Author: Ray Olson

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From Golding’s Ovid

I’ve just finished reading what is sometimes called Shakespeare’s Ovid because the playwright borrowed from it extensively. The passage below comes in the twelfth of the poem’s fifteen books.

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The Movies: Getting It Right

On the supposition that lightning strikes twice, the movie industry loves remaking box office bonanzas. There are six Hollywood versions (and one Japanese) of Peter B. Kyne’s short novel, The Three Godfathers (1913). In 1929, when the talkies were taking, if not baby, then toddler, steps, everything clicked. 

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Fred Zinneman

Few other first features involved so many future luminaries as the documentary-style German silent, People on Sunday (1930). Not the actors, but directors Edgar G. Ulmer and Robert Siodmak and writers Billy Wilder and Curt Siodmak, all of whom had long careers in Hollywood.

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The Talkies: One-offs

Four of these movies are genuine anomalies for their makers. The fifth is the best film by a very famous and successful director-writer whose other movies—and I’ve seen nearly all of them—reliably disappoint me. 

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Movies That Began To Talk,

The Jazz Singer (1927) is said to have brought down the curtain on silent movies. Sound shorts were made before The Jazz Singer, but few theaters were set up for them, and it was Al Jolson’s hit feature that first pushed exhibitors hard to install sound.

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The Silents–The Final Installment

Everybody interested in movies has heard of Leni Riefenstahl. She made the famous, though now quite dull, film of the spectacular 1934 Nuremberg Nazi Party rally, Triumph des Willens (1935), and Olympia (1938), a far more durable record of the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

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The Silents: The Classics: Good Start!

The silents were perforce the medium in which most masters of the talkies learned their profession. Indeed, many first showed their mastery in silent features. Four titles on my list of favorite silents attest to their makers’ gifts very early on.