Wednesday April 29, 2020
Silent Movies by Walter Bernstein
“By then I had been going to the movies for some time. The first one I was permitted to see was [the 1928 silent feature] The Noose, starring Richard Barthelmess. I was five or perhaps six. I have little memory of the film except of being frightened by the villain, an actor named Montagu Love. He was the first in a long line of movie villains who I always knew were indestructible. If the hero won, it was a fluke. The game had been fixed. There was no way in how I saw the world that any hero, crippled by sensitivity and honor, could prevail against such confident villainy...
”My grandmother liked going to the movies in the afternoon, when she had finished cleaning her house and preparing dinner, and she didn't care what was playing; all she wanted was an hour or two of undisturbed rest. She would settle down in the dark theater and go to sleep, lulled by the music and the silent figures on the screen. But she returned home one day upset and angry. She was finished with movies. The figures on the screen were keeping her awake. They were talking out loud. She felt betrayed and never went again.“
— Walter Bernstein, in his book ”Inside Out: A Memoir of the Blacklist.” Other movies Bernstein mentions: The Patent Leather Kid, with Richard Barthelmess; Corsair, starring Chester Morris; and Jack Holt and Ralph Graves in Dirigible. I‘ve seen none of these, nor any movie with Graves or Holt—at least, not that I’m aware of. Bernstein has an unabashed love of movies throughout his memoir. There's just no place he'd rather be than a movie house.