Archive for The Chiseler

The Sunday Intertitle: Bubble and Squeak

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on March 1, 2015 by dcairns

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An experiment from 1920! THE CHAMBER MYSTERY is a very talkative silent film, whose writer-director Abraham S. Schomer (also a playwright, which explains the verbosity) gets around the speechifying in novel ways. Some dialogue is presented by traditional title cards, but, rather inexplicably, much of it comes at us via rapid-cut closeups of talking actors with speech bubbles pasted, cartoon-fashion, into the shot.

This is quite charming and might be reasonably effective if one had a chance to get used to it. Sadly, all I have of the film is an untitled fragment, heavily spliced so that characters seem to judder around the place like flickering phantoms.

The only other times I’ve seen speech bubbles in silent films is in animated films, or else when the filmmaker wishes to represent the communications of a parrot. I guess the idea of a bird talking was so surprising that the director felt an ordinary title card just wouldn’t cut it, and the dialogue and image had to be tied together more pointedly to make it clear. In a way, this is sort of treating the bird’s speech as a sound rather than as language, which I guess Noam Chomsky would agree is appropriate (though parrots, even if they lack grammar, do seem to understand what they’re saying).

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One bonus here is that you can watch the constable’s growing surprise at what the lady is saying, as she’s saying it.

Meanwhile, over at The Chiseler, the first in an occasional series: Schinkenworter, in which I attempt to distill the essence of certain Great Screen Actors into a single made-up word. Click the blue lettering to read the piece that dares to answer the question, “Who is Knucklehoofer?”

Blogney and Racy

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on February 11, 2015 by dcairns

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ALICE BROWN as HORTAMUELS

Over at The Chiseler, a cryptic triptych of blogneys (definition provided) and a set of fun facts I have made up about pre-code personnel. The Chiseler — bringing you the facts other publications haven’t dreamed up yet.

Over at Limerwrecks, we continue to try to find rhymes for Peter Lorre, as in this collaborative effort. And the site welcomes Shadowplayer DBenson to its staple of scribes.

The Sunday in New York Intertitle

Posted in FILM with tags , , on February 1, 2015 by dcairns

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From MANHATTA (1921). But never mind that! There is a whole new set of Blogneys available at The Chiseler. I’m running out of early thirties Warner pictures where they wipe from one face to another, allowing me to frame-grab strange intermediate actors (one part Blondell, one part Cagney makes a Blogney), but the films where they dissolve softly from left to right also produce some interesting, phantasmal effects.

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Robert Jenkins as FARM BUCK.

You can thrill to the whole set here.

 

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