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  • The Fairy of Spring

    The Fairy of Spring

    A splendid February watch – a long-suffering family plagued by black-and-white snowfall receive a visit from a hand-painted flowery fairy who zaps colourful markers of spring into the scenery so to castaway their wintry doldrums. Not as good as being visited by the real fée printemps, but surely the next best thing.

    The print of this online is typically said to be the original film of this title and tale, a 1902 directed by Ferdinand Zecca. But the print online…

  • Chess Fever

    Chess Fever

    In 1924, Soviet official Nikolai Krylenko, having just prosecuted the officialdom of Russia's Catholic Church, turned his attention to promoting chess, as a means of instilling logical (and hence, for Krylenko, irreligious) thinking amongst the people. Soon umpteen government-sponsored chess clubs had sprung up all across the Soviet Union, and, in short order, the USSR was the most remarkable progenitor of great chess players that the world has ever seen. This 1925 comedy, directed by Vsevolod Pudovkin and Nikolai Shpikovsky,…

Popular reviews

  • Something Good - Negro Kiss

    Something Good - Negro Kiss

    A 2018 addition to the National Film Registry, the earliest known moving picture depicting African-American sexual intimacy, in which a Black man and Black woman joyously kiss. Any Victorian-era film will be notable if it represents Blackness without racist caricature, but this 1898 document is far greater than just something not-bad. Although the Selig company catalogue describes this as a "burlesque" on 1896's popular The Kiss, any potential comic intentions on the part of the white camera-cranker are gloriously disallowed by the sincere affection of the performers. It is beautiful, so beautiful, and their love is contagious.

    [cf. Lencho]

  • What Happened on Twenty-Third Street, New York City

    What Happened on Twenty-Third Street, New York City

    A woman's skirt shoots up when she walks under the gushing air of a sidewalk grate, fifty-four years before Marilyn's iconic performance in The Seven Year Itch. Only today have I learned the historical significance of this film's title. Why does it happen on Twenty-Third Street? The answer can be found by pairing this film with the 1903 actuality At the Foot of the Flatiron, in which pedestrians clutch their hats and skirts on a windy day on the corner…