SHORE LEAVE (John S. Robertson, 1925)

Hubert Osborne’s play Shore Leave becomes a sensitive film sparked by a dazzlingly inventive, hilarious lead performance by— Richard Barthelmess. Who knew Barthelmess had a sense of humor?! Indeed, sailor “Bilge” Smith was the star’s favorite among his roles—and no wonder. It provides a whole new perspective on his talent, and in a role that […]

THE BIG ROAD (Sun Yu, 1934)

The opening of Sun Yu’s Leftist silent Da Lu—literally, The Great Way—is superb. A group of construction workers, building a Chinese road, sing as if carefree, led by an almost giddily cheerful boy, (we later learn) Jing Ge. Flashback: long-shot; a couple, twenty years earlier, trudge across an inhospitable, dusty landscape. Cut to close camera, […]