Three Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg is the Pick of the Week

Von Sternberg's classic silent trilogy rounds out a slow week of new releases.
  |   Comments

Although he was well known for his legendary collaborations with the great Marlene Dietrich, famous Vienna born, New York-raised director Josef von Sternberg had already established himself with dark, grim visions of ordinary people caught up in dangerous, and highly emotional circumstances that still influence filmmakers to this very day.

In Underworld (1927), George Bancroft plays criminal Bull Weed, whose attraction to his mistress gets him into some really nasty situations with his rival, and eventually the police. To further his descent into madness, the mistress falls hard for an alcoholic ex-lawyer.

In The Last Command (1928), Emil Jannings won the first ever Best Actor Academy Award for his towering performance as a Russian exile who lands a job as a Hollywood extra who plays a role as his former self, which brings him deeper into his tragic undoing.

In the final film, The Docks of New York (1928), George Bancroft (in another terrific performance) plays Bill Stoker, a rascal furnance worker who on a brief shore leave, falls in love with a profound and profoundly exhaused dance-hall girl, which shows Stoker a side of life that he's been missing for years.

The supplements, which have been ported from the original DVD to this new Blu-ray release contain nothing new, but they do have some insight to von Sternberg's genius as a filmmaker of complex humanity. They include two video essays, and a 1968 Swedish interview with von Sternberg. The booklet with essays by critic Geoffrey O'Brien, scholar Anton Kaes, and writer and critic Luc Sante; notes on the scores by the composers; screenwriter Ben Hecht's original script for Underworld; and an excerpt from von Sternberg's autobiography of Emil Jannings, is also included. This should be yet another worthwhile addition to anyone's collection.

Other releases:

Toy Story 4: Woody and the gang are back in this acclaimed new entry in the now-iconic franchise, where this time they show a new toy named "Forky" how the world really is for all kinds of toys.

Midsommar: Ari Aster's newest shocker about a young woman (Florence Pugh) who skeptically joins her boyfriend (who really wants to break up with her) on a summer trip to Sweden where things go really south.

Toys Are Not For Children: An emotionally stunted young woman has an unsettling fixation on her absent children, but also has an obsession with the toys he gave her as a little girl. She gets a job at a toy store, and marries her co-worker. When that goes terrible, she heads to New York City and becomes a prostitute who plays 'daddy' with the creepy old men she services.

Baby Blood: Early french extremity about a woman who becomes a killer to satisfy the bloodlust of the baby inside of her after being attacked by a very strange creature.

Follow Us