Archive for August 20, 2021

Shorthand

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2021 by dcairns

Got two preview discs from Masters of Cinema’s first EARLY UNIVERSAL set — possibly a must! William Wyler’s THE SHAKEDOWN (1929) was the only film known to me, and certainly he’s the best-known director of the bunch. I reviewed the movie a decade or so ago when I had a bootleg with attractive Italian intertitles. Now the film, which is excellent, looks MUCH nicer.

But I want to talk a bit about SHIELD OF HONOR (1927), also in the set, the first film I’ve seen directed by Emory Johnson, and a very fine job. I’ll have to see what else I can locate by this guy. The main cast was largely unknown to me but key supporting floozy Thelma Todd is introduced with a rushing track-in and a suggestive intertitle.

Now, I ask you, was it REALLY necessary to split the word “dictation” so the first syllable stands alone?

The movie begins with a gushing tribute to the courage and self-sacrifice of the police force, which I’m afraid I wasn’t ideally conditioned to appreciate as I’ve been listening avidly to Five to Four, “a podcast about how much the Supreme Court sucks,” which includes numerous accounts of truly egregious police misconduct. And, to be honest, this is a fairly routine cop show in essence. But delivered with a lot of panache and groovy 1927 production values including great miniature shots. The hero is a FLYING COP (in an aeroplane), giving the FX department a work-out — I think there are more special effects shots than actual flying ones by a factor of ten to one.

Spielbergian!

Johnson’s last film as director (he had an acting career that continued in small roles until the forties) is on YouTube but I haven’t checked it out yet. The title, THE PHANTOM EXPRESS, is enticing.