A year that saw the first TIME magazine, the opening of the Yankee Stadium, the first 24 Hours of Le Mans race, and the dedication of the Hollywoodland sign — yes, the famous sign in California was spelled “Hollywoodland” when it first came up, only taking on the shorter version of the Hollywood sign we see today in 1949 after a renovation — 1923 was indeed quite an eventful year. Of course, the movies that were released during the year did complete justice to all the hype surrounding it! From mega projects like The Ten Commandments to the fun yet dangerous stunts that made up Safety Last!, there was quite a lineup throughout the year. And while there were several movies that made an impression on the audiences of the time, in this list of What A Night Out At The Movies In 1923 Would Have in Store For You, we bring to you 10 great titles that would have proven the perfect mix for the movie lover in you, back in 1923!
The Ten Commandments
Cecil B. DeMille is a name we are all familiar with today, thanks to the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Award that finds its way to truly great artists at the Golden Globe Awards each year. Well, we bring to you a time when Cecil was only just making a name for himself and in 1923, took on a gargantuan task of bringing to life the epic film The Ten Commandments. As a religious epic, there have been several retellings of this particular story from the bible in the form of movies, animated films, and stage plays, and while all of them have left their own mark, the ones that were presented to audiences in the form of movies were the ones that made the most impact. When this one was made in 1923, the $1.5 million budget for the movie seemed like quite the risk indeed, but all you had to do was take a look at the mega scenes in the movie to know that it would not just rake in the production costs but more. And that’s exactly how things went down! The movie made a cool $4.2 million and film lovers, religious and non-religious alike, lined up at movie halls to witness the grand spectacle that Cecil B. DeMille had created just for them. And if you were among the thousands of fans to walk into a movie theater to watch The Ten Commandments, you would be a fan of the film too!
Mist in the Valley
A British silent film that was based on the novel by Dorin Craig, Mist in the Valley would have been a perfect choice for you in 1923 if it was a crime film you were after. Directed by Cecil Hepworth and with Alma Taylor, G.H. Mulcaster, and James Carew making up the lead cast, the film has enough twists and turns to keep audiences guessing at every juncture and to know that even the seemingly innocent protagonists of the film have something horrid to hide indeed comes as a shocker. Of course, considering how murder and deceit have been woven into the storyline, without audiences ever finding any hint of wrongdoing, this one’s a masterpiece that was truly beyond its time. Thankfully, despite its many shockers, the movie ends on a good note for the two lovers who have had more than their share of tragedies already, and this was enough to leave audiences with a smile on their faces as they headed out of the theater. And if it was Mist in the Valley that you had bought tickets for back in 1923, we are pretty sure you would have done the same!
At a time when comedy was mostly restricted to slapstick and gag routines that didn’t really add up to a story, Our Hospitality proved to be quite the departure from the usual, bringing to audiences a proper storyline that was interwoven with gag bits that made the whole routine a lot more interesting and fun. Starring none other than the erstwhile Buster Keaton with Joe Roberts and Natalie Talmadge, the movie revolves around two feuding families and how, despite the plans of some of the murderous protagonists of the film to carry out yet another heinous crime, it is eventually young love that wins. Of course, with Buster’s antics providing the comedic twist to all things serious and even dangerous, the film indeed proves to be a treat for those who love a lineup of gag bits with a storyline weaving them all together. The premise of the film, thanks to its interesting storyline, has been used as inspiration in several more adaptations after, making Our Hospitality a truly inspirational film too.
A mention of films from the 1920s would be incomplete without the mention of Charlie Chaplin and his various works, and indeed, along with other greats of the era, Charlie was easily one of the most influential actors of the time to leave an indelible mark on cinema. In fact, so outrageous were Charlie’s stunts and humorous escapades at the time, that even today, the transgressions are considered pivotal moments that expanded the way the entertainment world defined humor. And of his works that brought forth his unique style of comedy was The Pilgrim. Playing the role of a small-time and good-hearted crook, the movie begins with Charlie escaping prison and donning the clothes of a church minister to disguise himself. What follows is a case of mistaken identity that Charlie wholeheartedly embraces to avoid trouble with the law. It all goes down south though when his former cellmate steals from the woman Charlie is boarding with, forcing him to give chase and recover the money. However, thanks to his newfound honesty, he is forgiven and sent to the Mexican side so as to escape conviction under American law. But even there, he finds no peace! Although the lack of a truly happy and permanent ending leaves audiences watching The Pilgrim a tad low, what everyone also knows by the end of the film is that Charlie Chaplin will always come out on top no matter what life throws at him!
The Faithful Heart
Coeur Fidele, a French drama film titled The Faithful Heart in English, is the perfect recipe for a love story that fights against all odds only so two people can find the freedom to love one another. And yet, when they are finally able to do just that, they realize that the tough battles they’ve fought have affected their ability to love too. And although the film doesn’t really linger too long on this sentiment, it is understood that the struggles they’ve endured have indeed left a mark. Led by a cast consisting of Gina Manes, Leon Mathot, Edmond Van Daele, and Marie Epstein, among others, the film explores the love story that unfolds when an orphan girl and a poor dockworker find love, only for their true feelings to be thwarted by the villains of the story. Thankfully, despite the tough times they see, the two lovers are finally brought together by fate, and of course, the timely intervention of a crippled woman who turns out to be their savior in more ways than one. Heartbreaking yet hopeful, The Faithful Heart would have been the perfect film in 1923 to help you believe in the power of love once again!
A melodramatic psychological drama that makes you think and rethink life at every juncture in the movie, La Roue or The Wheel begins with a kind-hearted railroad engineer adopting an orphan girl he finds abandoned on the tracks. Taking her in and giving her a new life under his care proves to be tragic for him, however, when his son loses his life in trying to fight another man who is also in love with the girl. The old man squarely blames the girl for the tragedy that has befallen him and breaks all ties with her. The girl, on the other hand, has other misfortunes in store, when the man she marries dies within the year, leaving her widowed and all alone in the world again. What follows is a truly melancholic life for both the old man and the girl, where despite the rejections, the girl secretly helps her now blind benefactor until he dies. Starring Severin-Mars and Ivy Close, the movie is filled with emotions and heartbreak, and although The Wheel does make for a rather somber evening at the movie, it sure makes for a realistic and thoughtful one too.
A comedy from the silent era that has Harold Lloyd play yet another brilliant role, Why Worry? is the kind of film that will indeed teach you that while you think that worrying may be costing you nothing, it may actually be costing you every minute of your life! In this one, Harold plays the role of a hypochondriac, who despite having a good life, just doesn’t seem to be happy, what with his constant worrying over his health. In a bid to get over his “health issues”, which of course, do not even exist, Harold takes off with his valet and personal nurse to a tropical island in the hope of laying to rest his worries. What transpires, however, is just the opposite. A far cry from the protected life he has led so far, he finds himself bang in the middle of a revolution, and as one event after another unfolds, finds himself tackling the challenges thrown at him headlong, all in the hope of finding some peace and quiet that would do his health some good! Finally, with his new friend in tow — one he made while in prison nonetheless — Harold returns home a new man, leaving behind his worries on the island that taught him every lesson he needed to change for the better. So if you had experienced a particularly horrid day and needed to take a break from all that worrying, Why Worry? would have indeed been a perfect film to teach you a thing or two about life, all while you enjoy your night out at the movies!
Adam and Eva
Adam and Eva may sound like yet another biblical drama with epic scenes but this one directed by Robert G. Vignola is really quite the opposite. An out-and-out comedy starring Marion Davies, T. Roy Barnes, Tom Lewis, William Norris, Percy Ames, Leon Gordon, and Luella Gear, among others, the film revolves around the struggles of a young girl as she learns to leave behind her lavish lifestyle and don the role of a farmgirl, and nevertheless, makes it a profitable one. The movie begins with a carefree and wasteful Eva, played by Marion, enjoying her life to the hilt, thanks to the millions her father has. Things take a turn when her father has to go to South America on business and the person he leaves his business to, Adam Smith, played by T. Roy Barnes, decided to teach the spoilt family a lesson by declaring that they’ve gone bankrupt. But the heroine of the movie, who until now has only known the wealthy lifestyle, takes it upon herself to not only adopt the tough life that has come her way but also puts the rest of the family to work. Turning her fortunes around, she even manages to set up a profitable business venture at the farm that was her father’s. At the end of it all though, everyone learns that this was simply a trick played by to teach the spoilt brats of Adam and Eva a lesson.
Comin’ Thro’ the Rye
Based on the 1875 novel by Helen Mathers that goes by the same name, Comin’ Thro’ the Rye stars a beautiful Alma Taylor and a dashing Ralph Forbes in a silent drama that will leave you teary-eyed and heartbroken but happy that you managed to catch up with a film that is simple and easygoing yet heartfelt and true. And if it were indeed 1923, and if you had to watch this movie on your night out, you wouldn’t be left disappointed in any way. Woven around the love a man and a woman have for each other, and how it all comes apart when a cunning woman, who clearly doesn’t understand what love is all about, plays havoc with their lives all in a bid to keep them apart. But while one awaits for love to triumph and jealousy and hate to lose the fight, the win simply doesn’t come and in fact, leaves us heartbroken when the hero writes a final letter to his love from a battlefield that will take his life, promising her that they will surely meet again when coming through the rye. Well, not all love stories end on a high note but Comin’ Thro’ the Rye sure leaves you hoping that this one had!
There is no doubt that Harold Lloyd owes all his popularity to the extreme risks he took in his movies — even losing his thumb and forefinger early in his career — but if you check film records, you will find that Safety Last! was the movie that pretty much cemented his career as an actor of repute. A romantic comedy that gave the world one of the most iconic scenes of the silent era — Harold hanging on to the hands of the large clock of a skyscraper as one can see moving traffic below — the film was directed by Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor. A runaway hit that gave Harold the status of a leading man who could indeed lure in audiences simply with his presence, the movie raked in a whopping $1.5 million at the box office, a pretty good collection when you consider that it only took $121,000 to make it. With clever humor taking over the audience from the very first scene, the movie has a hopeful Harold Lloyd coming to the city to make enough money to marry his girlfriend and have a good life together. Of course, things do not turn out to be as easy as he thought, so when he’s at his wit’s end and struggling to keep up the facade of being successful in front of his girlfriend who has now landed in the city to partake of his “successful” life, Harold, in desperation cooks up an opportunity that would land him and his friend Bill a substantial $500. What follows is the ultimate showdown — a perfect end to all the stunts carried out throughout the movie — with Harold climbing one floor of a skyscraper after another, hoping that Bill would soon take his place in the dangerous climb! Fighting pigeons and of course, the famous clock, Harold finally makes it to the top, winning the money and of course, the girl! If it was laughs and a warm, romantic feeling that you wished for on your night out at the movies, Safety Last! would be the perfect first choice!
Special Mention: Vanity Fair
The reason we mention Vanity Fair here is that although we may have lost this highly successful and path-breaking movie over time, and if it were indeed the year 1923, there was no way you could have planned a night out at the movies without walking into a movie theater to watch this amazing movie directed, written, and produced by Hugo Ballin. Unfortunately, as is the tragedy with several old movies, the prints for this one are lost forever and all we have are the many pieces of news and text that have been dedicated to it for its brilliance. And although there have been several versions of the Vanity Fair storyline over the years, from the black and white era to the cinema and television series, this one is often recognized as the project that started it all. So, yes, although we may never be able to catch a glimpse of the Vanity Fair of 1923, if it were indeed 1923, there was no way you would have missed this one!
That’s What A Night Out At The Movies In 1923 Would Have in Store For You!
The yesteryears always seem like a wonderful time, and so it does indeed seem when we look back at the 1920s! From the beauty of black and white movies to the enigma of silent films that had you only paying attention to the visuals and feeling the emotions without the distraction of sounds and chatter, these experiences were truly different from the movie experiences of today. And as much as we wish we could go on, we do have to call it a day as far as the year 1923 is concerned, and hope that you enjoyed this list of movies in What A Night Out At The Movies In 1923 Would Have in Store For You. Oh, and if you do indeed manage to turn back time, remember to bring us all a few prints of Vanity Fair from 1923. We would all be forever grateful to you for it!