There was quite a lot that went down in 1924 to make the year a memorable one. From the first presidential radio broadcast from the White House by President Calvin Coolidge to the rolling out of the last Rolls Royce Silver Ghost in London, there were quite a few different events that made the year a historical one for people from different walks of life. But the one thing we are interested in is how the year 1924 would have been different for you if you were to choose a night out at the movies! And do we have an interesting list for you to choose from! From thrillers and comedies to all things love, there were so many movies that were released during the year that bringing you a relatively short list of only 10 movies was indeed a task! But we’ve managed to bring you a great mix so we’re sure you’d be more than happy with it!
Sherlock Holmes Jr.
There’s something about Sherlock Holmes that never fails to capture our imaginations and it sure looks like things were the same even back in 1924! This was the year that Sherlock Holmes Jr. hit the theaters with Buster Keaton directing, co-producing, and starring in the movie that was distributed by Metro-Goldwyn Pictures. In a comedic twist, where a movie theater projectionist, who also plays the role of janitor in the theater, reads a book, How to Be a Detective, and is overwhelmed by it that he dreams of being a real-life detective and the audience is treated to a series of events that takes place in the main protagonists vivid and rather imaginative dream sequence! With Kathryn McGuire playing the role of The Girl, the love interest who the Projectionist aka Sherlock Holmes Jr. is out to impress, and other characters such as Joe Keaton, Erwin Connelly, Ward Crane, and Ford West adding to the plot, if you were indeed out on the streets in 1924 looking for a great movie, Sherlock Holmes Jr. would have made for a great choice indeed.
The Little Robinson Crusoe
Little Jackie Coogan was quite the rage in 1924, with plenty of his movies making it into theaters and regaling audiences. As one of the most popular child actors of the silent films era, Jackie proved to be not just a great supporting character in several movies but was even among the few child actors in cinematic history to lead films from the front! And one of his many movies of the time was Little Robinson Crusoe. As the name suggests, the film is all about the adventures of Robinson Crusoe, only this time, it’s a way smaller Robinson who goes about on his adventures! The film has a young and orphaned boy Mickey Hogan, played by Jackie Coogan, on a ship with his only friend in the world, a cat named Black Friday. In the midst of ensuring the tortures of a rather cruel captain, a storm and a shipwreck change little Mickey’s fortunes when he finds himself on one island where he attains the status of a war god, but a captive one. One adventure leads to another and he soon finds himself on yet another island, this one with a white man and his daughter. So if it was an adventure that would have made your day back in 1924, Little Robinson Crusoe would have indeed been a perfect choice!
Despite the challenge of having to create stories, firstly without sound or dialogs, and secondly, without the magic of color, filmmakers from the early 1900s were always willing to experiment with their genres and created quite a few storylines that prove riveting even today. One such movie that had Eric von Stroheim do what he did best was Greed. The movie was a radical one for several reasons. Firstly, it was among the few of the time that was shot not in the confines of a studio and makeshift sets but on location in the Death Valley. In fact, even the shooting schedules were so grueling that many members of the cast, as well as the crew, complained of ill health. After editing 85 hours of footage, Eric cut down his work to eight hours of what those who saw it recalled as the greatest movie ever made. Unfortunately, studio bosses cut it down to two and a half hours only and left Eric heartbroken. Although the longer version of the movie is forever lost, in the year 1924, even this edited and final version would have made for great viewing on the large screen. So if it was a psychological drama that you would have enjoyed on your night out at the movies in 1924, Greed would have been a numero uno choice!
The ever so beautiful Marion Davies was quite the rage in the 1920s and one movie that truly brought her beauty and acting talents to the fore in 1924 was Yolanda. The film was a landmark event in entertainment history for several reasons. One, a humongous set was built for the movie, and at the time, the set was made popular as the biggest one ever on the East Coast. Two, this was the only movie that starred the beautiful Marion Davies and the dashing Ralph Graves in the lead roles. And three, this was the last movie starring the famous actress directed by Robert G. Vignola. You would have surely been smitten by the film, especially if you were in the city during the time it was released — for several reasons, the movie did very well in cities but failed to take off in smaller locations — and came across a movie theater playing Yolanda.
The Rejected Woman
A drama starring Alma Rubens, Conrad Nagel, and the erstwhile Bela Lugosi, The Rejected Woman would have made for quite the night out at the movies in 1924, especially if you were a lover of dramas. The film weaves a beautiful love story where John Leslie, played by Conrad, finds in the tragedy of a plane crash a new and beautiful acquaintance in the form of Diane Du Prez, played by Alma. As the rich and sophisticated John returns to his abode in New York City, an equally smitten Diane too comes to the city and the two begin their affair. But there’s a world of difference between the two and helping Diane bridge this gap with the help of timely tips and even monetary help is James Dunbar, the business manager of John, a role played by Wyndham Standing. As love turns into lifelong commitment and John and Diane get married, what drives a wedge between them is John’s newfound knowledge of James’ role in the plot that has the two falling in love. All ends well though, so if you were to choose The Rejected Woman for a night out at the movies in 1924, you sure wouldn’t have returned home dejected!
The Thief of Bagdad
In 1924, Baghdad was still known as Bagdad, and despite the mixup in the way the name of the city was spelled, what wasn’t so different was the love audiences and filmmakers alike had for this rather endearing and magical city and all the stories that were immersed in it. So along came The Thief of Bagdad, yet another movie that had a storyline emerging from the dark alleys of a city that has captured the imagination of filmmakers in so many ways. Written and produced by Douglas Fairbanks, with him playing the leading role too, the movie was directed by Raoul Walsh and even today is considered one of the greatest works emerging from the Fairbanks stables. In fact, even Fairbanks seemed to have a particular liking for the film, and his son even reminisced how the filmmaker considered this one his favorite work. A masterpiece that when it finally hit theaters, had to its name a cast that had thousands of characters, the film was surely larger than life in many ways. So if it was a magical night out that you were on the lookout for, The Thief of Bagdad would have been a great choice indeed.
He Who Gets Slapped
Quite an interesting name for a movie isn’t it! And indeed, He Who Gets Slapped is just as interesting as its title, and you would have surely enjoyed this one if you had to walk into a movie theater in 1924! Yet another psychological thriller (it was interesting how many filmmakers of the time were exploring the genre), this one was from the stables of Victor Sjostrom and was based on the Russian play by the same name. Starring Lon Chaney, Norma Shearer, and John Gilbert in the lead roles, the movie turned out to be a milestone for all those involved and not only raked in the big bucks for the studio, but was also the first film from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, or MGM as we also know the studio, to feature the famous lion as the mascot. Receiving several rave reviews ranging from “the finest production” yet to “inventive”, you just couldn’t have gone wrong with He Who Gets Slapped!
Romantic comedies were quite the rage even in the 1920s, and among the lineup of movies that caught the audience’s attention during the year 1924 was Girl Shy. Starring the versatile Harold Lloyd and the enigmatic Jobyna Ralston in the lead roles, the film revolves around Harold’s pursuits of creating a film that developed as a solid story instead of the gag roles he was typically popular for, and boy did the movie succeed in establishing this! All through the film, the focus remains on the evolving relationship between Harold and Jobyna — playing the roles of Harold Meadows and Mary Buckingham in the film — but what truly proves to be the icing on the cake of a wonderful storyline is the penultimate sequence of the film which has loads of fun and frolic that does complete justice to Harold’s unique style of comedic action and thrilling escapades. All’s well that ends well though, and if you were to come out of the theaters after watching Girl Shy in 1924, you’d be happy that eventually, the stuttering poor boy does indeed get the beautiful and rich girl of his dreams, even if he had to carry her out of her wedding at the very last minute!
The White Sin
Romance sure was in the air back in 1924 and yet another film that explored this evergreen avenue was The White Sin. Starring the beautiful Madge Bellamy playing the role of Hattie Lou Harkness and John Bowers playing the role of Grant Van Gore, the film has all the makings of a romantic drama with loads of highs and lows that keep the audiences riveted and enthralled. Bringing to life the struggles of a young girl who is forced to run away from home and is then entrapped by a wealthy playboy only to be left behind as a single mother, the movie has quite the happy ending with two beautiful and troubled souls finding love in each other. Yet another film from the yesteryears that has made its way into the collection of the Library of Congress, The White Sin shows us just how much a young woman of time had to struggle to live a life of dignity even when she wasn’t in the wrong in any way.
The adventures of Peter Pan have always been quite a treat for audiences. Whether they are played on the big screen, in animated versions, or on the stage, the story of the little troublemaker and his friends has always been a crowd puller. And so it was with the Peter Pan movie of 1924! Based on the original play and playing out as close to the sequences that were played out on stage as possible, the film is also a departure from most versions of the storyline as it explores the romantic feelings that Wendy has for Peter and even has Peter going back for her later, only to find that she is now a grown woman with a daughter of her own. With the beautiful Mary Brian playing the role of Wendy and a young Betty Bronson turning on her charms as not a girl but a young Peter Pan, the film was a thumping success. And if you had to buy a ticket to Peter Pan on a night out in 1924, you would have ended up contributing to its huge profits that clocked an impressive 16 times the amount it took to produce the film.
That’s What A Night Out At The Movies In 1924 Would Have in Store For You!
We know the list we have brought you is impressive in every way but something tells us that if you were really a part of the 1920s, you would have surely enjoyed walking into the theaters in 1924 and enjoying any of the movies we have listed above. After all, from romantic dramas and comedies to psychological thrillers and even fantasies, we have managed to line up quite the mix for you! So while you can’t really turn back time and go back to an era that certainly sounds like a magical one, what you can do is catch up on these movies from the silent era that even without sound and color, left you impressed in so many ways!