THE BELOVED ROGUE
1927, 99 min, Dir: Alan Crosland

Based on the life of poet François Villon, this silent is set in William Cameron Menzies’ fantastic vision of 15th-century Paris and is packed with adventure and laughs. Star John Barrymore described Villon as a “poet, pickpocket, patriot - loving France earnestly, French women excessively, and French wine exclusively.” With Conrad Veidt as King Louis XI.


POWER
JEW SÜSS
1934, Park Circus, 105 min, UK, Dir: Lothar Mendes

This adaptation of Lion Feuchtwanger’s novel Jew Süss was such a stinging indictment of the anti-Semitism then on the rise in Germany that the Nazis remade it in 1940, turning its hero into a villain to advance their propaganda. Hoping his influence can help Jews in the 18th-century ghetto of Württemberg, Josef “Jew Süss” Oppenheimer (Conrad Veidt, in one of his best performances) serves a duke whose corruption and lechery lead both men to ruin. Cedric Hardwicke costars as Süss’ guilty conscience, Rabbi Gabriel.


THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI
DAS KABINETT DES DOKTOR CALIGARI
1919, Kino International, 75 min, Germany, Dir: Robert Weine

Director Robert Weine’s weird masterpiece is arguably the most striking and historically important work of German Expressionist silent cinema. Conrad Veidt is mesmerizing as Cesare, the pasty-faced somnabulist sent forth by psychotic asylum head Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss) to do his evil bidding, specifically kidnapping beautiful waif Jane (Lil Dagover). Although a story framing device was added to bookend the nightmarish events (slightly blunting the subversive script by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer), the film still retains an astonishing power, in large part due to Veidt’s riveting portrayal, as well as the maze of twisted buildings, streets and rooms dreamed up by production designers Walter Reimann, Walter Röhrig and Hermann Warm.


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