughed him out of work and into poverty. Now the only one who still believes in him is Wolf Helius (Willy Fritsch). After a mysterious man (Fritz Rasp) shows up at Manfeldt’s, trying to steal his research and putting pressure on them all, things are set in motion to finally finish a rocket and fly to the moon together with Manfeldt, his best friend, engineer Windegger (Gustav von Wangenheim), scientist Friede Velten (Gerda Maurus) and the mysterious man.
When I saw Frau im Mond for the first time, I was pretty annoyed with the music that came with it. So getting the chance to see it with different music (and that music performed live) was a good thing and made the film better.
Entomologist Leo Charpentier (Anders de Wahl) spends most of his time with his research and very little time with his wife Irene (Tora Teje). Especially since he has his niece Marthe (Karin Molander) who takes care of his every need. Irene actually doesn’t mind that much because she’s very busy flirting with the dashing aviator and baron, Felix (Vilhelm Bryde), though she’s actually drawn more to her husband’s best friend, the sculptor Preben (Lars Hanson).
Erotikon is an amazingly funny film. While the live-music-setting usually calls more attention to the film music, in this case, I found the film so captivating that I barely noticed the music.
A Lone Prospector (Charles Chaplin) makes his way to Klondike, hoping to find gold and with it, his luck. But the conditions there are more than harsh and soon he finds himself lost in the cold. By chance, he stumbles on a hut where he finds Black Larsen (Tom Murray) who tries to get rid of him. Instead, they are joined by a third gold digger, Big Jim MacKay (Mack Swain). In an uneasy truce they have to make it through the storm together somehow. But will their luck be enough to make it through?
The Gold Rush is an amazing film, no doubt about it. It is incredibly funny and touching at the same time, further proving that Chaplin is such an icon for a reason [even if it makes me deeply uncomfortable to say that about a guy who was way too much into teenage girls].
USAmerican Mister West (Porfiri Podobed) is tasked with traveling to Russia to see the land of the Bolsheviks for himself. Trouble is, all West knows about Russia is a magazine article making them out to be the worst kind of savages and Mr West is pretty much scared out of his wits. So he takes his faithful companion Jeddy the Cowboy (Boris Barnet) and starts praying. Once he reaches Russia, West is actually robbed. The thieves find the magazine and decide to create the savage land portrayed there for West, sure that they can squeeze some money out of him that way.
The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks is a funny, albeit silly film. The music by PHACE wasn’t that much my cup of tea, but it works as accompaniment to the film.
Boss Huller (Emil Jannings) is an artist at the circus together with his wife (Maly Delschaft), but after an accident he started to stay away from the trapeze. When young woman Bertha-Marie (Lya De Putti) is brought to the circus because she has debts she can’t pay otherwise, she finds a bed with the family Huller. It doesn’t take long until she and Boss fall in love and Boss uproots his entire life for her. But things are not headed for a happy end.
Varieté is not only an excellent film, combined with the soundtrack by The Tiger Lillies, it makes for an utterly fantastic, riveting evening.
In the mud and grime of the docks, the boy (George K. Arthur), the girl (Georgia Hale) and the child (Bruce Guerin) find each other. Fueled by the hope for a better life they decide to move to the big city to make their luck there. The boy may dream big, but reality isn’t quite so accomodating. Will they be able to find their luck?
The Salvation Hunters is an interesting film that works in some parts, but not in others. Mehldau’s accompanying music was nice, but for me it didn’t always fit the film. Altogether though, it was a very nice evening.
Carmen (Geraldine Farrar / Edna Purviance) works with smugglers. When the city watch gets a new commander in Don José/Darn Hosiery (Wallace Reid/Charles Chaplin), Carmen makes it her mission to seduce him to secure herself and her people a blind eye to their activities. But José/Hosiery falls hard for Carmen, causing unforseeable complications for everybody.
The straight-up Carmen version was fine, though its cinematic language hasn’t aged all that well. The Chaplin version was fantastic though. And for both version, Brock provided excellent music and arrangements.
Alice (Anny Ondra) has been dating Scotland Yard detective Frank (John Longden) for a bit, but she is a little bored by him. That’s why she accepts an invitation by an Artist (Cyril Ritchard). They spend an evening together and Alice agrees to visit his studio in the end. But there things go awry and the Artist tries to rape Alice. She fights him off and kills him. Dazed she runs away, only to be confronted with the deed when Frank takes up the investigation. He quickly connects the murder to Alice, but decides to keep it to himself. Especially when a witness (Donald Calthrop) turns up and tries to blackmail the both of them.
I came rather late to Hitchcock in my cinematic life and I still haven’t seen much, but with each of his film more I see, I appreciate him more as a filmmaker. His films aren’t always perfect, but they are always engaging. That is also true for Blackmail, especially with the musical support by Stephen Horne.