Archive for Maurice Elvey

“It was about something.”

Posted in FILM, MUSIC, Theatre with tags , , , , , on March 28, 2019 by dcairns

This fortnight’s Forgotten (returning to its usual Thursday slot) comes direct from the Bo’ness Hippodrome and is a spicy bit of northern realism enlivened by a sharp sense of dramatic construction, progressive attitudes and some striking cinematic moments. 

I COULD be talking about Dreyer’s THE PARSON’S WIDOW, I suppose, but I’m not ~


(Thanks to Nicky Smith, Pamela Hutchinson, Mark Fuller, Stephen C. Horne, Sarah-Jane Crawford and Bryony Dixon for sharing their thoughts on this one and bigging it up), to Ali Strauss and Hippfest for showing it, and to the other Stephen Horne for the fantastic music,)

The Palm Sunday Intertitle: Baker St Irregular

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on April 17, 2011 by dcairns

“It’s really quite simple, Watson. You see, I’m an opium fiend, and I find opium dens the best place to procure my fix of the stuff.”

“You astound me, Homes!”


Not really, of course. This is from THE MAN WITH THE TWISTED LIP, produced (and presumably directed) by Maurice Elvey in 1921, in which Eille Norwood plays Holmes — I enjoyed the way he sits.

Maybe Holmes wasn’t ideally suited to silent cinema — I even find the Barrymore version a little dull. The Great Detective’s cogitations require an excess of title cards to be elucidated, or maybe it’s just that the filmmakers concerned didn’t figure out enough strategies to make his thought processes visible. At any rate, there’s no excuse for the way this one begins, with a flurry of title cards stacked end to end, minus any actual intervening scenes. I’d have guessed that parts of the film had been lost and the titles reconstructed from censor’s records (about the only use film censors have ever served), only the titles look as old as the surrounding footage, when some eventually appears. Until further research confirms or disproves my suspicions, I’m looking at this as further proof of the British cinema’s traditional over-dependence on verbiage at the expense of visuals. Very honorable exceptions are of course made for Hitchcock, Asquith, and a few others…


Posted in FILM with tags , , on April 14, 2011 by dcairns

From HIGH TREASON, Britain’s 1929 answer to METROPOLIS, a drama of impending warfare in the distant year 1950, a time of two-way television, channel tunnels and beach volleyball. Over at the Daily Notebook, in this week’s edition of The Forgotten, you can read all about it and ponder the weird mindset of it’s writer-producer, Noel Pemberton Billing.

Grabbing some of the big city imagery of Lang’s film, but not taking it quite so far, the more muted Brits eschew the class warfare theme (unsurprisingly) of the earlier meisterwerk, concentrating on a less-than-simmering conflict between hawkish military types and religious peaceniks — the promising subplot about international agitators seeking to provoke a war between Britain and America is swiftly abandoned, alas.

Incidentally, where is Scene 1 taking place? It appears to be at a sort of Checkpoint Charlie in between Europe (ruled from London, rightly enough) and the US. And it’s on dry land…