The Six Best 10s and 20s Films

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  • 1) Metropolis (1927)
  • 2) The Battleship Potemkin (1925)
  • 3) The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
  • 4) Un Chien Andalou (1928)
  • 5) Intolerance (1916)
  • 6) The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919)

Just when I think I'm making good progress on filling in my cinematic gaps, up pops a list like this where I haven't seen a single entry! Ah well, movies to look forward to...

These films are certainly worth tracking down. I especially encourage you to see Metropolis when it (hopefully) finally gets the DVD release it deserves early next year. If curiousity grabs you, rent a good videotape copy. As I've grumbled before, all existing DVD copies of this terrific film are pure dung.

The Image Potemkin DVD is quite good, and the Criterion Joan of Arc is flat out amazing. Some may find these boring, but Potemkin is quite invigorating to me, and Joan will be a good indicator of whether you need to pursue Dreyer films any further. If it puts you to sleep, nope. If you find it oddly hypnotic, there are mines to dig into.

Un Chien Andalou is one of the greatest experimental films ever made. A Luis Bunuel / Salvador Dali collaboration, the film steadfastly refuses narrative, relying on images void of a story to guide the viewer's emotional response. Not a novel idea, but perhaps one of the few times this ploy pays off gangbusters.

Image had a pretty good Intolerance DVD, but it is now sadly out of print. The film is long and will probably cure insomnia in some viewers. I was hooked by the four stories (each in a completely different time period) weaving in and out of each other. Caligari is short and strange enough to hold anyone's interest, and Image's DVD is a great way to watch this mindbending, dreamy classic.

Anyway, I'm babbling. These are great films (I'll probably lengthen this list later), and I hope some people may give one or two of these a shot some day and discover the unique art of the silent era. Science fiction fans especially should seek out Metropolis. Film would never so fully realize a futuristic world again until Blade Runner.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Well count me into the camp fo folks who watched Joan of Arc and was bored. There is something very compelling about the shooting of that movie but It seems like it goes on for three weeks.

I do think Metropolis is everything LBangs raves about and more. A stunning film.

I have a few suggestions for consideration.

Greed. I would love to see the 10 hour version but I remember the edited version I did see was very, very good.

Murnau's Sunrise. I often think of this as precursor to modern film. A very strong story. ( I was going to say script but I am not sure that is right for a silent movie)

Also any of the comedies of Buster Keaton. Especially Sherlock Jr. or The General.

Though my favorite silent comedy is Harold Lloyd's Safety Last.

I actually watched the last half of John Ford's Iron Horse recently. I was pretty bored considering how much I like John Ford Films.

Good suggestions! When I get a bit more time, I will lengthen this list a little and will include most of the films you mentioned! I may also include the original Phantom of the Opera (1925 with Lon Chaney), a favorite of mine since my teenage years.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Thank you both for the comments on these. Since you both love it so much, I'm eagerly await the new DVD treatment of Metropolis (among others you've listed).

jgandcag, if you thought Joan of Arc was boring than I don't think my "bored-by-the-French-Connection" attention span has a ghost of a chance. :-)

Wow, so many people apparently loved Intolerance. Myself, I thought The Birth of a Nation was a great film (besides its historical importance), but Intolerance was pretty much crap. I think I'm in the minority about it on Listology, anyway.