The Sheik (1921) / The Son of the Sheik (1926)

Directors: George Melford, George Fitzmaurice By Roderick Heath This essay is offered as part of the Allan Fish Online Film Festival, a festival founded by Jamie Uhler and hosted by Wonders in the Dark, held to honor the memory of the late cineaste extraordinaire Allan Fish. Rudolph Valentino. Over ninety years since he died aged …

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Waxworks (Das Wachsfigurenkabinett, 1924) / The Man Who Laughs (1928)

Director: Paul Leni By Roderick Heath Paul Leni’s name might not be as instantly recognisable to movie lovers as his fellows in the legendary days of German "Expressionist" cinema, Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau. Nonetheless, Leni stands with them as one of the major creative figures of that style, of the budding horror film genre, …

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Metropolis (1926)

Director: Fritz Lang By Roderick Heath The title resolves amidst intersecting geometries that coalesce and create a cityscape, ranged with neo-Babylonian techno-ziggurats: Metropolis, instantly a statement worthy of Ozymandias. A super-city where trains and cars shuttle along spanning bridges and aircraft buzz between sky-nudging structures. A great machine that explodes and morphs into a dark …

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Foolish Wives (1922)

Director/Screenwriter: Erich von Stroheim By Roderick Heath Amongst the giants of silent cinema, Erich von Stroheim looms very large. Not so much for his work, vital as it is, but for his legend, his persona. Von Stroheim all but created the iconography of the larger-than-life, dictatorial, obsessively visionary filmmaker that has echoed in many dimensions …

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Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler (Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler, 1922)

Director/Coscreenwriter: Fritz Lang By Roderick Heath The shadow of Fritz Lang’s early work still falls heavily not just upon many filmmakers, but also upon a swathe of modern pop culture. The remarkable run of movies he made before he was driven to leave Germany by the Nazi ascension helped define, if not originate, a handful …

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The Phantom Carriage (Körkarlen, 1921)

Director/Screenwriter/Actor: Victor Sjöstrom By Roderick Heath The Phantom Carriage has a power which almost defies description, a sense of an overwhelming darkness crowding the edges of the frame and corroding the very flesh and spirit of the characters on screen. It’s a tale of damnation, for whatever remains after death but also on earth too, …

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