Saturday, February 22, 2014

1928 - The Year in Review

Two incomparable comedies from Buster Keaton. A progenitor of the modern action film from Fritz Lang. A harsh, dreamy delve into big city reality from King Vidor. A lush and personal epic from Erich Von Stroheim. And the one American silent from Swedish director Victor Sjostrom, who promptly disavowed Hollywood and hightailed it back to Stockholm (where he continued to make films and, decades later, agreed to star in Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries). Yet, even amongst all this greatness, nothing could withstand the withering onslaught of emotion that Carl Theodore Dreyer offered, with a film consisting almost entirely of close-ups, while working from the transcripts of Jeanne D'Arc's kangaroo court. With Renee Maria Falconetti delivering not just the most devastating screen performance of this year, but arguably of all time--well, there was just nothing that could come near it (Falconetti, alone, makes you feel as if you are an eyewitness to injustice; she never acted in movies again). The short films, too, were overwhelmed by fineries from other shores; though Laurel and Hardy and Mickey Mouse made their marks, the otherworldly images from Bunuel and Dali are, rightfully, still being dissected today. 

PICTURE: THE PASSION OF JEANNE D'ARC (Carl Th. Dreyer, France), followed by: The Crowd (King Vidor, US), The Wedding March (Erich Von Stroheim, US), Steamboat Bill Jr. (Buster Keaton, US), Spione (Fritz Lang, Germany), The Wind (Victor Sjostrom, US); The Circus (Charles Chaplin, US), October (Sergei Eisenstein, USSR)

ACTOR: James Murray, THE CROWD (2nd: Erich Von Stroheim, The Wedding March, followed by: Lon Chaney, Laugh Clown Laugh; Buster Keaton Steamboat Bill Jr.; Charles Chaplin, The Circus; Emil Jannings The Last Command)

ACTRESS: Renee Maria Falconetti, THE PASSION OF JEANNE D'ARC (2nd: Eleanor Boardman, The Crowd, followed by: Lillian Gish, The Wind; Marion Davies, Show People) 

DIRECTOR: Carl Th. Dreyer, THE PASSION OF JEANNE D'ARC (2nd: King Vidor, The Crowd, followed by: Buster Keaton, Steamboat Bill Jr.; Victor Sjostrom, The Wind; Fritz Lang, Spione; Erich Von Stroheim, The Wedding March; Sergei Eisenstein, October

SHORT FILM: UN CHIEN ANDELOU (Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali, France) (2nd: Steamboat Willie (Ub Iwerks and Walt Disney, US), followed by: Leave ‘Em Laughing (Clyde Bruckman, US); Ko-ko’s Earth Control (Max and Dave Fleischer, US); The Finishing Touch (George Stevens, US); Ghosts Before Breakfast (Hans Richter, Germany))

SCREENPLAY: King Vidor, John V.A. Weaver and Joe Farnham, THE CROWD (2nd: Thea Von Harbou and Fritz Lang, Spione, followed by: Clyde Bruckman, Lew Lipton and Joe Farnham, The Cameraman; Harry Carr and Erich Von Stroheim, The Wedding March; Joseph Delteil and Carl Th. Dreyer, The Passion of Jeanne D'Arc)

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Rudolph Mate, THE PASSION OF JEANNE D'ARC (2nd: Roy H. Klaffki and Ray Rennahan, The Wedding March, followed by: Henry Sharp, The Crowd; John Arnold, The Wind)

ART DIRECTION: SPIONE, The Wedding March, The Crowd,


FILM EDITING: SPIONE, The Passion of Jeanne D'Arc, The Crowd, October, Steamboat Bill Jr.

SPIONE, The Wind, Steamboat Bill Jr. 

MAKEUP: LAUGH CLOWN LAUGH, The Passion of Jeanne D'Arc


Sam Juliano said...

Could this be the greatest year in film history? Well, for my money it may well be. As you attest to here in this celebratory post it is a year of masterpieces. Your own #1 film, THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC is also my poll position choice, though THE CROWD, THE WEDDING MARCH, THE WIND, THE CIRCUS, STEAMBOAT BILL JR., SHOW PEOPLE and OCTOBER make this one of the most monumental years of all. Then, if that isn't enough we have Bunuel's UN CHIEN ANDALOU -one of the greatest short films of all time- in this mix. Incredible.

Falconetti's performance is in my books the greatest in the history of film.

Fabulous round-up here Dean!

Dean Treadway said...

It's definitely in the running for one of the best film years ever, Sam. I'm so glad you agree!