Argus-Leader from Sioux Falls, South Dakota on December 3, 1999 · Page 51
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Argus-Leader from Sioux Falls, South Dakota · Page 51

Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Issue Date:
Friday, December 3, 1999
Page 51
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Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, S.D. Friday, Dec. 3, 1 999 7 .. Rediscover stars of silent era By ROBERT TAYLOR The Boston Globe The florid acting of the silent-screen era may strike us as a hoot, but we can expect with some assurance that the future will see our own players as equally trapped in inexplicable dumb shows. Every acting style is of its own time, and this insight makes Jea-nine Basinger's "Silent Stars" a continuous and delectable discovery. Film historians of the period usually concentrate on the great silent clowns (Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd), and many critics have explored the performances of Lillian Gish in "Way Down East" or ZaSu Pitts in "Greed"; but Basinger's approach is both highly personal and evaluative: "to celebrate a group of silent film stars who are somehow forgotten, misunderstood or underappreciated. They are all important stars, not minor figures -actors and actresses who made a major impact in their time. I want to watch their movies and consider what was significant about them then and what they seem like now." The 17 stars she has selected range from the Talmadge Sisters, Norma and Constance, to Rin-Tin-Tin, and though one could have done with less Rinty and more Garbo, the writing is beguiling, laced with wit, reanimating a time as distant from us in most ways as antiquity, yet as startlingly close as the seven deadly sins. The problem with the book, of course, is that it speaks about movies that often are not available to present-day audiences; the triumph of the book is that Basinger's gift for analyzing performance is as impressive as the remarkable "If! ,r Vl I'll ' V Pauline Kael's. You come away with a vivid impression of such films as "Nickel-Hopper," in which Mabel Normand scrubs floors all day and gives dance instruction by night ("2V4 Cents a Dance"), wooed by the young Boris Karloff ; Tom Mix's "Dick Turpin," in which the authentic rodeo cowboy plays a 17th-century English highwayman, and Douglas Fairbanks's "The Nut," a predecessor of Chaplin in "Modern Times." The essays devoted to Mary Pickford and Gloria Swanson have a revisionist slant. Mary was no "bargain basement Shirley Temple" but a tough-minded pioneer of the notion of stardom, while Swanson connected her exotic beauty to the ordinary woman in the audience "by translating it into a form of pseudoliberation." Only 4 foot 11, "she may have been short but she acted tall." Similarly, Basinger is at pains to correct the myth of John Gilbert as the "ruined by sound" star. Gilbert was a matinee idol who spoke a pleasant baritone clearly, but whose acting, Screen comic Buster Keaton is shown in character in an undated pho-to. For a few years in the 1920s, Keaton was one of the world's biggest stars. Short and dark-haired with large, sad eyes, he was nicknamed the "Great Stone Face." learned in the silents, depended on physical behavior. He was diminished by the advent of sound whereas matinee idols such as John Barrymore and Ronald Colman, trained in stage techniques, flourished. And the legitimate question about Marion Davies, Basinger points out, was not whether she had talent, for everyone thought her a splendid comedienne, but what her career might have been without W.R. Hearst. True, Hearst did manipulate that career, yet she was perfectly capable of achieving success on her own. The difference between "Silent Stars" and the disappointing "O.K. You Mugs" is that between serious criticism and a fan's notes. Twenty-four writers are represented. By far, the best is John Updike's essay on Doris Day, but this has long since appeared in other compilations. Stuart Klawans on the black shoe-shiner who appeared with Fred Astaire in the movie of "The Bandwagon" is incisive. ;1I df;1I.HHV4i1lWi WiiKmii M ' .snn:fim-i aura Gfcai-ie:- ?e o 7 I f w i n (G) ,.V,rS (R) (11:00-11:45-1:30-2:204:00-5:05) (12:05-3:30)7:05-10:15 digital 6:30-7:45-9:00-10:10 warm. ANYWHERE LM)OFDAYSir) (11:20-1:55-4:30)7:10-9:55 digital ( 11:15-12:30-2:00-3:10-4:45) 6:257:30-9:210:20 g(g)(g(R) ri'lUirCO ( 1 1:40-2:20-5:00) 7:45-10:30 digital rLAiritiO)l(R) THEOMKGA ( 11:25-2:00-4:55) 7:25-10:00 digital CODE (PO-ia vfartPOOT (12:40-3:00-5:15)7:50-10:25 digital Enough " (pg-v3) thc Sixth (11:05-12:45-1:55-3:454:40)6:45-7:40-9:45-10:30 5 c w S ( (pg-h) digital ( 12:00-2:25-4:50) 7:20-9:50 digital T?Y(g, Bachelor i3, (11:10-1:45-4:10)6:40-9:10 dioital (11:30-1:504:15)7:00-9:20 digital i. - '" f 4 l - ' 1 V, ( 1 ' : I Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in "End of Days." Schwarzenegger ready to survey 'Damage' ByZORIANNAKTT and ANITA M. BUSCH The Hollywood Reporter LOS ANGELES - Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose "End of Days" opened over the holiday weekend at $31.5 million, has committed to star in the thriller "Collateral Damage" for director Andrew Davis. Shooting on "Collateral Damage" is slated to begin June 1, after which the actor will segue in fall to either "True Lies 2" with James Cameron at the helm or the Frank DarabontChuck Russell collaboration "Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze." Schwarzenegger is scheduled to next begin work on Phoenix Pictures' "The Sixth Day" on Dec. 8 in Vancouver. "Damage" tells the story of a man who goes after the terrorist who murdered his wife and child in a bombing. The sequel to "True Lies" will mark Cameron's first feature directing effort since "Titanic." Jamie Lee Curtis and Tom Arnold, cast members of the original film, which grossed $146.3 million domestically, are expected to return. The sequel will mark the fourth teaming of Cameron and Schwarzenegger, whose films include "True Lies," "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and "The Terminator." "Savage," based on a character created by pulp writer Lester Dent in 1933, tells the story of a millionaire philanthropist who was raised from the cradle to be the world's ultimate adventurer. The project will reteam Schwarzenegger with Russell, who directed and produced the Schwarzenegger starrer "Eraser." fGreat Holiday Gift 4 mft!jiiIICfeir C&illitiLV "tool i in 11011 'fcjjfsi'& -CMS! You've loved him for a lifetime... Now see him in person! Mickey Rooney in Two For The Show Co-Starring Jan Chamberlin With Special Guests The Diamonds Washington Pavilion Husby Performing Arts Center SIOUX FALLS, SD Friday, Feb. 4, 7:30 pm

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