The History of Motion Pictures

By Maurice Bardèche; Robert Brasillach et al. | Go to book overview
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discover an abiding sentiment: they are no longer alone. Olga Baclanova lent to the role of the murderess a passivity and a hidden energy, a sort of parsimony of effort which made the character singularly real; but more than anything else The Docks of New York was notable because of its photography. Seldom have we seen anything more beautiful than the scenes with which the film opens, the glistening bodies of the stokers in the oily steam, the smoky port with its fog, or than the low bar where, as a joke, Bancroft decides to marry his drowned woman and, in the midst of an incredible uproar, sends for the clergyman. As in Underworld, American vitality is added to the beauty of misty outlines and of faces half-hidden in shadow. In The Docks of New York the silent film reached a kind of perfection evermore to be regretted, which gave hope that through this German the American film was about to become humanized. He created two or three stirring and powerful films and provided a dramatic model full of verve and vigor.

In a different realm some remarkable technicians outside the studios had perfected the animated cartoon: Max Fleischer had created Koko, and Pat Sullivan had given us Felix the Cat, whose absurd adventures, which seldom obeyed the laws of reason, transported us to Alice in Wonderland's world. These animals with their quaint bodies created a sort of grotesque poetry, half fable and half nonsense, which had the charm of a child's dream. These films had real value and were to have further uses.


6. The Death of an Art

IT IS impossible to restrain a feeling of melancholy when one comes to the end of reviewing the chief events in silent-film history. Between 1927 and 1930 this form gradually expired, first in America and then in Europe. It is difficult to regard what came to take its place as a sufficient consolation, despite any number of excellent films. Not everything about the silent film was perfect, but at the end of its short life it possessed an enor

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