We’ve covered the top of their best, here is the worst of the worst. These will be the movies which we pray newcomers will not see, the movies which are just painful to see.
I wish to make certain that these pictures are the outliers, before we get started. The picture quality during the era was high, especially at the studios.
I try not to dwell on the negative when it has to do with the age. After all movies are snickered at and they want. That being said, it might be naive to behave as though each silent movie is a masterpiece. Even the finest and brightest had a couple of misfires. We could draw on a strong contrast between them and the terrific movies which were much, much more prevalent, by acknowledging these dreadful movies. I consider this to be a public support as it will warn people off those pictures. At least audiences will be aware of what they’re searching for if curiosity takes over.
My basic standards is these are the films that I wish had been missing. These are the films that make me this:
(As with my “best” list, I am limiting my choices to movies I’ve already reviewed on the website.)
Each one of these pictures will likely require utilization of mind bleach. I suggest sloth pictures and videos. However, kittens, piglets, alpacas and sleeping puppies do the trick.
Here is a movie of a talking porcupine.
My “badness” doctrine:
In general, I am far more picky about funding or smaller independent movies than I am with studio offerings. The truth is, a few films that are smaller are awful because money was tight. No money for retakes, competent supporting players, costumes, etc.. Yes, the film is horrible but it’s far less annoying than large budget movies that manage to blow it.
Mike Nelson of MST3K fame after wrote he considered The Phantom Menace are the worst movie ever produced. Perhaps Space Mutiny or even Cave Dwellers proved technically not as competent (though far more fun) however Menace had money and also a producer/director with complete creative control. The wasting of funds was its offense. I agree with this doctrine.
I have a dim view of rape-as-plot-device, racism pacing and ridiculous plots. And if someone starts thinking about “context” I shall be made to throw popcorn at their head. (For those that are perplexed, I have been dealing with this issue since the website started. Allow me to give you a bit of background. “Context” is occasionally utilized to give films a free pass for anything– even when contemporary critics, audiences, authors and activists did in fact object to this content. “Context” used in this manner normally means looking at things throughout the perspective of a upper-middle class WASP guy with tacky taste circa 1900-1930, ignoring the voices of anybody out this description. Yes, our perspectives change over time but “context” is often utilized to stifle legitimate worries about content. Thus, no “context” from the comments, please)
Obviously, not everyone will agree with what’s on this listing. If among them is really a favorite of yours I really do apologize but I will not be going at your home to any movie nights.
On to the list! (Recall, I like to be addressed as “madam” in most missives of rebuke.)
5. The Little American (1917)
Cecil B. DeMille and Mary Pickford were never going to function as a creative team. They were control freaks with quite different ideas of what the people wanted. Both were outstanding but their designs were too different. They almost make it operate. (For the record, I adore them both, just not together.)
If these creative issues would be the greatest problems with The Little American, it would not be on this listing. No, the movie illustrates. Portrayals of violence against women! Cartoonish villainy! Unintentionally hilarious jingoism! Did we say that women get hurt? Is not it dreadful? Let us show some more! Again! Get the point? Let us reveal!
In all fairness, DeMille did shed friends on the Lusitania however his bloodthirsty answer was outside the world of good taste, even by his standards that are peculiar. To make matters worse, the propaganda angle fizzles and we are obliged to see Mary Pickford wind up with a soldier that is contrite that did not really attack anyone but maybe not for lack of looking.
Read my review.
4. The Love Flower (1920)
Carol Dempster occasionally gets blamed for manager D.W. Griffith’s artistic reduction, which is quite unfair because he enjoyed tremendous creative hands and she was a starstruck adolescent.
Trainers and full of pep, Carol Dempster was created for action films. If The Love Flower had contained more swimming arenas and much more leaping around rocks, it might have been a success. Rather, Griffith brings everything to a stop with a plot that is dumb, weird and improper close-ups and a some stereotypes as a result, you understand, Griffith. Dempster plays with a woman on the run with her papa. She determines the best technique is to continue the family heritage and kill the officer after the cops close in.
At this point, Dempster goes complete Wile E. Coyote. I’m not kidding. She places traps and drops boulders. I wouldn’t be surprised to observe an Acme catalogue. She falls into the Griffith heroine snare of twirling and spinning and shrieking with joy each time she sees a rabbit. As women do. This is treated as exceptionally serious and dramatic.
If it sounds funny, allow me to assure you it’s so dull and slow that there’s little expectation for amusement.
Read my review.
3. The Wizard of Oz (1925)
This movie could be utilized to teach courses. The Larry Semon that is painfully unfunny stars because the Scarecrow in this film. Oz is turned with a succession struggle into a Ruritanian kingdom. Dorothy is now. Semon and Oliver Hardy (as the Tin Man) are waiting in the wings to her to become legal. Semon attempts to bribe her with lollipops. Oh god.
There’s also a new character. Named Snowball. Who steals watermelons. Along with the actor playing him is charged as G. Howe Black. (I can’t even.)
And great news for every one of you who watched the 1939 model and thought, “It is okay but it needs more projectile vomit, rather than a duck” Yes! The 1925 version has a duck which does that.
Plus we get to relish property of Oz and the boring pacing! Yay!
Read my review.
2. Surrender (1927)
Curse you, Universal! (Shakes fist.) This movie makes me soooooooo angry! Pant, pant, pant. Ok. Calming down.
Carl Laemmle had two obsessions from the mid-twenties. The first was importing Ivan Mosjoukine, the insanely talented Russian performer who was knocking ’em deceased along with his versatile performances. The second was adapting the drama Lea Lyon into the display. It is a tale of rape warfare and honour killings. (Don’t you be getting any thoughts, cable TV screenwriters.)
Laemmle’s 2 fixations converged in 1927 and the result had been Surrender. Mosjoukine is a Cossack who spends the movie trying to blackmail the rabbi’s daughter. By threatening genocide. Such as, genocide that is literal. Yes, he’s our hero. Nonetheless, it’s fine she drops and because it completely works.
What’s even worse compared to the script is exactly what Hollywood did to Ivan Mosjoukine. He gives a performance that was terrible although I would have believed it possible. Just dreadful. Whether it was being paired the gift hole, with Mary Philbin, or whether it was the story that is terrible, I really don’t understand. (I want to make this clear: I’ve never seen him give a bad or even poor performance in almost any of his work from Russia, France or Germany.) To add insult to injury, this is the sole Mosjoukine film on home press from the U.S. for a little while. I mean, among the most talented, charismatic, witty, charming and intelligent actors to grace the screen (yeah, I like him) and THIS is exactly what Universal gives him? A pox on their house!
I felt as if I needed a shower after this one.
You can read my review.
Surrender could have taken the trophy for “worst ever” if it weren’t for…
1. Brute Island (1914)
Is your mind bleach at the ready? Alright, here we go. Brute Island is a gruesome film on each level. It is racist, sexist, classist and just plain sleazy. It is a chore to get through and leaves you feeling.
Harry Carey (writer, director, star) plays a school sap who gets dumped by his woman. So he flees lands and civilization on a small island. He murders and tortures the native folks, transactions alcohol for women and compels the remainder of the people to dip pearls. This is handled to being disappointed in love, as a perfectly sensible reaction. Couldn’t he just, for example, form a band or something?
Worst of all, the movie ends with our hero only determining that being a despot is dull and away he goes back into the “civilized” world, enduring zero consequences for his actions. Charming. I repeat, his behavior is presented as being the fault. Again, magical.
Read my review.