best film: The Passion of Joan of Arc is easily my #1 film from 1928. It’s a giant masterpiece from Danish auteur Carl Theodor Dreyer. It has elements of montage like Eisenstein but highlights the close-up and empathetic shots closer to a murnau and Griffith.
most overrated: the crowd at #221 on TSPDT is just a little too high for my tastes. I think it’s great but I’m probably closer to #400 of all-time.
most underrated: #715 the circus from Chaplin is the one film TSPDT and the consensus critics completely underrate. It’s not as good as his big 3 films (city lights, modern times, and gold rush) but it’s right there closely behind those films and has a devastating ending.
gem I want to spotlight: the wind from Sjöström features Lillian Gish’s best performance, is a great drama, and is extremely accessible for the fan of contemporary cinema looking to tap into the silent era. The way Sjöström shot on location and used the sand and wind as characters in the film is quite astonishing- a great achievement.
trends and notables: Despite the advent of sound by warners in 1927 with the jazz singer these are almost all silent films. Like 1927 the years are starting to get more and more depth so we have really superb films (the cameraman, wedding march, spies, docks) from top line filmmakers from the era (Keaton, von Stroheim, von Sternberg, lang) rounding out a top 10. As sort of a side oddity- three of the fourteen films in the archives for 1928 are directed by a “von”.
best performance: I want to say a tie because Lillian Gish is wonderful in the wind. But, I definitely have to give the best performance of the year to Maria (I thought her name used to be Rene but in IMDB it’s Maria) Falconetti in the passion of joan of arc. It’s a devastating performance, her only performance, and one of the best 10 performance in cinema history.
- The Passion of Joan of Arc
- The Crowd
- The Wind
- The Circus
- Steamboat Bill Jr
- The Cameraman
- The Wedding March
- Street Angel
- Docks of New York
Archives, Directors, and Grades
|A Woman of Affairs- C.Brown|
|Docks of New York- von Sternberg|
|Show People- Vidor||R|
|Steamboat Bill Jr- Keaton||HR/MS|
|Street Angel- Borzage||HR|
|The Cameraman- Keaton|
|The Circus- Chaplin||HR/MS|
|The Crowd- Vidor||MS|
|The Last Command- von Sternberg|
|The Passion of Joan of Arc- Dreyer||MP|
|The Wedding March- von Stroheim||HR|
|The Wind- Gish||MS/HR|
|West of Zanzibar- Browning||R|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives