Applause (1929)

Applause Movie Review………………………………………………………………………

Applause Movie Review

Applause is a 1929 musical talkie film directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Helen Morgan and Joan Peers. It is such an interesting, really well crafted movie.

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I’m not goin’ to get married unless I’m gonna be the boss

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The plot itself is a pretty standard fare and quite familiar. You have a woman who is a burlesque star, but had sent her daughter to live in the convent many years ago. Now, the girl comes to the city and you get the conflict in that she doesn’t want to work with her mother and wants to go live with her newly acquainted boyfriend. Yes, that all seems to melodramatic and too typical. However, I still really liked the plot in Applause because it is very well told and at times so moving and dramatic. It is also really heartbreaking in the end, but more on that later.

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Applause Movie Review………………………………………………………………………

The characters are mostly archetypes here, but those archetypes usually work when done right and this is no exception. The character development is truly good here with Kitty Darling being such a likable, tragic figure for whom you really feel sorry. Her devotion and care for her daughter is evident and so heartwarming. As for April, she annoyed me in some scenes, but she is mostly a realistic and likable character as well. The same goes for Tony who is a typical, impossibly perfect male love interest, but he is so good-natured and so sweet that you can’t help but love him. The relationship between the two is absolutely fantastic and the movie is so romantic. As for Hitch, I have to say that he is my least favorite character in this picture. He is just such a typical mean character who never has anything that distinguishes him from others of his type.

Applause is a very weird movie, mostly due to its ending. It ends on such a tragic note that seemed too harsh to me. Yes, this is a melodrama, but that incredibly brutal conclusion still seemed too unhappy. But I still give kudos to the filmmakers for being brave enough to end it on such a brutal note and the ending is overall really well executed and it wraps up the film wonderfully.

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Applause Movie Review………………………………………………………………………

The film is the finest when being a romance because its romantic scenes are just so lovable and just beautiful to behold. I loved how they were shot, but also acted and the lines of the dialogue, though typical, are moving and they brought a smile to my face. I absolutely loved those sequences and I enjoyed them the most here.

Yes, Applause is such a weird mix of romance, melodrama and musical. And it does succeed as it uses all of those elements in a great fashion and to its fullest advantage. The songs here are okay, but nothing spectacular and the film should have had more dance and musical scenes in it. But those that were present are good and well utilized. The melodramatic elements are also pretty good and despite being too brutal at times, the film manages to be not only dramatic, but also really emotional at times. And as I said before, its romantic elements are the finest as the film is so charming in tone.

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Applause Movie Review………………………………………………………………………

Applause succeeds as an early sound film for various reasons. It is one of the rare early talkies that is actually well executed and not amateurish in its realization. The directing from Rouben Mamoulian is really fantastic and the acting is also pretty good with Helen Morgan being particularly good in her role. The cinematography and its camera movements are in my opinion still not as good as they would become later on, but for the time being, they are excellent and the movie is truly groundbreaking because of that. There were many scenes here where the camera moves freely and it gives us some really intriguing shots that I really admired its ambition. And the sound quality is phenomenal and so revolutionary.  The film is also original in its execution, if familiar in its substance. It is also really well paced and always involving to watch, but the running time is arguably too short and the first third drags a bit. But it is such a memorable film that I will remember with fondness for sure, it has a big heart and it has many great sequences with the romantic ones being the highlights.

Applause is familiar in its plot and characters and its ending is admittedly ridiculously harsh, but this is still such a good early sound film with some excellent, really groundbreaking camera movements and sound quality at display here and it is an excellent mix of musical, melodrama and romance with many dramatic and heartbreaking scenes, but also having many truly wonderful, romantic sequences that are so charming. It is a weird, but memorable early talkie.

My Rating – 4

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Blackmail (1929)

Blackmail Movie Review

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Blackmail Movie Review

Blackmail is a 1929 thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Anny Ondra , John Longden and Cyril Ritchard. It is a solid, but very troublesome movie.

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Detectives in glass houses shouldn’t wave clues

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It follows a London woman who is blackmailed after killing a man who tries to rape her. The plot itself is quite good for the most part, but at times very problematic as well. The entire first half is really good. The murder should have happened a bit before, but the build up was well realized and it was a very well crafted half. But the second one was disappointing. I really liked the introduction of Tracy and that blackmailing part was really intense and interesting, but the third act is so ridiculous. It just ended in such a rushed and very unsatisfying manner with Alice not confessing the crime in the end. Very disappointing.

The characters are also problematic. I liked Tracy quite a bit as he was such a great presence and his mannerisms were fun. Frank is also quite good. But Alice is not as she is such an idiotic woman. She murdered in self defense and instead of confessing that to the police, she chose to hide. Also, she still ended up not confessing it at the end. And her role in the scenes with Tracy is so passive as Frank is literally the only one who handled the situation. She is such a stupid, ridiculous woman.

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Blackmail Movie Review

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Blackmail succeeds as a thriller because it does have its intense moments. I absolutely loved the murder itself as it was well realized and those later action sequences were also quite thrilling and visually pleasing. Hitchcock directed this movie wonderfully and this is another strong proof of how great a director he is when even his first films had that masterful style to them.

Blackmail was filmed in a transitioning period for film and therefore it has two versions – silent and sound. I watched the sound one and I have to say that I wasn’t a big fan of it. The sound is quite poor and the choice to film only some scenes in sound did not pay off for me, apart from that silent beginning which is awesome and which features such a fan cameo from the director. But the biggest offender here is Anny Ondra. She was deemed unsuitable for the role because of her thick accent so all of her dialogue was dubbed by another actress leading to such an awkward performance that bothered me a lot. But at least Cyril Ritchard and John Longden gave respectable performances themselves.

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Blackmail Movie Review………………………………………………………………………………….

Blackmail is visually such a strong movie. I loved some of the choices in its camera movements and I found its cinematography to be really good. The film looks splendid as is always the case for Hitchcock films. The tone is also good, pleasantly serious and mildly intense. And despite some of those really unfortunate choices in its second half, the script is still solid and it led to some very intriguing moments. The highlights for me were the entire attempted rape/murder sequence and all of the scenes with Tracy as he is such a memorable, really charismatic presence. The film is very well paced and lasts for just the right amount of running time. It is very entertaining to watch and its score is quite solid and accompanies its atmosphere wonderfully. Overall, Blackmail is a very flawed movie which is unfortunate as it could have been great, but it is still a solid and respectable early Hitchcock movie. And even though ‘The Lodger‘ is a much better movie, this one is still worth a watch.

Blackmail is a solid, but incredibly flawed movie. The cinematography is splendid as is its score, the movie looks really good and is quite atmospheric, its first half is really well crafted and some scenes are so memorable, but the second half is disappointing with a very problematic ending, the dubbing of Anny Ondra’s voice led to an awkward performance and her character is a very idiotic one. It is an entertaining and solid film, but unfortunately plagued by those annoying problems.

My Rating – 3.5

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