Viewed last night, January 24 2009: Way Out West, directed by James W. Horne, starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.
A very funny old Laurel and Hardy film, this was not the first time I’ve seen it and I doubt it’ll be the last. Laurel and Hardy are couriers on a mission to a small western town to deliver a mining deed bequeathed by a man to his daughter Mary Roberts who, inexplicably (but who cares), is in thrall to saloon owner Mickey Finn (wonderfully played by James Finlayson). Finn hatches a plan to steal the deed by having his wife impersonate Mary. Much hilarity follows.
Highlights are a soft-shoe song-and-dance number by Laurel and Hardy (which never fails to crack me up) against a western-sounding tune featuring yodelling by Chill Wills, and attempts – involving a donkey – to gain access to the second story of Finn’s saloon residence.
Viewed January 19, 2009: Manhatta directed and photographed by Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand.
Seen on TCM (the source of many a great old movie viewing), this is a short film of about 10 minutes. Well-known still photographers of the day Strand and Sheeler (also a painter) created this sequence of scenes around Manhattan, meant to depict a day in order. Most scenes are sort of a still life in motion, fixed on a subject while things happen around it. In one you look through columns in the foreground with small and distant people moving in the background, in another you see massive ships nearly motionless with whisps of steam and smoke moving gracefully above. The film is interesting not only for its artistic presentation but simply for a look back in time. Title cards contain parts of Walt Whitman’s poem “Mannahatta” – appropriate as Whitman was known, e.g. in Leaves of Grass, to sometimes speak as if he were addressing readers in future times.
Nice short film. I watched it twice.