A THROW OF THE DICE (Franz Osten, 1929)

staged with such smooth, “epic” sweep, Prapancha Pash may appear to be much better than the melodramatic claptap that it is. This silent film, which was shot in Rajasthan, is based on the Sanskrit poem The Mahabharata. At a time when cinema was an adventurous art form, German filmmaker Franz Osten’s “masterpiece” is plot-driven—or is […]


James Hagan’s 1930 play One Sunday Afternoon, which had been filmed with Gary Cooper in the lead in 1933, became a rollicking entertainment in its second screen incarnation, adapted by Julius J. and Philip G. Epstein, directed by Raoul Walsh and retitled The Strawberry Blonde, with James Cagney now playing “Biff” Grimes. (Following Hagan’s death, […]

THE STARFISH (Man Ray, 1928)

Everything is ambiguous in Dadaist-to-Surrealist Man Ray’s— Emmanuel Radnitzky’s—L’étoile de mer, whose very title finds the star of the sky in the “star” of the sea. Accompanied by a poem by Robert Desnos, Ray’s silent masterpiece revolves around a man and a beautiful woman as they walk outdoors or otherwise unite. As its object, she […]