best film: Sunrise by Murnau. I should mention that I still haven’t been able to track down and see Abel Gance’s Napoleon– a pretty significant omission by all accounts (it is #176 of all-time on the TSPDT consensus list). With that in mind, the best film I’ve seen from 1927 is Murnau’s Sunrise. Lang’s Metropolis would’ve been a fine choice as well and in most years here in the 1920’s or any decade– it would be the best film of the year.
most underrated: Wings. Sure- Wings deserves a better fate than the current TSPDT list where it is absent completely and doesn’t fall in the top 2000. I’d have it somewhere in the top 2000.
most overrated: Not a thing here or 1927—again— I haven’t been able to locate Napoleon.
gem I want to spotlight: Metropolis from Fritz Lang. It is an era and decade dominated by the Germans so far (with a dash of Eisenstein and Keaton- sure). Murnau’s masterpiece is more lyrical, proceeding Renoir and Ophüls. Lang’s work is harsher- rigid—preceding seemingly an entire genre of science fiction dystopias. A true triumph of set-piece art and world-building.
trends and notables: The noteworthy history book event here is the advent of sound with The Jazz Singer in 1927– but that has more to do with the technology than the film. The Jazz Singer is no more than a mere recommend and I’d argue the advancement here is nearly all technological and not really a stylistic advancement at all (like moving the camera or the way Eisenstein showed us a film could be edited the year before). It is Murnau and Lang again- the Germans- that are the story. This is the fourth time this decade a German auteur has made the best film of the year (best two here). There are also now 15 archiveable films in 1927 which is a nice jump from 1926. It would dip again in 1929 but for the most part this is a big part of an upward trend that would reach its peak in the 1950’s and largely stay there until today. It’s also pretty amazing that 1927 gives us the archiveable debut film from the likes of Hitchcock, Borzage, Pabst, Lubistch and von Sternberg. That is quite an incoming class of auteurs. Gary Cooper and Joan Crawford their first brief appearances in the archives in 1927.
best performance male: There are two standouts here. He’s been close before but I’m finally going to recognize the great “man of 1000 faces” Lon Chaney for his work in Browning’s The Unknown. George O’Brien deserves a slot as well for his part in Sunrise.
best performance female: Janet Gaynor is competing against herself here- as she gives the two best performances of the year—one in Sunrise and the other in 7th Heaven.
- 7th Heaven
- The Unknown
- The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg
- The Love of Jeanne Ney
- The Kid Brother
Archives, Directors, and Grades
|College– Keaton, Horne||R|
|It – Badger||R|
|7th Heaven- Borzage||HR|
|The Jazz Singer- Crosland||R|
|The Kid Brother- Wilde||R|
|The King of Kings- DeMille||R|
|The Lodger- Hitchcock||R|
|The Love of Jeanne Ney- Pabst||R|
|The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg- Lubitsch||HR|
|The Unknown- Browning||HR|
|Underworld- von Sternberg||HR|
*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