1. Called here Maria, there, Renée, Falconetti gives the greatest performance of the decade—in this, the greatest decade of all for film actresses. The occasion, of course, is Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928). Her unadorned face in varied closeup, Falconetti enrobes us in the silence of Jeanne’s destiny, much as Dreyer enrobes us in the silence of silent film, with which added scores or orchestral accompaniments uncomprehendingly tinker. Falconetti’s Joan helps make Dreyer’s Passion a mystery there is no coming out of.

Below are my nine other favorite performances of the 1920s, which are listed alphabetically by the actor’s last name:

2. Vera Baranovskaya, Mother (Vsevolod Pudovkin, 1926).

3. Armand Bour, La terre (André Antoine, 1921).

4. Charles Chaplin, The Gold Rush (Chaplin, 1925).

5. Greta Garbo, The Joyless Street (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1925).

6. Greta Garbo, Saga of Gösta Berling (Mauritz Stiller, 1924).

7. Lillian Gish, The Wind (Victor Sjöström, 1927).

8. Emil Jannings, The Last Laugh (Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, 1924).

9. Zasu Pitts, Greed (Erich von Stroheim, 1924).

10. Victor Sjöström, The Phantom Carriage (Sjöström, 1920).


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